that's joe on the left
Went by the coffee shop today at lunch time for some Ethiopian coffee and a homemade scone, made by Selma. Joe was in there talking with somebody I'd never seen before. The other guy left and Joe came over and we started talking. I like to visit with Joe. He has a refreshing mind. He doesn't gripe all the time, and when he does gripe, it's in uncertainty. He's not somebody to tell you it is this way or that, no three ways about it, and isn't concerned that you necessarily agree with him. He's a mature individual who realizes we all have different experiences. He even understands that he and I, facing each other talking, we are each having a different experience. Even though we talked together, what he remembers from our conversation I'm sure is very different from what I remember. For one thing, I remember seeing Joe, and he remembers seeing me. That's a radical difference right there. I don't mean that we're radically different in matters of race, nationality, language and gender. We have similar education level, we both read books, and we both think our own thoughts. I say radical, because I see radical differences between any two individuals. This has to do with why we have such a hard time getting along with other people. By hard time, I mean really not understanding each other. In my generation a lot of young girls, 18-21, would feel suicidal because nobody understood them. I had a couple of friends who talked like that, and one made half-hearted attempts. I'd think, but not say, Get used to it; nobody is ever going to understand you.
I'm attempting to give you something of Joe's character that I could describe, but it's all so freely flowing like spirit, one aspect of him blending into another aspect, shifting in and out of memory, a full human being, which I cannot begin to comprehend. This has been my problem all my life, feeling awed by the fullness of anyone I'm around at the moment, the fullness of spirit in them, a mind that works very differently from mine, like as if from another country, another culture, another language. Always uncertainty in attempting to guess someone's thinking, attitude, beliefs. Earlier in my life I thought I understood other people, knew some people. Later, that fell away when I realized I don't know anybody, not even myself. I don't even know Caterpillar, the cat I've lived with 15 years. I know her habits, her characteristics, but I don't know her as another cat knows her and I don't know her as she knows herself. She's a gray long-haired cat very easy to get along with and a loving friend. By now, I don't try to know anybody. I let the spirit flow and see how we interact. I like my interactions with others best when I don't concern myself with preconceptions. I like receiving people I'm around as they want to be received, simply by paying attention when they talk. That's how I think I know people around me best is by allowing them who they are. How else can I get to know them? I can't get to know somebody by thinking, What tacky taste!
Looking at Joe in my mind and looking for a way to describe him accurately that he and ones who knew him well would find acceptable characterization of who he is, I draw a blank. All I see is spirit. I see spirit in my memory before I see his face. I talk with the spirit of the other, not the face or name. I see Joe someone who knows the tree by its fruits instead of judging when it comes to knowing others. He has enough understanding to know judging doesn't get it, but we also have our life in this world that really has a hard time giving up judging. Let's just say he's not judgmental. When I'm talking with Joe I don't feel like he's sizing me up, assessing me in relation to himself and finding me not looking too good by comparison. I don't feel like judging is going on with Joe. I don't dare say he doesn't judge, because we all do, but it is weak in him, not strong. Weak because he understands. Joe came up West Virginia fundamentalist like I came up Kansas fundamentalist; we have that bridge of understanding between us that is automatic like birds of a feather. When I first met Joe I thought of the state of Mississippi. When I lived in South Carolina, people said of SC where poverty was concerned, "Thank God for Mississippi." Now in North Carolina, people say of NC where poverty is concerned, "Thank God for West Virginia." I couldn't introduce myself saying, "You remind me of a joke." Joe is not a West Virginia cliche. I doubt he even watches Moonshiners on the History channel. I can just about say I'm certain he does not. But I don't know for sure. He might be a hillbilly wannabe and never quite had what it took. I doubt it.
When Joe's spirit and my spirit are interacting vocally I feel a real exchange of thoughts or ideas, what have you, passing between us like two colors of water blending together when they meet. It's not many people I feel so free with conversationally. Free in that it doesn't matter if we disagree. It matters not to me, matters not to Joe. We explore the differences in how we see things. We both understand no two people think alike or see from the same perspective. Therefore, we can laugh at our different ways of seeing whatever the theme. Joe's spirit is not confrontational. That's what I think I like best about Joe conversationally. Not confrontational. I've never been comfortable with people who are always wanting to stir something with some kind of in-yer-face confrontational remarks. When that starts, I'm gone. I've never found confrontational talk entertaining, certainly never interesting, and all I see is ego spouting like a lawn sprinkler in all directions. Not so with Joe. The line of thinking his childhood religious experience led him into was an interest in theological writings, looking to get a better understanding of scripture than what you can get from a harping preacher. What it did to me was spit me out, made me abandon Christendom, in other words, religion. Both Joe and I understand religion is another matter of the few controlling the many, a control device, free money.
I think maybe Joe would define himself a skeptic who allows. He may be skeptical of something somebody believes, but doesn't concern himself with converting the other to his way of seeing. He allows the other their own point of view. He'll freely allow himself to ask you what you mean when you're not being clear. That's a good thing. I like that we can talk about anything too. No restrictions due to belief systems either way. I've an idea if each one of us laid out what we believe about God, the Christ, salvation, they would be very different. Joe might look at it and say we are very far apart. I'd look at it and see we're the same. I'm not sure if he's seen beyond Christendom enough yet to see that all the religions are based in the same core. I short-change Joe to assume he might not see that. I don't mean to do that. What I'm getting at is his spiritual education by reading and experience has been largely in Christendom. I've found all the religions so much the same, I could flow from one to the other; all I'd have to learn would be the culture around each one. I could become a Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist easily. They're the same to me. The very same. They just grew up in different cultures. Like people growing up in different cultures, the religions would be that kind of different. I'm not sure if Joe sees Christendom as a pearl on a string of pearls. Joe doesn't seem to be as alarmed as I am at how dreadfully far Christians have twisted the words of Jesus from their obvious meanings. Again, I short-change him assuming that. Like I say, I really don't know him well enough to answer any questions for him. But I do enjoy throwing thoughts around in the air like boomerangs with Joe.