Joy

This human reality will never please me, and that’s OK. I find joy in my own way.

When I’m at work scrubbing pots and see a cricket jump in the corner of the floor drain, trying to find sanctuary, I immediately pause my work. I squat down and extend my finger, an olive branch. I do this with spiders, moths, beetles and whatever other tiny being appears to be in distress when I’m cleaning.

Sometimes I think about how they perceive a human finger. Do they know it is attached to a human? Do they know what a human is? Do they know they are inside a building with fluorescent lights? Have they ever seen the sun? Are they terrified? How do they perceive the rushing water and wind from the high pressure hose? Do they want to be in another place? Do they want to be extracted from this situation? As a level six ethical vegan, I follow the philosophy of non-interference in the affairs of non-human animals and all other sentient beings, unless there is immediate suffering that I can prevent without shifting the balance of nature and affecting the timelines. In this case, I believe there is cause for intervention.

So I extend my index finger and the gray moth lying belly up on the floor suddenly comes to life. Her tiny legs cling to me. I smile and suddenly forget about how much I hate my boss. There are more important things in life. I stand up and pull my fingers into a loose fist, with the moth sitting on top of my knuckle. She opens her wings to shake off the water. I whisper to the moth and assure her that she is going to be OK. I walk around the drying racks and pull the rolling garage door over my head with my other hand. Cold, dry air and natural light fill the soil room. I breathe in the desert morning then place the moth on some sagebrush and feel a simple joy from reducing the suffering of one little, tiny being.

In a world of wanton cruelty, I see this as an act of rebellion. And I’m a soul rebel.

———

I feel a similar sense of joy when I go for a walk at the nature preserve and see a glimpse into the simple, private lives of chipmunks and geese.

Watching a chipmunk wag his bushy little tail and play with a piece of long grass that glows gold in the morning light gives me so much pleasure. What worries the chipmunk? Does he think constantly of imminent attacks from hawks? Or does he play carefree with his friends and jump between boulders during the warm daylight hours, then retreat to his hole at night to cuddle with his family during the freezing nights? Does he think about the exploitation of labor? Does he think about how much he has to save up to buy a house?

I always hear the geese before seeing them. Their honking carries across the rocky terrain. The flying “V” is broken into two distinct pieces, with the leading group working in perfect coordination to reduce wind resistance for those behind. I always feel like waving my hat in the air or saluting these magnificent animals, like they are a highly decorated air force squadron returning victorious from war, but instead I just watch and listen. They fly over my head and I hear the delicate squeak they make when breathing during vigorous flight. I’ve never noticed that before.

As they fly into the distance, the flock becomes fluid. The geese are no longer individuals, just black dots against a clear blue sky. The dots dance and their shape morphs constantly. The flying “V” ebbs and flows like the tide.

I thank the animals for showing me the simple joy of living.

Prickly

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I used to come here when I was young

About a year-and-a-half ago

I had just quit my career and would sit on these rocks and listen to a podcast about depression

I felt like the broken glass next to the prickly desert cacti matched my demeanor

cacti

Now I’ve stumbled upon this little alcove and I remember what I was feeling back then

I was so lost and confused and angry

That hasn’t changed

But now I’m more comfortable with chaos and uncertainty

The seven seas don’t scare me as this boat continues to drift unmoored

Yet returning here, I feel older and I feel more disconnected

I feel more strongly than ever that I don’t understand anyone and that no one understands me

Putting the broken glass back together would be impossible

close

Alienated

What’s your five-year plan?

I laughed and told her I don’t have a five-year plan or any sort of plan and I think that’s when she decided it wasn’t going to work out between us.

Life is a lie so what’s the point in having a five-year plan anyway?

There’s also a good chance that we, collectively, don’t have many years left.

About the lie though. I spent my formative years in an insulated levittown, nestled comfortably between the man-made lake in my backyard and pothole-free streets and the metro bus stop that goes straight to The Pentagon. But it was all a lie. Like I was living in the cave and the entire system did everything in its power to prevent me from investigating the shadows cast on the wall.

They didn’t want me to know about poverty and hopelessness and how many people have seven DUIs and how many people leave their dogs chained up outside year-round. I never saw exploitation and wage theft and I never really understood what it means for a white man to own the fucking means of production and what it means for his children and their children.

Everyone goes to college, you have a bright future, the world is your oyster. You gotta get good grades and score well on the SAT and get a degree so you can get a good job and afford to have kids and own a home and get married. Shut the fuck up. Just fucking stop with the bullshit. This world is garbage and capitalism has rendered life meaningless. I have developed immunities to your capitalist propaganda and highly-effective forms of American brainwashing. That shit doesn’t work on me. I live firmly outside of your fucking cave.

Regardless, there is no point so I don’t have any interest in thinking about a five-year plan and when she asks me questions about my likes and dislikes I squirm and contort my face because I do not have strong connection to The Self and I feel detached from this world and Buddhism teaches that its not good to have likes and dislikes and I’m always stoned anyways which increases my indecisiveness.

I just feel alienated. Marx was right.

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Within a society that operates in the capitalist mode of production, there is no point to life for the wage slaves, who make up the bulk of society. We have no agency in our lives.

No point in making friends; falling in love. We cannot afford to buy homes. An unforeseen illness can plunder an entire life of saving in this fucking gilded oligarchy.

Yet we keep our eyes aimed on each other — we fight amongst ourselves because we have been trained to believe that capitalism is a zero-sum game and that the government is the enemy. We are bootlickers. We hold grudges against our brothers and our sisters and fight over tip money but never raise our eyes above the cave walls, where Mr. Capitalist hoards his wealth and reaps the benefits of paying his wage slaves the bare fucking minimum required by the laws his friends wrote.

I do not feel a connection to any specific group of people. Some people care about their hometown football team or religion or their gender or skin color or hobby or whatever. I don’t feel a connection to anyone. No one understands me and whenever I talk about capitalism they call me crazy. When I say Americans are brainwashed they tell me I am brainwashed. I feel no connection to white people in America, who have benefited immensely from the long history in this country of genocide, slavery and capitalism yet today seem to believe that we exist in a vacuum. I mean, Jesus Fucking Christ, there are actual Nazis. Furthermore, there is no geographic boundary to which I call home or feel a significant connection.

I really just want one thing.

I want to tear down the capitalist mode of production and fight for the liberation of all humans and non-human animals.

I’m coming for you, Mr. Capitalist.

Geocentric

Why do the butterflies dance in front of me?

Why does the wind whisper in my ear?

Why do the ravens fly over my head?

Why do the rocks support me?

Why does the sun beat down on me?

Why does the moon protect me?

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Skewed.

They don’t do it for me.

It’s just part of their nature.

We make believe we are at the center of it all.

 

The Hatred

I fear that I will never overcome my pure hatred for the humans.

I wake an hour before dawn and walk ten blocks to my nature spot where Eleventh Street turns to dirt. Sage brush, cacti and spindly trees overlooking a small red rock canyon greet me along with a family of deer who just stare at me as I do a shoulder stand, a back bend and warrior poses on a large, flat rock. I sit down to try to meditate as the blues and purples turn to deep red.

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Usually peaceful.

But my mind cannot stop thinking about that fucking asshole who was running his pickup in his driveway when it’s not even fucking cold outside. Three more assholes were heating up their cars on my walk back home. What is wrong with people? I could hear the overwhelming whirr of the engine from the shitty old truck two blocks away and as I walked past I could smell the gas fumes. It’s not even cold outside why must you heat up your car and disturb this peace and poison the world?

Meditation tells me to be filled with love instead of hatred, hope instead of despair, light instead of darkness, with the goal of realizing that a unifying spirit courses through all beings, rocks, plants, birds, dirt and water.

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Life.

But these humans don’t give a fuck about any of that. They are all fat. They don’t care for their own bodies. They are overweight and unhealthy yet when I walk through the grocery store and stand at the checkout line they purchase soda, candy, cigarettes, meat, cow’s milk and they walk out with a sugary bullshit Starbucks drink in their gross fucking paws. Then they get in their massive F-150 that costs more than their manufactured home and they don’t feel like using their turn signal today.

They act against the interests of their own bodies and don’t even think about acting in the best interest of the fucking planet they live on. They are the 42.3 percent of Americans who support Trump and live in a post-truth society. They like him because he is an asshole just like them and because a black man used to be the president. The planet is here for ours to take, they think. It’s was all made for us to harvest and benefit from and we don’t consider that maybe these are limited resources. And it’s really too bad we can’t own slaves anymore. A shame, really. Also fuck our grandchildren and the planet they will inherit.

Wow. Ok, buddy. But what about on Monday morning when there were no assholes.

There was a quiet man with a gray beard wearing a blue flannel jacket with the hood pulled over his bald head walking with loyal, aging black dog. We knows the secret of sunrise, the mysteries of time. We said good morning as we passed, walking on the street without sidewalks in a broken town, and on the way back we gave each other that nod that all men know.

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Let it flow.

Then I watched the sunrise and did my asanas and everything was fine. I felt refreshed and poetry came to me.

Why do they show me the assholes some mornings and the nice people on other days?

When there are assholes, the deer do not greet me. Maybe they could sense my emotions and decided to avoid me on this morning.