Life Happening

Somewhere a man clicks through rejections while assuring his family that things will be OK. He spends his time over coffee getting his unemployment done for another week and wonders when it will stop.

A woman steps off the curb and just misses the cracks below her feet. A blackbird stops chirping just as the garbage truck stops for another pick up. A child is pulled behind a fence slamming the gate into more silence.

We were told not to leave today or the next day or even the next week. We were told to shelter in place. We were told it was pandemic time. Time to sweep over the land where people die, or get sick, protest, or riot.

It is hard to breathe. My reflection is aging. I can’t swallow. I am white.

Johnny began screaming from his crib right at midnight. Linda had just finished the dishes and poured a glass of wine to unwind and look at the news to see what day it is. I went to him.

Pressures from the outside were closing in, becoming heavy. Simple daily tasks could count the steps into averages to squeeze just a little more time. There is an energy present that carries a lot of weight like depression.

Shame for being.

The spider’s web now spans across all of the rafters. Maybe a commune. A ship has slowly entered into view, having floated the first set of locks. Cabbage moths are the new enemy in this isolated state.

Unknown Days of Isolation

My place has been questioned and still remains with some degree of uncertainty. Quarantine. Economy. Conspiracy. Crash.., Freedom, Socialism.., Disease, Space…, Governance. Each of these words have meaning now. Some have split branches leading to new realities and thought; fear for many. How will they grow?

Quarantine began around the end of March, about the 22nd, I want to say. I had been too busy with routine to hear the apparent warnings leading up to this moment. It could be because I had refrained from watching the nightly news cycle for a while after being horribly sick during the month of January. I had quit smoking also and, ironically, was too preoccupied with coveting my health that I missed what was coming.

With little warning, work made announcements on a Thursday that we would not be coming into the office on Monday and to make sure our email had a response notifying people that we were out due to a Covid-19 outbreak. “What is that? How do you spell it? Just a dash one nine? What does ’19’ mean? Oh, it started in 2019 – so that’s a date stamp? Why are we just hearing about it now?”

People scrambled to get things pulled together to set up a home office. By Friday, announcements were flowing on a constant cycle of corporate info-planning and strategies rolling out a responsible response. Only technical assets that required lab and production cells to work would be allowed on premise. All others that could work remotely would work from home until further notice. It’s been almost three months now and I have not seen any of my colleagues.

Admittedly, the first week was a bit exciting, finally able to put to real use the office in the home we had just purchased six months earlier. The big dual monitors and docking station were in and things were ready to hum along business as usual. But it would be anything but usual. I over-think technology some times and certain things have been a challenge.

By the start of the second week, slow connection speed was rampant and the company had to make some adjustments to expand the VPN protocols to allow for the surge in new activity. Passwords were changing and things generally loped along with meetings being held via phone conferencing and WebX. “I can do this.” I told myself. It was a great distraction, if nothing else. Gadgets have a way of doing that in our lives.

After a couple of weeks, I began to quickly realize the magnitude of this thing and the unforeseen economic disaster that came crashing into the rocks of our foundation. 1,000 people, then 10,000, and 20,000 more – they kept popping up and then dying. Cruise ships became nightmares haunted by the sick and dying spirits of helplessness ordered to remain anchored in the bay. Old folk homes collapsed into the foul lost place where death made its rounds. Everyone was either sick or told to shelter in place. Suddenly, the essential workforce began roll call and uncertainty hung in the air as millions were swept away into unemployment. My home office became a battle ground of determination to understand the impacts and report back. I was lucky to be employed.

Almost a month in and I realize I haven’t showered but for a couple of times. A grizzly gray beard had taken hold. My routine developed from work in the office to work in the yard to the news. I started smoking again and that pulled me deeper into thought about what was happening.

About this time, my garden began to fall into place. I had been publishing a before and after photo album on my Facebook. The raised beds made from recycled pallets gave structure and form to the wild bamboo that was overgrown along with mountains of invasive grass. My pruning discovered pockets of sun throughout the green shoots and the pallet beds fit perfectly. This defined path ways and caused bunches of bamboo islands with lettuces, broccoli, beets, kale, cabbage, celery, onion, and other things to emerge and take root.

I decided this would be the Corona Memorial Garden and shoved about 2-3 cases of empty Corona beer bottles into the dirt and planted a large patch of strawberries (Hood, Benton, and Rainier). Large slate rocks were discovered in my excavation of the plot that became borders, like a wall to prevent pests from entering though I knew they would go under or over. All in all, a quiet respite from the latest presidential gaffs or death toll or economic ruin found me wandering there.

And then, we went to the next level.

As if a pandemic, economic collapse, and an insane king weren’t enough, our world erupted in protest with flesh pressed to the sky and screams for justice. Black Lives Matter. All Lives Matter. You matter. I matter. They matter. We matter. It matters. Set us free some chanted all the while standing in the government building shaking automatic weapons at the man. The irony.

I had expressed to my wife that the scariest thing for me was the uncontrolled mob mentality fueled with delusion and rage for justice. Saboteurs infiltrated while peace signs waved for solidarity and the chants became drowned out with the 24/7 news cycle of rioting and looting, buildings burn and all the while the division can be seen growing more vast every hour. Our devolution of our humanity and all of its entitlements in full display for the world and ourselves to take notice of.

The next day was full of meetings and a cosplay of practical business. It was surreal, the realization of the absurdity and white luck speaking as though we were still insulated from society; from truth trying to keep it together. I make it a point to personalize conversation at the end of our staff meetings – to allow myself to be slightly vulnerable so we don’t forget our humanity but carry some hope in our professional companionship where maybe things will find footing that fosters a friendly forward thinking foundation that does not falter but finds the fantastic in all people.

As it is, the white cabbage moths will return and the praying mantis can’t hatch quick enough. Fortunately, the ladybugs are keeping attacks at bay against the kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. Peppers are popping and squash is arcing over its borders with corn peeking up to remind me. We have our distractions and I know I have created one in our garden. But, my hope is that people don’t forget their masks and somehow people find their balance.

Things will never be the same again and I don’t want them to. I think, as is evident with all the footage of police brutality, that people – this society, has been running too hard for too long. The hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters must be careful where misinformation is being perpetuated into delirium where hate is the answer, the response to a loss of control.

Having to self isolate for so long and then to feel isolated from your people when sharp contrasts are made about some very deep issues only fans the hysteria and creates more stress and confusion. One of the most disturbing centerpieces is the ongoing harsh narcissism from our President who appears to be steeped in denial. As well, are his extreme followers that blindly shout from false news fed to them through a narrow pipeline of information.

I don’t know. I curse a lot more of late and have ripped debates apart on social media – to which I have gone back to apologize more than once. But the silver lining there is that I have come to remember conversations with my father who always talked about Jesus and agape love and forgiveness. That always stuck with me. I am not religious, but I value the basic tenants of the message of Christ – even if I don’t believe in the complete definition of his character. Religion has skewed the values of our spirituality, in my opinion.

My point is that love and kindness must be at the center – the focal point in order to heal so many. I fear for this fall and the election that looms in the backdrop of a second wave of this pandemic, which even as I write this continues to grow in cases and deaths. The US is by far the worst country in the world on every level in how it has dealt with the pandemic with nearly 150 K people dead and millions either hospitalized or diagnosed to remain isolated.

I think where love and kindness come is in deescalating our tragedy from what may be catastrophic (if we are not already at that precipice); but I believe our world can worsen still and likely beyond what we can even imagine. I also have hope and know that there is goodness in the world.

I keep pulling weeds and find myself pulling back. I am in love with my children and worry about them. I don’t want to go back to the office but need to remain as close to my family and friends as I can. I hope this November brings peace – though I have a feeling that we have already stepped onto the double-sided blade and so am continuing to love as much as I can and stay grounded and grateful gladly wearing that mask of business cosplay to help others get through the day and keep myself busy for as long as I can.

FALLEN

FIRST LINES

Ch 1:       Truth is sometimes meant to be forgotten

CH 2:      “How are you feeling? Do you remember anything?”

CH 3:      This room is sterile

CH 4:      “Why is the door locked? I am not a prisoner.”

CH 5:      Jack slumps onto the single mattress as Ruby locks the door

CH 6:      “Wake up, sir. I need to change you.”

CH 7:      No one looked when the outside world became a train wreck

CH 8:      Mary shoves her phone into her purse; disgusted and frustrated

CH 9:      Jack jerks up from the living room floor

CH 10:    A candle flame flickers on a pool of molten wax

CH 11:    Mold creeps slowly, silently, and unnoticed by most

CH 12:    The Dark Mother’s unrelenting jealousy drives hatred in all things

CH 13:    An orange chiffon pillow is soaked in sweat and saliva

CH 14:    Jack is pacing in circles

CH 15:    “I don’t want to go. What are you doing?”

CH 16:    A desert rave is hidden out beyond the lights of town where the travelers are

CH 17:    Diane sees the shadow of Landor change as she had seen in her dreams

CH 18:    There is comfort in a life lived free from expectations

CH 19:    A pink Caddie floats down an old back road where quaking aspens flicker in the last rays of the setting sun

CH 20:    “Where did Jack go?”

CH 21:    He emerges from a deep sleep like coming up from a dark cave

CH 22:    The others gather those that are hopelessly left behind

Vote Beyond Greed

Vote. It matters. Don’t let the words: “Let your voices be heard” become a cliché, an empty meaningless idea suited for another age. We might all be heading down the same well, but let us at least go down with some dignity. Let us have empathy that we are all in this together, that we are not a mere plutocracy, but an American people that value our history and each other in the present. I know this is ‘Idealism’, but I have heard it said, too often, that one side or the other will destroy us. In my view, while we might be tempted to reason the idea of unity, as if , therefore, the vote doesn’t matter, we still have a choice on how we want to take it. If anything, we will destroy ourselves when we put money above our humanity.

What we have seen for the past several years and longer in our country is a complex web of deceit. Maybe both parties are in on it? Maybe Putin really is (among others) the puppet masters that have let the American experiment run its course and they can claim rights on an ego bet? Either way, a divided country results only in chaos and no hope of breaking the invisible bonds of slavery. In our country, the United States of America, our imperfect system allowed for a criminal to take the reigns of power and dupe our closest friends and family members causing deeper division in our homes, work place, and society. This only leads to the power of a dictator who sways enough support to prop up against – not a majority. Whether part of a grand plan or not, it only works when we are divided.

Religion has become the whore of Babylon. False prophets with guilt and shame have manipulated the consciousness of the American people. It has been used as the go to tool to move humans in profound ways – including war and the killing of neighbors – essentially contradicting everything it is supposed to represent. But make no mistake, religion is NOT the same as spirituality. The religious pawns of our current administration whisper in the ears of vanity and prey on the stupid. A good sign of it is seen in the pulpit of the prolific lie. Our current President doesn’t even bother anymore and lies profusely on just about every topic – even trivial matters. Meanwhile, religion follows waving a banner of hypocrisy for its followers. What we have seen is a joint of messaging, whether spoken or condoned, where deep conspiracies are become normal and lies are pushed until they become truth.

Swept up with it all is Race, which has been transformed – nudged by greed to modernize with the times. Alongside race is poverty and economic inequality – each byproducts of a corrupt system where endless questions of what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right have given way to the blatant corruption that have gained power. The rhetoric ‘drain the swamp’ is a ploy. The idea of smaller government is only a convenient idea to cause division. Race is important not because we talk about it – but because it is one of the important consequences of our system which has relied on slavery. This was probably a natural migration of thought from a Feudal system and serfdom as a necessary requirement for an economic model of a new free country. Over time, we all became slaves as Capitalism evolved and civil rights and other social justice issues emerged and came into conversation. Unfortunately, it did not go away – just changed to enslave all people under the maturation of a system that cares more for monetary status than the common rights of a humanitarian system. Race gets lost in the mix as another contributing factor, which is why just enough has been done since the Civil Rights Movement to make it socially more palatable. Unfortunately, if you are a person of color, you know it is a deeply systemic issue and is embedded. This is where the powerful white man has taken us.

These issues are complex and deep seeded and I believe are to a great extent why why our politics have become so visceral, so polarizing. It is where the elite control and manipulate and is by design. However, within this field of disparity and party politics remains hope for decency. We are a pinnacle need for a cultural shift in terms of what we value. Money and wealth capital should not dictate decisions nor should it limit people from pursuing the best of themselves that contribute to society. I believe this is where some fundamental doses of socialism have value in that it raises the bar from the bottom which in turn strengthens our consumers if one were looking at it purely through the optics of capitalism. As one professor of Economics I know have described it, “A top down system doesn’t work because eventually wealth is consolidated and the consumer base is eroded and so, therefore, is not sustainable. A bottom up model is important for because it inherently protects and feeds the consumer that puts back into the system. It is reciprocal.”

As long as we must choose sides, as an Independent, I prefer a smarter fresh way of looking at our culture and the economic options that feed a different set of principles. Based on this paradigm, it does come back to our vote and the image we hold for our country and the ideals of our humanity.

There will be a…

There will be a time when your personal sense of safety will be challenged. Whether it be a catastrophic natural event or some perverse state of martial law where a military state takes hold, you need a plan designed for hope.

What is your electricity was suddenly shut off or water supply was contaminated? What if you went to the store for supplies only to find it heavily guarded and…

Slow Change

Slowly, there is change, morphing from the crusted earth that had grown into the body, fusing with every nerve like roots seeking water. The agony of this transformation lasts for one thousand seasons with images of another life haunting, dashing hopes with faint desire. I have been swallowed whole and left only with regret for a forgotten oath. I can feel the mourning of gnarled hands on foreign soil, stretched out across the landscape, as voices scream for justice. The screams, full of terror, have left something foul to rot and it is now seeping into my space. An ancient blood surges through my veins, forming flesh, forcing me into something I had not known before.