Henry Miller, Black Spring
That quote doesn’t perfectly describe my current sentiment but it comes pretty damn close. Sometimes you pull the six of diamonds and sometimes it’s the jack of hearts… then other times, you’re left burrowing in the bowels of the earth for light and water and if you ever catch yourself looking for a reason why, well then, I think you may have missed the underlying theme; hell, there’s not too much that makes sense right now so please try and keep up with me.
Here I am: saturated and fed up with talk and thoughts of progress, goals, ambitions, objectives, reports, research, results, manpower, horsepower, systems, analysis, improvements, governments, strikes, unions, revolutions, revelations and religions. How about a little laziness and romance, foolishness and mawkish revelry? How about we toss all the abandoned ambitions into the sea and wish them well on their long adventure back to nowhere? That includes heaven too – the silliest of all ambitions! If we haven’t found heaven yet, lets try emptying our guts and our guns as well as our pockets and purses. Quit praying and start practicing!
The prophets are long gone and the preachers, pastors and priests stumble all over themselves trying to put all the broken pieces back together. And I can hear the devil’s cackle a few thousand miles away… she’s a mighty fine chemist, that one! Try and forget where you’re at and who you’re with; wake up and scuttle around with no purpose; open all the windows; turn the music up; enjoy yourself; love everyone in sight – especially the bastards that make you grit your teeth cause dammit they are the ones that need it the most. We’re all weighed down like leaden bombs clicking and ticking and banging into one another until one of us blows up and the whole game is over. Rid yourself of all that weight and you’ll probably float back from where you came… back into the rain; back into the ether… back into the world of make believe… but don’t listen to me cause I don’t know anything; I’m just a blind grump frantically whistling a joyous tune and kicking an empty can through an unrecognizable, grit-laced alley… I just try and sing for the sake of the song.
It was this flame of restlessness that brought me to Africa. The feeling hasn’t gone anywhere and I don’t expect to shake it anytime soon. It’s a stubborn trait for sure. Honestly, I’ve been running away from everything, including myself, for a long time… frantically in pursuit of that essence I can never properly identify but often refer to as salvation or liberation or freedom… a unique Weltanschauung that I can justifiably call my own and perhaps, if I am lucky in the end, procure some rare spiritual or metaphysical reward or achieve some fraction of that elusive and relative contentment or love that we’re all presumably seeking. My naiveté has never known any bounds – I blame it on being perpetually coddled; always working to get to what I want. The trick perhaps is realizing that this whole game has never been about me. And it’s not about you either.
I’m not crazy or mad, but if I listen to myself for too long, I feel like I could certainly get there. I tread lightly but still find myself without proper ballast and in the middle of the storm. Do you know that feeling? You’re at the precipice of something outrageously magnificent or terrifyingly silly or both and you have no choice but to proceed. Reluctantly, I step – I tiptoe like a lumbering bull on a tightrope… I fall forward with arms outstretched like a child lost in the dark and I cannot discern in which direction I’m moving or whether I am actually moving at all. Some days, I feel like a happy fool! Most days, I’d prefer to be shoved from behind! Forward or backward makes no difference; up and down are irrelevant; easterly or westerly matter none; it is just the movement that makes the whole scenario unique and I have no choice but to partake. And the same goes for you as you sit there reading this rubbish… look around and listen… there should be a bird chirping somewhere… … a tree rattling… a thunder rumbling…. a hillside crumbling… someone sighing, someone dying, someone crying, someone falling in love, someone dropping a bomb… everything is going on while we keep our hands over our ears too afraid to listen! “Lebo in that dress!” will be the chorus and I’ll whistle the verse for you in a staccato Bantu rhythm. It doesn’t make any sense so I must be onto something. I think I’ll call the tune, “Tick Bite Fever.” I’m open to any and all suggestions, though. In fact, I welcome them. I welcome all and sundry.
I have to keep reminding myself that there is never an arrival. There is no place to go. There is no freedom to be achieved. Salvation is all around us… right under our collective nose and that is naturally and appropriately the hardest place for us to look. Christ summed it all up nicely: the kingdom of heaven is within you. That’s it! Wrap up what you’re doing, put down your pens, close the books, throw your feet up and bask in whatever comes along. I admit this does not come naturally – it takes hard work and a lot of it. Unfortunately, we’re just a little too busy with this and that and everything in between so we can never see the light or hear the word or stay away from that dirty ole’ Thunderbird. Someone says, “jump” and we don’t even ask how high or why; it’s easier to simply oblige. Keep jumping and we’ll see where we all end up. And where have we ended up? Some are in the gutter and some are in outer space; some are in the boardroom and some are in the barracks; some are suffering and some are sailing; some will inherit the earth and some will not. Ah, well, here is to evaporation, condensation, relaxation and inspiration. I’m in Africa. I still don’t know what it is exactly that I’m doing here, but I’m up with the sun every day. Tsatsi le letsatsi! I’m alive. And so are you. It can be so damn wonderful – even when we don’t like to admit it.
Right now, I’m doing my best to absorb whatever it is that is happening to me at any given moment. Still, I often find myself tangled in all the futile anticipations and anxieties… a quick shift of the mind and suddenly I’m in another world that is a muddy pastiche of not-so-distant memories, imaginary futures and outrageous fantasies... Cypress Avenue, Cherry Hill, Mission Valley, Fairmont, WV, New York City, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Myrtle Beach, Charlotte, NC, Pittsburgh, PA, Denver, CO, Alaska, Atlanta, Albany, Amsterdam, Ghanzi, Kanye, India, France, Saturn, Pluto, somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy, Dimension Eight or Twelve, heaven and hell – I’ve been everywhere… starting all over again with loves past and loves yet to come… old friends and new friends bounce in and out like viral pinballs and I laugh about all I’ve gained and all I’ve lost and how much or how little time may remain for me in this tiny sliver of space and time! A sudden shift and off I go again…
I’ve practically tangled myself in love with a goofy goddess sent direct from another dimension… my guess is Dimension Eight in a city full of roses and boxed wine… she tends to wounds that I never knew I had… I’d like to explain in more detail, but… sudden shift…
Ah, these worlds of mine are the funniest places… these private domains of the brain that I am drawn to when I am trying to escape the right now… trying to escape the only place that I can actually exist! Here is to pointless daydreams, eh? I’ve been a teacher, a farmer, a diplomat, a doctor, a writer, a painter, a father, a husband, a lover and a tramp, just to name of few. And I’ve been damn good at every one of them. None of these lives will ever exist as they exist in my head at any given moment, but they do exist nonetheless. At times, I allow myself to be bothered when my mind wonders into these foreign worlds and at other times I just let it go and try to enjoy the fantasy. Just watch it happen, I presume! If you can, stand still like the hummingbird…
You are rambling, Rapula! My apologies. Perhaps I should get to the business of life in Botswana? Perhaps next time. Just know this: I successfully completed training and I’ve arrived in Ghanzi to begin my two-year stint as a Peace Corps volunteer. I’m excited for everything new. I’m glowering a bit about moving so far away from my best friend... leaving a strange new muse that glides backward through the minds of all the poor poets… Whitman and Yeats had it too good anyway, I figure. Can someone send me some roses? A cage for my heart!? It may need locked up for a few weeks or months or centuries to prevent it from causing some real trouble! But anyway, all is well and working in the cosmos so I’ve no reason to complain… yet. A wave rising is bound to crash sometime. I’m on the rise! But I’ll let you know how it all shakes out.
If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me. With your help, I might actually be hitting my groove. So, I started with a quote and I’ll leave you with a little snippet courtesy of William Blake… and until next time, sala sentle!
He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.