I heard again a few days ago someone mention in passing about returning to work Monday morning, "Back to the real world." I thought: how many times have I heard this expression and used it, myself, unconsciously? Something to say never examined because it sounds right. The first time it struck me when I was using the expression, I questioned, why is my life the "unreal" world and the world of commerce the "real" world? Upon a hundredth of a second's thought, I saw the saying twisted around from the actual meaning of what we're saying. In the past I'd think of a trip to town for work or paying bills, anything, as reentering the real world. Back to the real world. Cities have unconsciously come to be thought of as the real world, the world that matters. It's the world of generating money. Everything that's done has money for its motivation. I've been told several times of staying on my mountain too much that I need to get back in the real world. An aunt told me on the phone with dramatic urgency on the day Conway Twitty died, when I confessed I did not know he died that day, I need to get out of the mountains and back in the real world. She lost a great deal of credibility in that moment. It wasn't because she said it, but I was told so vehemently to start watching television, pay attention to what's going on in the real world. On my end of the phone, I was stunned, actually. I didn't realize she was so limited. Television? Real world? I don't care if you believe it, but stay out of my face with it. I have thought about why I don't watch tv and why I am in the mountains, thought about it before I left the city. I don't watch tv with purpose. I've thought about it. I'm here with purpose, not just passing through with a surfboard on the roof of my car. Family, extended family, and others from the first half of my life are unable to find in their own minds my motivation to live in Wrong Turn, North Carolina. I could explain, but it takes more than a phrase, and the times I attempted to explain, it put them to sleep after just a few sentences. Their eyes glaze over and I see they're off someplace else, can't follow it. No visuals, no commercials, no flash. Nothing but acoustic audio; doesn't sound right when it's not complaining.
I felt like it was an important discovery for my interior life. I do not see giving carrots to donkeys unreal, or having a friend relationship with donkeys, hearing the birds, the crows, reading, listening to music, making art objects, trees all around, sky and clouds, sun and moon, Caterpillar, my friends. It's a benign, happy world where I don't possess or control anyone but myself the best I'm able. My attitude toward buying the donkeys was buying them out of slavery. They had economic purpose alone in a herd of cattle to keep coyotes from killing the calves. I give them a life in a meadow of their own where they can have a love relationship without interruption of one being taken away never to be seen again by surprise. I hear in my head Jenny singing to Jack as Nina Simone, I loves you Donkey, don't let em take me, don't let em handle me and drive me mad...I'd like to stay here with you forever. I do not think this is the unreal world in what we mean when we divide our subjective selves from the objective world of commerce indifferent as the ocean. I do not consider the indifference to the human spirit, characteristic of the world of commerce, to be real. It's about money. What is more unreal than money? The multi-billionaires have bought our government rendering us without democracy and without recourse. They are the unreal people, people who intend to reenact an Ayn Rand novel at the expense of everyone else whose resources these people have drained to give themselves power to turn American life into the Rand/Reagan ideal, Masters and Slaves. It's working for them. I do not call that real thinking or real action. It's as unreal as a John Wayne movie, and so without conscience I'd call it criminal, destructive to so many lives, unto the life of civilization's vanguard democracy. We have been conquered from within, tricked by the American character itself, lust for money. Spinning wheel, round and round. It looks like it's time for the American people to do without and learn to live in Third World poverty. The Reagan Revolution worked. They made it work using racism.
The unreal world is a world without love, without compassion, without empathy. Television keeps the economy flowing with commercials generating money by way of sophisticated mind control, eroding our decency toward one another. Two-thirds of a century after television became the shrine in every American home, Xtreme craziness is popping up everywhere. What's causing this? Why is it so copycat to shoot up a shopping center or a school or a McDonalds or anywhere? Or for cops to shoot unarmed young black men? There's an old country saying, It's the weakest link in the chain that breaks. We have weak links popping everywhere. Must be a time of high stress. Noise, distraction, interruption. This is the unreal world. I'm not giving up my donkey meadow, my home on a mountain I love, the community I love, to go live in trailer park poverty in some horrid city where hostile attitudes permeate the air. To watch television and be in the "real" world? I think I'll stay on my mountain and not watch tv. I have several years experience of the inner peace of living without tv, by choice, on Waterfall Road. I also have several years experience in the world of commerce, the world of town and city. At home on Waterfall Road I am in my subjective world where love flows around here, compassion. All the green around the house has come up of its own volition, volunteered. I asked the ground what it wanted and it told me it would like to go back to trees. I said, Good, that's in accord with what I want. To get all the more subjective, the mountain once told me it appreciates me living on it, because I respect it. This spot had the topsoil bulldozed away to make a flat area to put up a little house. I've been allowing topsoil to grow over the years, leaves decompose from year to year like in the woods, fertilizing the roots, encouraging worms, wild violets, jewelweed, ferns. I put donkey droppings around the rhododendron and their change to more vibrant is visible. I'm satisfied that after more than 35 years I've restored topsoil to this spot that is in my care. Birds, chipmunks, squirrels, donkeys are at home here. They don't need to invade my house because I give them enough sunflower seeds to squirrel away for winter. I see them with their cheeks full and say, Take as many as you can get; winters are cold and long.
Donkey Jenny stands by the gate, a place she likes to stand, a comfortable place for her. In the time of day they take a siesta, time out from grazing, Jack likes inside the shed and Jenny likes the shade by the gate for meditation parallel with the fence, switching her tail, stamping a back foot to shake off a fly. Baby Vada a-wallerin me on the couch, my hands and arms her bumpers, her safety net between bouncing on the couch and the floor. Vada's daddy telling me about a new arrow tip that he described "wicked" with a little horror emphasis. They are six for thirty-five dollars. "It will be worth thirty-five dollars to see what they do." I'll spare you the mental image of what it does. He's wanting a bear. I pray for the bear. He kills deer throughout the hunting season. I send their souls on to the next life with silent prayer. His family eats them and he kills them instantly. I have to applaud that. Absence of adrenaline in the blood, a natural life and a natural diet. It's not meat found at Walmart from cows with cancer. He can feel good that his kids are being raised on real food, not the chemical cocktails that go with corporate feed lots where the cows eat from troughs, stand in shit to their knees. Animals hate standing in shit. They don't like to step in it either. In a meadow of cows you don't see hoof prints in the cowpies. The four-leggeds tend to be scrupulously clean, and birds, even snakes and bugs. It makes me glad for his family that he gives them healthy meat instead of poison meat. This is my real world, the people I know, the critters of my neighborhood. The sounds in the air I hear as music, not noise of a thousand mufflers, tire tread roar, rice rockets, Harleys. I'm getting awfully rural romantic and have no problem with it. I'll take the world of trees, a quiet life, interaction with the landscape I live in, living spirits in life forms. People in the city I find guarded, defensive, and sometimes a sinister edge. From individual to individual, it seems like in this time we are each one our own culture, even our own country. I like to be around other people one on one, not several at a time. This is my real world.