Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time there was a very ordinary man who for the first time in his life did something courageous. He dared to confront every dark accusation he could make of himself. He chased the spectre of his instinctive mind through a hell of self-realization. He dared to perceive then, that he knew nothing for sure. He dared to begin learning all over again with a most tenacious questing for truth. And this journey over several years time, changed him entirely. He allowed new perceptions to be built slowly and solidly from sound foundations. And having shed the capacity to take anything for granted, he absorbed the profundity of the miracles in his life and in the lives of all those around him. He learned to see through all the illusions of human mind and society and to understand their nature. He found himself less and less affected by all the societal ills that plagued seemingly each and every human every day, and he began to see how these ills had all been products of those illusions to begin with. He was overwhelmed with pity for these monumental realms of needless suffering still going on all around him. And as he absorbed awareness of the multitude of connection he was a part of, he became overwhelmed by love.

But he also felt very alone in his circumstance. He knew that the story of his experiences would not be believed, just as he learned the great harm in the practice of belief itself. But he had little now to achieve for his own benefit. He'd become largely, though not perfectly, free of ills; free of slavery to society's ruling forces and slavery to instinctive mind; free of illusions. He was joyful. There was nothing now to do but try to help free others. He struggled to find useful ways to reach out to others; to identify individuals who seemed to be moving in parallel directions to the course he had taken, and to offer them the right advice at the right time to help them along; to nudge their own courses on to useful paths.

But this was slow uncertain work and he found himself unsatisfied. Without a means to leverage his knowledge, he knew he would only accomplish so much usefulness during the remainder of his life. Many old friends and family wanted his time and they saw him as still the same man he used to be before his journey began but he understood that. He expected it and did not fight it. But he began to mourn the time he spent with them to some degree. Though he loved them, his time with them was time not being useful enough. It was time wasted in a large sense. And more wasted time would mean less useful knowledge passed on to others by the time he would depart from the world.

While his newer friends and associates saw him as the more enlightened man he had become, and dealt with him more on that level, this time spent with old loved ones seemed wasted because they had little or no perspectives to share with regard to the things that now interested him, while he had no more interest at all in most "normal" things. Normal things were all buried in layers of illusion. They left him mired in conversations that depended on illusion while he meanwhile knew that there was no simple, linear, succinct way to demonstrate the falseness of the particular illusion at hand, so he would just nod and play along, not wishing to upset them.

One particular normal fascination began to wear on him especially; their fascination with bad behaviour stories. Everyone wanted to tell him the particular details concerning the failings of other particular individuals. Everyone wanted to complain about the specific little wrongdoings of those around them; their particular little instances of victimhood. This became a very unfortunate bore. Sometimes the stories were funny and that was fine because it was always good to laugh! But usually it was just a way for people to feel superior to other people, and the man could not perceive this as legitimate. The man saw with certainty that they were all, including himself, in the regular habit of harming others, but also in the regular habit of helping others. Everyone, without exception, participated in both harmony and selfishness. He saw with certainty how blind everyone was to their own failings; how useless it was to complain about others; how the only way to be useful in the world was to examine one's own actions and motivations with courage and the will to improve; how every single person was a hypocrite in that way. But what was the use in telling people this? They only had ears for his approval; for his assurance that they were being mistreated; that they were better than the other guy.

Sometimes he would let himself fall into this game; this recreation, and tell a bad-behaviour story of his own, and then go home - not so much ashamed; but laughing at himself for his own fallibility. It was easy to hand himself back over to the illusions of the instinctive mind and be taken along for a ride for a while. He knew he was no better than anyone else despite his grand and earnest intentions. He was perhaps worse than others, because he could not claim innocence through ignorance. He knew better. And though his own behaviour had generally improved as he participated more in harmony and less in chaos, he there too felt he was more guilty, in a way, than others, because he knew better. He could not feign ignorance of his crimes. He could not plead victim to illusion.

But did he want to keep evolving? Did he want to become a perfect agent of harmony - if this was even possible? He felt the gap, more and more, between his circumstance and that of others. He found it more and more challenging to craft useful ways of communicating these many layers of uncommon understandings because of that gap.

What he did know, is that he needed to be more useful. He knew that he would have to be more bold; be truer to his understandings. Perhaps then some old friends and family would surprise him and demonstrate some capacity to entertain his ideas. And perhaps others would find him intolerable, and no longer ask for his company. Both scenarios would increase his usefulness!

"Who are you to condemn another's sin? He who condemns sin becomes part of it, espouses it." - Georges Bernanos

"Half the work that is done in this world is to make things appear what they are not."
- Elias Root Beadle

"The matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. When you're inside, you look around. What do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, those people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand: Most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And most of them are so inert; so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it."
- Morpheus (from film, The Matrix)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Full Moon Fever

So Ye Olde Security Company is treating me like gold lately; giving me exactly what I want: Plenty of night shifts in comfortable quiet places. I'm literally getting paid to do my own writing while in perfect environments - better than home even; air-conditioned and with fewer interruptions - as in - zero interruptions. They probably don't realize that what they're paying me to do, I would otherwise happily do for free! I've actually been receiving overtime paychecks while I feel like I've been on vacation!

But last night I sort of earned my pay for a short while. Here's what happened:

I'm on duty all alone at a big old factory full of big old machines where they manufacture tractor tillage. It's way down by the harbor, nestled between steel plants - far from any housing. Frost fencing and padlocked gates bar the perimeter although there are bottom gaps where meddling teenagers venturing far from home could crawl through if they really wanted to. All the factory doors are locked but everywhere big low screenless windows are open for ventilation. If anyone really wanted to hop in, it would be a breeze. Never do I think anyone would though.

I make my regular call to another manned guard location; standard practice - so they know that I'm okay, alive and awake. My call-in associate tells me he has been watching coloured lights moving in the sky in strange patterns not akin to any human aircraft he's personally aware of. Well, there is a full moon tonight. Ha ha! Spooky!

So I go on patrol; a twenty-minute affair done once every two hours. First I stop in the middle of the plant to throw a Flaming Lips CD on a stereo. I place the CD case on top of a speaker, crank the volume and do my patrol to the sound of the very catchy tune Race For The Prize which repeats four times. Okay, so someone must have left the stereo on repeat mode, right?

I leave very few lights on in the plant. I figure it's my job to protect the client's financial assets and I'm not afraid of the dark. Toward the end of the patrol, the light directly above me suddenly goes on.

What the f-?

I stop, turn and look around. Is someone messing with me? I know for sure there are no motion sensors of any kind here and I've never known any lights here to turn on or off on their own before. I stand still there for a while looking across the gloomy plant, through and between all the big machines, toward all the locations where I know there to be circuit breakers. But why on earth would any guard or employee slip in here at 1:00 AM just to mess with my head? And no intruder would possibly know which switch would activate which light. The light suddenly turns off again and I remain there looking around and thinking about it. I figure there must be a ballast problem or some other defect with the light or what-not and so I carry on.

Patrol complete, I return to the stereo, lower the volume, remove the CD and -- well fuck a duck. The CD case is missing. I know with perfect certainty that I placed it right here on top of the speaker. It's gone. I check the floor. It must have fallen off. It's not on the floor. It's gone.




This is so not cool.

I'm standing there looking around, trying to spot an intruder and trying to figure out what the logical explanation is. Gradually I move toward the far back corner of the plant. I have one hand on the duty cell phone considering whether to call back my UFO-watching friend - or 9-1-1 for that matter. I decline and instead slip out a back door to check the lots. If there's an unauthorized vehicle on site I will call the police. Outside the full moon looks down on me.

Great. A werewolf with a playful sense of humour. This is definitely not in the security procedures manual. I circle the factory. No suspicious cars. The main gate is way too far away for me to see whether it is still locked or even closed or not. A long hike does not appeal while meanwhile my car keys are still inside at my desk - and oh - so is my wallet with $495.00 cash inside. That thought bolsters my courage. I find a nearby unlockable exit and make straight for the office. The wallet, car-keys and cash are present. I pocket them. I think about the speaker on which I placed the CD case.

It was one of three speakers and it was the largest. Okay. So it must be a sub woofer, right? So it would vibrate like a sonofagun, wouldn't it? The case must have vibrated its way off and took a funny bounce and landed somewhere out of sight; like underneath something. So I grab a big big wrench - no not as a weapon but to use to drag the case out from under its presumed hiding place [Editor's note: Yes, as a weapon] and I march back to the stereo.

And of course - a proper search reveals that the CD case is on the floor and in behind some tricky gadgetry that masked it earlier. I shake my head, laugh at myself and go about clawing at the CD case with my weapon - I mean - tool.

"Lose something?"

The voice was inhumanly deep. I scrambled to my feet. He had to be seven feet tall with long fur hanging off of him in every direction. Yellow eyes. Huge teeth. He crouched down. I was literally paralyzed with fear. He reached past me with his enormous arm and pulled the CD case free. "Here you go."

The CD case was covered in grease and something else - something red.

"Is that blood?" I asked.

"No," said the beast. "I've been drinking cosmopolitans. I'm kinda sloppy."

Okay. Sorry. I'm just kidding. There was no werewolf. I dug the case out myself, brought it back to the office, washed the grease off of it and spent the rest of the shift writing the Eye Of Atchooah heroic adventure parody novel, drinking coffee, eating canned beans and farting. But everything else was true and I admit I was spooked for a bit. So there.

Bye now.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Olympia

Oh Captain Vino. Where were you when I needed you? You would have had a hay-day with this one:

So young Neo and I cut school for an hour today and hit The Olympia for fries and cokes. I wish I could tell you that the Olympia lived up to its name; that its spires transcended the clouds. Alas it is a wilting crapstand of a joint that has perhaps been cleaned since it was built - oh perhaps the same day they invented cigarrettes - which is perhaps why the aging regulars still feel entitled to smoke them.

We were the only patrons in the dining area. Our hostess emerged from some back area, moved behind the bar and shouted to me, "What do you want?"

"Um... lunch?"


I nod my head to reinforce the idea that we would like lunch.

"So what do you want?"

"Um... a menu?"

She turns and grabs a menu. One menu. I go to the bar and get it from her. I return to the table and Neo and I share it. In a fit of profound generosity, the Grim Hostess comes around to the table. We order. The food comes quickly and is good and it is cheap. Afterward I approach the bar, settle the tab and hand over a 50% tip for which she remains silently thankful (I presume).

She' sprobably a really nice person. She probably just mistook me for the local cat murderer.

The experience was so sociopathically entertaining that I actually can't wait to go back.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Novel: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Madeleine L'engle (1978)

Nice story. Nice idea. Sort of along the lines of the "we're all connected" idea that has grown in popularity since this work; one of the follow-ups to the Newberry Medal winning A Wrinkle In Time was written.

L'Engle, who passed away in 2007, was probably a gentle grandmotherly soul. Her narrative suggests such. Unfortunately most of her main characters come across as gentle and grandmotherly, be they man, woman or child. I struggle with any book where the characters do not seem to have independent voices.

Though touted a keener of modern science, she here makes the most pedestrian blunder in missing the most primary relationship between time and space, in effect, placing planet Earth at the very centre of the universe.

The greatest challenge though is this partial cast of characters: Gwen, Gwynedd, Gwydyr, Gedder, Gaudior, Matthew Maddox, Madoc, Madog, Mad Dog, Bran, Branwen, Branzillo, Zillo, Zillie, Zyll, Zillah.

It's probably a way better story than I could have appreciated given there was almost nil hope for keeping the characters straight.