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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

THE RIVER OF MIND

     katy sage's grave unmarked in the old indian part of the cemetery

I'm beginning to see the writing in this blog is something like putting a kayak in a river at a certain point and riding it to a getting-out place. It's a different place along the river each time. It's always the same river on its way to the ocean. Different scenery along the same river. It is a daily paddling to the sea. As long as there is river, I'll be recording the scenery, unless the river runs through a nursing home and all I see after that is ceiling, the movie screen for memories. Like the Chinese philosopher who questioned if he might be a butterfly dreaming it's a man, maybe I'm in the nursing home now and my everyday life is memories seen on the ceiling above the bed. Maybe not. Macro is as interesting a fractal to investigate as micro. It seems the more I investigate, the more I come to see motivation in karma, and the components of the illusion we call reality are entirely subjective. We agree collectively on some aspects of reality, the objective. We're on our own where the subjective is concerned.


In childhood, one of the many subjects I could not talk with adults about, or other kids, was seeing the subjectivity in everything, that there is no objective but in our minds. Years later, a decade and a half ago, I went to see a psychotherapist for two reasons, and both were satisfied. First, why I was attracted to controlling women? Second, there was something I knew in childhood that had been taught out of me and forgotten. What is it? It turned out to be the absolute subjectivity of everything. When that came forward, it was a major find. It had, indeed, been taught out of me. I remember a big field that had once been meadow, where the realization came to me initially, big sky, no trees on the unpaved road to Monkey Mountain that looks over the Kaw River, a good smoke signal place for Indians. Monkey Mountain was my favorite playground. I found fossils of sea shells and creatures that once lived on the floor of the ocean. I didn't take them seriously as a big deal find, rather as evidence for me and me only that this part of the world had been ocean floor. Nobody at home cared when I showed up with fossil sea shells. If I could waste my time at such foolishness I could wash the car, mow the grass, whichever. Taught me early to keep wonderment to myself, to guard that which was precious to me from the indifferent context of my life, from certain punishment.


Overzealous belief in punishment is the only parenting skill I know. I never wanted to pass it on to another, to have it coming FROM me to somebody else I would not want to do that to. That is why the thought of reproduction has mortified me all my life. My sister and I fought physically parallel our parents fighting emotionally, every minute of every day. The tension in the air inside the house was so dense as to need a password. It terrifies me to think of living like that again, by choice. I took the deep plunge once and it didn't work. My head was so full of ongoing arguments, television, debts, tension, I looked ahead and saw that I cannot live like this much longer. Somebody else might have taken 12 years to be able to cut the chain, but once I saw what was happening, I could not, would not live the rest of my life like that. I wanted a good life for myself, not one tangled up in psychic tension with somebody I didn't even like anymore, and somebody else's kid. By good life, I mean with a possibility that I not have arguments going in my head all the time with my "better half," who is going through the same thing with me. I could not live my life according to the social formula my mother, who never gives up attempting control, would attempt to enforce all the rest of my life.


I've chosen to stay beyond the bounds of her radar screen, out of control's way. By now, she's given up, is actually allowing me to be myself making my own decisions. She's caught on there's no other way. Ask anyone who knows me. I will live my own life. Some say, I want you to be like this. Some say, I want you to be like that. I say, y'all go ahead and be like this and that yourselves, you be the ones to reap the benefit, if it's so great. Leave me out of it. I think so often of Jacques Prevert's poem, JE SUIS COMME JE SUIS, I am as I am, I was born this way....  It's in an anthology of French poetry in the other room on a shelf, probably online too. It's kind of like a Parisian whore's answer to, What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this? It is Jacques Prevert, himself, the rooster saying, Cock-a-doodle-doo!!! Here I am. I am I. I man. Jah rule. I think of Prevert's poem the ultimate answer to the ongoing question, Why don't you conform? Answer: I am I. I don't care to be a robot concerned with playing the assets game, the status game. I don't like to golf. I like to have room in my mind to get in the kayak and see what's ahead.


I didn't know it then, but the cemetery Katy Sage of Elk Creek, Virginia, is buried in--white girl kidnapped and sold to the Wyandotte Indians of Ohio---was directly across the river. Katy Sage grew up the blond princess, then the blond queen. Raised as the chief's daughter, she married the next chief who died young. The next chief married her. The tribe was pushed westward to what is now the Turner section of Wyandotte County in Kansas City, Kansas. I grew up in Wyandotte County. The school I went to, Ben Franklin, was directly across the river from Katy Sage's grave, in Argentine, an easy crow flight. By road, it's five miles because it's a couple miles to the bridge, then a couple miles back to the cemetery, a very long bridge and complicated ways to get on and off it (for somebody doing it the first time). The sign at Elk Creek, Virginia, by the side of the road, reminds me of seeing her grave, feeling an interesting connection with her by proximity.


I grew up identifying with Wyandotte County, named after Katy Sage's tribe. Her brother found her after several years searching. He wanted to take her back to see mama. She declined. That wasn't her life any more. If I had known about Katy Sage then, I could have seen the cemetery from Monkey Mountain. Now, that big meadow on top is a subdivision as far as the eye can see. I didn't even want to find what developers had done to Monkey Mountain. The place seemed to me to have a life of its own, or you might say its own spirit, like I believe the mountain I live on has its own spirit. For me, Monkey Mountain was a connection with Indians of that region of the Plains states. I knew for a certainty, just by it's location above the river, the river making a bend around it, that Indians made smoke signals there. I imagine they believed it had powers, a consciousness, a name other than Monkey Mountain. I never knew where it got the name. Possibly a traveling circus monkey escaped and got lost in the woods around the sides of the mountain. It was a tremendous acreage of woods, especially in the time of traveling circuses, if indeed, that's the case, which I doubt. There are not too many ways a monkey could have got there in the time the "mountain" got its name.


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