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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

LOOKING AHEAD


on the street where i live
It's lightning and thunder outside, pouring down the rain. Microwave is going, heating this morning's leftover coffee, computer is going and I'm thinking about making a phone call. Might let the phone call wait. Don't really want the soles of my shoes melted to the floor. Flirting with death or a near-death experience, which I'm not so sure I want. I'd hate to get over there and see the glory then have to come back to this. What? Rejected from glory? One thing about it, living after that would be really living like in the hymns of waiting to make heaven my home. What else could one think about after seeing into the other side? I don't like dramatic experiences. If God needs to knock me in the head to get my attention, I like to hope my head isn't so hard I need my attention taken hold of in no uncertain terms. Maybe a thump with a knuckle I'd like to believe would be sufficient to get my attention.
Rain so good for the ground. Our friend. The natural world seems so alien to the world we live in called civilization with tv, internet, i-this and i-that, surfing the economy, never making ends meet, debilitating debt, the never-ending list of should, an unwritten list commonly agreed upon by nearly everyone. You should make more money than you're making now. You should drive this year's model, not last year's. A lot of it is good for social balance, but probably most of it comes from neuroses, massive self-doubt. It's called going-along. Follow the road called Should. The never-ending road that goes nowhere. Illusion. Joseph Campbell said we spend our lives climbing a ladder, and when we get to the top discover it was the wrong ladder. Samuel Beckett wrote of our spiritual condition extensively. WB Yeats said the center doesn't hold any more. At once some of the greatest art that's ever been made and some of the greatest writing ever done. It's been a dynamic century in the arts and manufacturing and money making, medicine, the works. It was a boiling time of the parts swirling around in the stew tumbling in the soup. When the heat is cut down the same parts settle in a new arrangement. That's how I picture to myself the nature of our time. We're in the time now of the fire turned down and the parts beginning to settle in the new patterns. Or so it seems.
We can see where we're headed if we learn to read the patterns. The discovery of electricity and its taming took us collectively to a much higher level spiritually over the course of a century and a half. The process is not yet completed. Traditional societies are going away all over the earth, just like here in the mountains. It's happening in China, in Iran, in Egypt, in Columbia, everywhere. We don't yet know how far these changes are going. I suspect they're going all the way. How else can we look at it than as a continuation of the continuum? That leaves out consideration of the unforeseen, except as a possibility. There's no guessing what the unforeseen might be. And it happens all the time. When we talk about global warming, it's like, ho-hum, sure, Republicans don't believe it, but so what. As temperature rises it has the potential, according to what I've seen from science instead of Rush Limbaugh, of coming to "the fire next time." Summers get hot enough now in a dry time to set off fires. In a dry time something like 125 on FourthaJuly, lightning, cigarette, faulty firework, anything, poof for mega square miles around. Our mountains could become like the California mountains quickly in decades. Fires every summer. I don't mean to imply I have some foresight and I'm here to tell you all about it. I have none. It's just a way of looking at a possible unforeseen. I don't think getting warmer will make a smooth transition from oak and locust to palm and cactus.
Seems like the continuum we can read to predict the direction at least we're headed in, can't hold a great deal longer. It's based too much in denial and the false to have value tested by fire. It will go pssst like a mayfly in a bug zapper. Also, there is the unforeseen hero who can unite people under real values. There's always a hero in the wings. Jet Li's movie, The Hero, is a retelling by Zhang Yimou of ancient Chinese history and legend in the time of the Emperor who set out to unite the 6 separate states into one, Our Land, China. The birth of China. It was a time that needed a hero. Through the course of the story we watch the hero developing toward his destiny. Jet Li's performance as a martial artist was supreme as always. He's so fast the stuntmen who spar with him in choreographed combat have to be the fastest of the fast, and even they talk in those documentaries telling the making of the movie about what it takes to keep up with Jet Li's speed.
They're all in awe of him as a martial artist. He's not what you'd call an actor, but he makes a good movie such that it doesn't matter. He's good enough.
It's been with me today that we're in a really curious time. In one way, the way of living in rural America in a working class condition, small town, it feels like the energy flow is way down on LO. Even SIM. Basic stuff is in motion, but that's about it. It's ok. It's just the momentum as it is now. It doesn't give any sign of cranking up any time soon, either. When I talk with friends in town, I don't know of anybody who thinks we're going in a upward or progressive direction. Progress is a word from the past. It gets called populist now, dirty word. Dirty as socialist. Maybe not quite as dirty as communist. But communist doesn't work any more. Populist is new. Television likes new. Makes me happy I live on my mountain, its people my community. I love my mountain. I don't need to concern myself with what's happening in our government that continues in the throes of Democracy under attack from Barbarians within. I choose to believe Democracy will withstand this test, but it's kind of like pulling for one of the teams on the Super Bowl. Just because I'm pulling for them doesn't mean they'll win.
At the CocaCola500 one year I started out pulling for the M&M car. I liked the color of the car. I like M&Ms. Don't keep up with race lore like I don't keep up with baseball, football or basketball lore. I don't care about the lore. I like the race. I like to watch cars try to outrun each other and see who makes it. The M&M car blew it's motor early in the race, 10 or so laps. I started pulling for Earnhart Jr. His motor blew half way through the race. I was done pulling for a car. It was the kiss of death. It started feeling like a Stephen King novel. I watched the race unconcerned who wins. I saw more of the parts I like the most, one passing another in a difficult situation, but it's gotta be done, I'm gonna get around him or wreck. I like to see 2 or more racing each other, going at it all out. That's a satisfying race for me. The drivers and the vehicles are so so highly tuned, so equally matched like tv sports players, the score is determined by mistakes. That's just the way it is in our time.
In another time it was another way. There was the time Curtis Turner ran Fireball Roberts off the track. When the race was over, Roberts went after Turner with a tire iron meaning business. These were rough fellers too. Like Jr Johnson said of today's drivers, They're just boys. The drivers in his time were men in the old-fashioned meaning. Even the young ones that grew up in hollers running liquor through their teens in hot, fast V8 Fords with good suspension that could outrun cops, were men. It's how they got away. You can be sure they were armed and unafraid of making a pop-gun go bang. They were men. They grew up in a tough world. They were true tough guys, babies in their mama's arms. The only thing we can really say for sure is change is the ongoing constant. Like Country Joe said at Woodstock, Aint no time to wonder why. Whoopee! We're All gonna die!

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