Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cobbled Together From Wire and String


Let's see, who am I? Who am I? Hmmm. Okay, I'm a kind man. Except when I'm not. I'm a warm and caring man...except when I'm not. I believe in compassion and easing the suffering of my fellows. Except I don't always do that.

Wow, this Self is hard. Let's see. I really hate when people do Yoda impressions. Especially late at night when I'm tired and just trying to wind down. I'm stretching and yawning and getting ready to end the day and then some jackass starts in with his Yoda voice and it just goes on and on. Then someone else has to chime in with their Yoda voice and the two of them start egging each other on. Then I have to go to my room and shut the door and drown them out with my headphones.

What else have I got? I really like it when people smile at each other. Especially on the bus where everyone seems to wear a blank frown as their default facial expression. Then some abuela gets on the bus and smiles kindly at everyone and a feeling of warm sunshine spreads down the crowded aisles and we all wake up and take notice, like, "Hey - we're all human beings right now!" Or maybe we just all love a smiling abuela.

Building a viable Self is an act of faith and creative writing. I am currently building one with some driftwood I found at the beach, a couple of old notebooks, a pound of coffee beans, a bottle of ink, the Tao, and lots of pipe cleaners, tackling wire, duct tape, and action straps. It's not pretty, but it's mine.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Call It Innocence

Do you remember when a kiss
was the entire world?
The heat of shared breath,
the intoxication of an earlobe
and the fine hair on the slope of a neck;
a whispered scent so other and so right.
We knew the joyous inability
to register the reactions of strangers,
a sweet rebellion of two.
It wasn't indulgence
because we didn't know deprivation.
We claimed the right of sunshine on the face
and the rule of abundance without time.

Or at least until curfew.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dialogue of Two Old Guys Watching Spiderman 2 While Waiting For the Game to Start

OLD GUY 1: Whoa. That sure is some strong web. He stopped a train with that stuff.
OLD GUY2: Wonder where he bought those hand shooter things.
OG1: Store bought. He knows a place in Queens.
OG2: Yeah, probably a good deal. But they getcha on the refills. That's how they getcha.
OG1: Yeah, like toner.
OG2: Crooks.


OG1: Oh look, he ripped up his pretty little suit.
OG2: Musta been made in China.


OG1: That Doc Ock has gotta be an alkie. He's swaying like a wino.
OG2: Nah, look at him - violent, dirty trenchcoat, talking to his hands - definitely a meth-head or somethin'.
OG1: Love to see him doing eight different drugs at once.


OG1: Okay, now they got all the cliches on one train. The construction worker. The business guy. The pregnant woman.
OG2: Yeah and every single race is represented. All for Spidey's big moment.
OG1: I don't see any Puerto Ricans. This is New York and there's no Puerto Ricans?
OG2: The Puerto Ricans are the ones who stole his mask. They hopped off two stops back.


This has been another installment of Old Guy Theater! Thank you for joining us! Goodnight and "go blow it out your hole"!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Rigors and Rewards of Pack Life

I am waking up again to life and starting to remember what it means to be a human being among human beings. Left to my own dubious devices, I isolate, I run away, I disappear. I stray from the herd, following some misfired instinct of self-preservation. And as we have learned from National Geographic specials, bad things happen to the pack animal who goes off on his own.

Don't worry, I didn't have some wild epiphany on the joys of conformity. No: what I am talking about is communitas. Human beings need each other, and despite what my head tells me, I am a human being. Living in a recovery house and interacting with my roommates reminds me that I need - and want - real human contact. I benefit from talking to other people, laughing with them, helping and being helped. I benefit from sitting in group therapy or meetings and letting myself be seen and known. I feel like the crazy dog Cesar Milan throws in with his emotionally balanced pack of dogs - the crazy dog calms down and learns how to be a dog again.

On a very real physiological level, we need each other: our nervous systems regulate and balance themselves when we are around other people. It's a fact, so you might as well accept it and return a smile or two. I know it's not always easy. I was raised on westerns, war movies, and detective fiction, so the idea of the lone wolf is still appealing. But the empirical evidence of my life has shown me that that is not who I am. I get strange without people, I get stuck in the attic in my head with all the dusty furniture and anachronistic machinery. Being the lone wolf almost got me killed. Q.E.D.

So I'll wake up tomorrow and try not to wake up my roommate while I get ready. I'll make a full pot of coffee so the guys down the hall can have some too. I'll speak up in group and find out how the others are doing. I'll listen and be present for them. I'll go see my friends and be "a friend among friends". I'll run with the pack and when I need to go off on my own, I'll leave in good cheer, because I know they'll be there when I get back.