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Saturday, March 15, 2014

SHANGRI LA HERE NOW

Kandinsky
 
A dove is pecking among the pine needles on the ground outside the window. Outside another window a dove is pecking for seeds the other birds missed during the day. They make me think of childhood living near the football stadium. First thing in the morning after a game the night before, I climbed the gate and scavenged the stadium, walking its labyrinth, each section of rows back and forth all the way to the top, then back down the next section. I often went home with maybe a dollar and a half average, maybe. Even pennies found were like striking gold. A quarter was a very big deal. People carrying popcorn trays up and down the aisles. Daddy or date or whatever, pays with bills and receives change, maybe a dime fell out of his hand while he was putting the change in his pocket. Questions like this played in my mind in bed at night. How did it get there? The forever unknown unknowable. It's a different world from the 1950s I went into age 8 and came out of the 50s age 18. Public school education. It was the late 40s and early 50s that I vacuumed the stadium with coin-detector eyes. In the middle 50s came rock n roll like a rocket taking off, a little slow at first and faster, faster unto now when it is round the clock everywhere. I'm remembering a woman from Raleigh I was talking with in the coffee shop with a Polish accent, she was from Krakow, the same place Roman Polanski lost his parents, his neighbors, his life when the Jews were rounded up. He was 8. He was slick and escaped. Found his way at night to the country and was taken in by a farm couple. The woman in the coffee shop noted she had a boy who was 8 and she wondered what decisions he is making for himself that will direct his life.
 
kandinsky
 
I carried that one home, have lived with it since, every once in awhile looking at self age 8, the best I was able, which wasn't much. An inward rebel. A kid seething with rage pretending not to be. A kid looking at globes in school for the farthest point on the globe. Alas, it was water. I wanted it to be Shangri La, like the movie. Not long out of high school I found a paperback in a drugstore rack, the Third Eye, by Lobsang Rampa. It said on the cover he was from Tibet. It was my first experience with anything Tibet. All I knew was Tibet equaled Buddhist monastery. I wanted to be in one. I wanted out of this crazy damn world and also knew I was nowhere near able to sit still and stare at a wall. I took Tibet, Shangri La, for a place I wanted to escape to. Television came into the house age 8. I saw a lot of Saturday documentaries and there was Lowell Thomas showing Tibet, which popped my eyeballs out of my head. In National Geographic I looked at pictures of Tibet as my ideal place, as far away from HERE as I could get. Here, of course, was wherever I was. I probably did not know, age 8, but as soon as I heard about Tibet and learned where it was located, I saw it was in the zone of opposite as I could get staying in the northern hemisphere. It was a childhood longing for escape from home and church. I dreamed of the day I would walk away, have my own life and drive a car with a playboy bunny air freshener hanging from the mirror. Dream on, dumb kid, it's not that simple. Dumb kid found out. I'm looking at before the finding out starts, waiting for the curtains in front of the movie screen to open. I absorbed Lobsang Rampa's book like a sponge. The life of my own experience began with a stumble and fall, slip on a banana peel, stumble into the wall. The word that characterizes the years 18 to 23 is confusion, confusion in a bewilderment way, befuddled. Everything was a mystery that everybody knew the answers to but me.
 
kandinsky
 
The Fifties were the Eisenhower years, the pre-Reagan republican time of Communist witch-hunts ruining and destroying the lives of far too many for conscience to allow. G-Men. Ideologues don't go by conscience. I remember the drills in first grade of crawling under the desk at school in case a Russian atomic bomb was dropped on us. Daddy worked at GM knocking dents out of cars on the assembly line, "a ding man." I remember recession after recession through the I-Like-Ike time, daddy getting "laid off" and finding a job driving a milk truck or driving a cab. In one of those times the guy he drove milk truck for repoed daddy's dream car, a 51 Oldsmobile that had nice lines. Borrowing money from loan sharks. An electrical line broke in a windstorm and a live wire landed on his Nash Rambler parked in front of the house and burned it up. He had bad luck with classy cars. I remember telling myself in that time I would never work for a big corporation where the employees are anonymous and expendable. I made the decision in childhood, in that time, that I would not bring a kid into this world, would not be married, would live alone all my adult life by choice. A subject I'd think about in the night, longing so much, longing with all my child's might never to repeat this kind of family experience. Debt and church, union strikes and recessions. I said I will not live my life like this. I determined that I would live simply without ambition for money. During the Fifties, a boom time for media, construction, war and manufacturing, a time of progress, the fiction of Graham Greene, which I did not know about at the time, the world I lived in was devoid of anything of interest to me. At school we took a bus to the Nelson art museum in Kansas City. I was in awe with no idea why. Never saw another museum until after leaving parents. The Fifties was when propaganda was the norm, like now. Then, we made uncertain jokes about being wire-tapped hearing an odd click or something on the telephone. All my life I've known to watch everything I say and certainly never use the word communist, and now it's bomb. Propaganda reality.
 
kandinsky
 
In the last year of college was corporation day when corporate recruiters visited the campus to make job offers or whatever. I didn't even step on campus that day. It was the corporate indifference for the individual human being. The corporate world is sharp-edged as a chef's butcher knife. I like a world with soft edges. I like working for individuals or small business. It doesn't pay, but I don't want the pay. Something else I learned in childhood was it's money or time, which is my choice? I chose time. Everybody around me chose money. I can't say I did anything big deal with my time, but I can say I've enjoyed my time. I never made more money than immediately necessary to get by on, didn't want more. I could have if I'd wanted to stay in a city. I could have here in the rural world, but didn't want it. Felt like money was a form of exchange, but could not live with only money in my mind. I've been seeing the corporate takeover of our government since that time. I've seen it evolve into what it has become, a wasting of the continent's resources and a wasting of its people, especially the working class, regarded by capitalists as the enemy. It's why I live on a rural road to nowhere. In childhood my comfort was a vast acreage of woods behind the house. Another comfort was grandmother, whose culture I live in on Waterfall Road. School was a comfort too, it kept me away from home. I live in the old Air Bellows schoolhouse. Thus, I suppose, education became important as a significant comfort. I've moved into a world composed of the comforts of childhood, made those comforts into a way of life. It worked then. It works now. It is Air Bellows Mountain where I found my Shangri La.     
 
kandinsky
 
 
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