victor vasarely, souzon
Gradually, I'm learning the best way to live in this world is without expectation, without worrying over one thing and another. I catch myself worrying and look at it a moment somewhat detached, and what do I say? What are you worrying about that for? Maybe something somebody said that I took the wrong way, know I took the wrong way, and hold onto taking it the wrong way. Not very productive thinking. I'll catch myself worrying over something for days and weeks at a time, then re-enter the scene I'd been fussing over in my head, or see the individual, and it was not anything like the story I made of it in my sorry mind. Then I have to erase it from my mind and remind myself it's an affinity for drama I have that wants to make everything interesting. Drama amounts to conflict. Though the need for conflict in my mind, which probably started with a preponderance of conflict all around me in the early years, has been waning over the years; still mental conflicts remain. I have a little more control over them now than before. Every once in awhile something happens that pushes a button and another conflict arises. I've come to think of the need for conflict always there, always looking for something to blame it on. Like people I've known who are mad all the time. They're always mad at somebody for some valid reason. I've come to see they're mad all the time; simply put, mad. Every day somebody gets blamed for making them mad. I catch myself doing that and hit the brakes, sometimes. Better even, not to start.
I tend to blame republicans and Reagan for the present divisions going on among the American people. The divisions were already there. I'm looking for a way to detach further and see a little farther horizon. I've an idea this tremendous national conflict we've had over the last 30+ years is an expression of the American people's need for conflict. Again, half a century of television. Conflict upon conflict, continuous conflict, not enough on one channel, switch to another channel. Conflict is the foundation of entertainment. Tv as constant entertainment means constant mental conflict. It takes more and more conflict to keep the average television viewer satisfied. Get up from the tv, go out in the world someplace like a discount store, get mad at the woman at the register, get mad at somebody who left their grocery cart loose in the parking lot, get mad at the car that parked too close and it takes some squeezing to get in the door. How many times have you heard, "That really makes me mad!" I'm coming to see the madness was already there waiting to be triggered with justification.
Young guys are really bad at that, going around seething with anger over home conflicts, "Did you say somethin about my mother?" I'm remembering back in jr hi when I was working with some guys my age in the summer. All of a sudden one year, mother became fighting words. "You callin my mama a bitch? I don't care what you call me. Don't you be talkin bout my mama." It's universal. Right after puberty the guys get all defensive/offensive about their mothers. Not their actual mothers, of course; the idea of mother. Something to start a fight with. "Keep your mother off the streets, won't be no motherfuckers." That one means you want to fight now, because there's no avoiding a fight after dissing the holy of imaginary holies so frontally. Naturally, the kids that have the most drama at home between mom and dad are the kids that need to create conflict every day. One man I know who is especially volatile needs conflict in his mind to feel alive. He keeps the drama going all the time with everyone in his life. He has the name of being overbearing. He's become my example of the meaning of the word whenever I hear someone use it in reference to someone else. Now I know what it means. He's mad all the time inside, constantly tuned to a venting experience. Kicking ass feels good for awhile to somebody angry all the time.
I forget that the primary reason, the number one reason, I came to the mountains from the city to do hard labor on a farm for beef cattle was a belief that came from I knew not where that some years of hard labor would work off my own anger, which was considerable. Once I conceded to divine protection, I didn't need the defense I unconsciously used the anger for. Like my mother uses church to stiff-arm people from getting too close, I feel like I was using anger for the same purpose. Maybe. That sounds a bit thin. There's more to it than that. The anger had nothing to do with manipulation. It was from an entire childhood of having no recourse. By God, when I'm on my own I will. Much rage within that motivated behavior I'm ashamed to even think about now. Not extreme behavior, but expressions of attitudes based in deep resentments. I have walked off a job a couple times for being talked to in ways I don't tolerate in my adult years. I still have the attitude that if an employer has the right to fire an employee, the employee has the right to fire the employer. When I say I don't tolerate, it doesn't mean I fight about it. I just make it clear in whatever way is suitable to the moment that I don't do that shit to you, you don't do that shit to me. It took a long time to get there.
My neighbor Allan Joyce, a very distant relation of James Joyce, handled the same situation I'd been in once and couldn't handle, a job I walked away from after a stormy cussing over something that had nothing to do with me. This particular surveyor was a monster to work for. Off the job, a good man, good neighbor, treated people right. On the job, the intensity of his psyche was like a laser beam compared to a flashlight beam when off the job. He was so intense, and furious within, that the least little thing set him off on a cussing streak, throwing his hat on the ground and jumping up and down on it, like in cartoons. I saw my respect going away like an avalanche. I stopped working for him because he was my neighbor and I didn't want to completely lose respect; when it's gone, it's gone. I found as time went by that I actually had lost respect. Allan, who worked successfully for him for several years, told me one day of a cussing he got at work over the walkie talkie. Allan cussed him right back, over the walkie talkie. He told Allan he can't talk to him like that. Allan said, "If you're going to talk to me like that, I'll talk to you like that." The end. He never talked to Allan like that again. I was floored when Allan told me. That was all I had to do. No, I had to puff up telling myself I don't have to take that shit, until I blew my stack. And Allan handled it in just a few words. No big deal. End of issue.
There is the story from Steve Earle's biography of him finally, after wanting to know Bob Dylan for years, getting to open for a Dylan tour. Big deal for Steve who held Dylan the highest. Some time into the tour Steve was getting mad because Dylan never looked at him, spoke to him, acknowledged him in any way. One day Dylan's manager came to Steve Earle and told him Dylan wants him to watch his language on stage. Earle's automatic reply was, "Fuck him." Next day Dylan spoke to Earle, started paying attention to him and they became buddies, I guess as much as you can be in that world. Might have smoked some reefer together and talked about business. If you like a good biography, Steve Earle's is a very well written life story of an American man becoming conscious in the course of his experience. By the end, I felt like I knew Steve Earle the man behind Steve Earle the star. I like Steve Earle the man, which helps me like his music more than I would just hearing it on the radio. Instead of hearing him and seeing videos of concerts, I have insight into what kind of a human being is writing his lyrics. His lyrics attest to who he is. I see him somebody who had to find a way to get over his own interior rage, and has lived his life maintaining and fine tuning his balance. I believe he has come close enough to reaching his goal to be a great American songwriter that by the last days of his life he will feel satisfaction, maybe for the first time.