eye am eye
The lead question for day 2 of blogathon: Who are you and what do you see your work as "being?" What I hear in my head is the Who: Who are you? Who-who? Who-who? The funny part for me is that I hold being-who-you-are as number one. Everybody seems to automatically know what it means to be-who-you-are. I take it for granted I know who I am. But, when it comes to answering a direct question, I don't know what to say. I like the Rasta answer: I am I. It sounds pretty, but it's a cheap shot. It's like defining beer by saying beer is beer. What constitutes I? Blake said the eyes are the windows to the soul. No doubt about it. Here is a picture of my window. This picture of my left eye was taken by a 5 year old boy, Landon. I gave him the camera to take some pictures and he took pictures of my eyes. I'd been taking pictures of him, so he took pictures of me. I'll start here, with Landon, the five year old. I've known Landon's daddy, Justin, since Justin was a baby. His mother and dad were my friends. Justin was my child friend when he was little, my teenage friend, my wild friend in his wide-open years, and now his kids are my friends. I like kids. I like it when a child shows me toys and dolls. I like to see a child smile and laugh. I like a child to show off for me; do a dance, sing a song, throw a ball. I feel like I understand a child is every bit as conscious as I am. My few memories from very early childhood are of adults who listened when I talked. I listen closely when a child tells me something, anything. The Justin I knew all through his childhood is the same Justin I know now. I'm glad to see who he is now at age 30 is the same as who he was when he was 5. What I'm looking for in self to answer who I am is that something that has been who-I-am since birth, the thread that runs through a string of beads, aspects of self.
For anyone acquainted with reading horoscopes, this tells who I am in brief; Sun-Taurus, Moon-Cancer, Ascendant-Sagittarius, 19May1942SanDiego8:52pm. Taurus is my main drive. A Taurus is like a donkey in that if he doesn't want to do it, it aint gonna happen. I've got stubborn in abundance. I have no problem with it, same as a donkey doesn't have a problem with it. Somebody wants me to jump through a ring of fire, I'm not going to do it if I don't want to. Call me a wuss, call me a pussy, call me a jerk-off, I'll laugh out loud; you're just barking to hear your head roar. It really pisses off anyone I get involved with in any kind of way who thinks controlling me is the way to go. I dove into six years of psychotherapy to find out what was motivating my attraction to women looking for somebody to control. Bingo: mommy. That wasn't all I went through the process for. It felt like the next thing on my path. Know thyself. It took. I learned a very great deal. And now the psychotherapist is a valued friend. Still, it's difficult looking for who I am to put into words, instead of just feeling intuitive about it. Perhaps the most important part to me of who I am is a lover of God. And where who I am is concerned in the God department, I go my own way. I cuss, I drink liquor, I do all the things somebody who claims a spiritual path is not supposed to do. Who says? I cuss because I like the spice and music in language. I drink because I like the bite of straight liquor, not to get drunk. A church would not accept my refusal to give up my sins. They're not sins to me. They're everyday life. God doesn't want us to walk a tightrope over a pit of crocodiles unless you're Philippe Petit and want to do it for the fun there is in it.
What I have found that it could be about the poor that God loves is the poor live close to the bone. They don't pretend. They want to say every forbidden word there ever was and they know how to do it. The poor are animated by their humanity. They have nothing else. Want to get drunk and sprawl face-down in the dirt, go for it, do what you gotta do. Nothing about social climbing attracts God's attention. Fake people God stays asleep to. God waits for the individual to come to the end of needing to fake it. God waits. I've spent my adult life wondering what it is about the poor that God loves so much. Meher Baba, when he was in the body, sitting receiving people who came to see him in a long line or individually, he always stood up when greeting an American black person. The very people the white people look down on so forcefully. I don't attempt to be God-like by imitating saintly behavior. Makes me barf to think about acting sweet all the time. By the example of King David I've learned it isn't being nice that God loves. It's being yourself, it's following your own light, it's allowing the people around to follow their own light, it's getting shit-faced drunk if I feel like it. Last time that happened was sitting at the kitchen table with my friend Jr Maxwell, who was 82 at the time, New Year's Eve. We decided to spend the evening at the table talking like we did over our drams of white liquor, the best on this earth. By midnight our foreheads were on the table and we were laughing because everything was funny. I believe God thought it was funny too. One afternoon I stopped by his house and saw, in alarm, the storm door open a little ways and his foot was holding it open, him on the floor. I went to him fast as I could go. First thought: heart attack. I saw his glass was sitting upright on the floor beside his hand. I knew he was all right. He went down slowly and sat his glass on the floor on his way down. I did the stupid thing, woke him up and tried to help him up. No. He was fine where he was. OK. I put some bluegrass on the cd player of fiddlers he used to play banjo with. He stayed on the floor and lay there with a serene smile on his face for probably an hour. He was where he wanted to be. When he was ready, he got up.
a recent painting of jr maxwell
I had to take a break. Went over to Justin's with Melvin to see the race at Phoenix. Good race today. Play time with the kids. I went with the question of who I am in mind, thought I'd observe self amidst my closest friends, people I would die for. Self was content and happy the whole time. I look at them in the line of the people I have been close with over years, people gone for many years. In each generation I have seen the waning of mountain culture from generation to generation. Yet the culture continues through very different circumstances such that the culture is still very much alive in the mountain people. I am a naturalized hillbilly. I came from flatland culture, but adopted hillbilly culture for my own. I'm still relatively comfortable with people of urban/suburban culture, but am at home among my hillbilly friends. I don't see their culture a lesser version of city culture. I see it unique unto itself with its own history. An individual's humanity is important among mountain people. We know each other for who we are. I came to the mountains as a monk going to a monastery. In my imagination I identified in the early years with Chinese poet Han Shan, known only for his hundred poems that make the book Cold Mountain. He was a monk who lived in the mountains of southern China. I don't tell this. It's just my own personal self-image. I live quietly on a back road and stay to myself nearly all the time. On Sundays I go see Justin's family and sometimes on Friday night drive to Woodlawn, Virginia, to hear some good music of the region. On trips to town for drug store or grocery store or anything, I'll stop in at the coffee shop and see who's there. Who I am looks for the god in everyone I meet and I like to connect with others in that way. Not by talking about God. Rather by simply being open. Several years ago, I don't know about now, I had the name all over the county of a "white witch." Word was that good things happened to people who spent time around me. I had a guy I didn't know come to my door at 7 one morning because he needed a change in his life, needed whatever it is. I've heard it in different ways from different people. The consensus is that good things happen to people who know me. I don't pay it any mind. If there is something coming through me, I would ruin it attempting to take control of it. I just leave it be and pay it no mind.
round and round