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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A SEEKER'S DESTINY

kate shepherd


I must have come into this lifetime with something that put me at odds with the world of people I live among, wherever I live. I don't mean by any means I was a clairvoyant child, would that I were, though seeing what GM corporation did with my daddy, layoff every other year, union strikes, I made an agreement with self that I would never work for a corporation or government. Senior year in college, corporations sent representatives to set up at folding card tables to take applications and talk about the corporation. I saw the young guys in suits at the tables parasites, avoided them like I avoid bears. I liked that the small Southern school lacked sports emphasis and the science department was too basic to attract government money. The school did not depend on government control, though was willing and would have, nor did it depend on sports arenas. No jock gangs on campus, the privileged guys exempt from study or attending class, given passing grades for raping the girls and terrorizing nerds. Good at playing with a ball. The school had no prestige, which made me like it all the more. I'm seeing in my nature my destiny in action all the way along. Today, it is my philosophy I live by to have no status and want no status. At the college thirtieth reunion I saw as clearly as on a graph that I'm a success. I have no status. Lawyers, judges, doctors and their dressed-up wives. I was a hillbilly house painter with a hillbilly accent, gone native. 

kate shepherd


A childhood recollection surfaces, when I realized it to be true what I'd heard in movies, heard in church, from my grandmother, when you have money, you don't know who your friends are. It's the money they're drawn to. The fake friends are more convincing than the real friends. The real friends turn up when you're down and out. This is perhaps the beginning, or an affirmation of what was already within. Or maybe came from taking something seriously in church I wasn't old enough to know I'm expected to ignore. The reasoning rang the bell of truth such that I decided pre-ten never to pursue money. I went to college wanting education. The people around me were there for vocational school, the degree essential for a good-paying job. A year after school, I ran into someone from my Shakespeare class. In our brief conversation, I mentioned something about Shakespeare, him being our connection. She said, "I forgot everything about Shakespeare when I turned in the final exam." My inner balloon went flat. Our conversation was over. I didn't know what to say and she didn't either. All I could think was, what a waste. Unable to say it, I couldn't think of anything else. I saw her indifference the equivalent of saving to buy a Robert Rauschenberg print and throwing it away when it arrived in the mail. 

kate shepherd

One thing I suspect had strong influence was the emphasis in church on being in the world, not of it. I had no idea what it meant. It became something like a Zen koan trying to figure out what is the world and what is not. The obvious for the world would be Las Vegas, vice city. But that's kind of limited. Over years and years of considering the question, I came to see, eventually, that the church, itself, was the world, as much as a bar is the world, though the earth, the globe was not. I came to see the world aspects of the human mind. To be in the world, in mind, not of it, not identifying mind as self. Use mind, guide it to work for me instead of against me, the guide being my true self that directs mind by deeper self's attitude toward life. Having run through the major part of the life, I've come to allowing mind, using mind, valuing mind, without mind identifying who I am. Identifying self with mind, knowledge, beliefs, what have you, is equal to identifying self with money or new car smell. Mind is one of many aspects of self, a tool. A young dog checking out a snake is more cautious the second time.  I lost interest in paying taxes when I learned that two-thirds of American tax dollars go to military to kill, impoverish and afflict with misery the people of poor, defenseless countries, Vietnam then, destabilize defenseless countries, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Latin America, and around the globe. American boots-on-the-ground are marching into Africa now, quicksand to American military. Remember Mogadishu. They want endless war. They've found it. The largest continent on earth full of poor people.  


kate shepherd

In my early years of working, I learned that when I earn below a certain amount, I pay no or very little taxes. Some people like to go to prison for not paying taxes. I decided to do it the legal way, learn to live well with a poverty income. This way, I'm not complicit in the American military's spread of misery. I pay state and local tax with sales tax. I like to pay taxes when the money goes to the needs of the community or the country. I could not sanction paying with my labor to support my government's passion for killing the poor. I am one with the American people, at odds with the corporate takeover of my country's government and the racist police state that pushed out democracy when the Patriot Act nullified the constitution. What can I do? Complain? Write to a republican congressman? I chose to live in poverty, live empathetic with the poor, at once curious what it was about the poor that made God so partial to them. I prefer the ground to climbing the ladder to money and status. I prefer friends whose loyalty I have no occasion to question. It's not that I look forward to a pink Cadillac convertible in heaven for being good. I can't change any of it. If I'm aggravated all the time, I develop stomach cancer from everything eating at my guts. I choose nonparticipation in my government's war crimes. I'm happy to be one of the American people, so I live among people already suspicious of the law from their own experience. I can say with heartfelt meaning, God bless America, meaning help us get through this transition from Capitalist fascism to whatever is next peaceably, gently as possible.


kate shepherd



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