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

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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.

 

Sterility

I realized something was wrong with the way I think when a woman at the Sabido vigil was nearly in tears, lamenting that she has been working too hard in her graduate school studies and has not been helping other people or spending enough time with Rosa, the Mexican national who had been living in sanctuary as an ICE fugitive at a Methodist church for 600 days.

She used to devote herself to helping others, she said, but apparently had lapsed in her ways.

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Everyone is a little broken.

I couldn’t understand why this young woman was so upset with herself. I typically don’t care about anyone but me. I don’t know if that is a side effect of being a reporter and feeling like I am not allowed to participate in the community that I am covering, or that journalism is the only form of community service I was allowed to perform. Or living alone and only thinking about making enough food for myself, providing for myself, playing video games when I want, rarely if ever thinking about calling a friend or being around other humans in my free time. I can do everything myself. Except be happy.

Eknath Easwaran says that’s the wrong way to live and I believe him. He writes:

I am told that people now want to be loners and live by themselves. If you ask why, they will say it is more convenient; they can do what they want, when they want, in the way they want. When they shuffle in the door from work, tired and edgy, they don’t need to concern themselves with squabbling children; they can kick off their shoes and drop their clothes anywhere. … All this is called freedom. I call it sterility and the surest road to making ourselves more separate and self-willed.

Ouch, man. That’s exactly how I live — in sterility — and it will take time to change that behavior and outlook on life. How can I unlearn my habit of being self-willed and understand that it is in giving that we receive, it is in loving that we are loved if I am always alone?

I’m reminded of a Desmond Tutu quote: “A person is a person through other persons; you can’t be human in isolation; you are human only in relationships.”

When I stay in my apartment with video games and marijuana and darkness and isolation, I feel less and less humanlike, more robotic as I interface with screens all day.


A toxic thought crept into my mind when I was out for a walk a few weeks ago. My brain pondered the concept of making a friend. Of meeting a like minded man or woman and spending time together, maybe invite them over to my apartment to do… what? Hang out and watch TV? Talk? What do people do?

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Everything changes.

I immediately thought that that was the stupidest idea I’ve ever had. How weird that would be, to make a friend and spend time together. Then my brain told me that it was exceedingly weird to think that making a friend is exceedingly weird.

At least I’m checking those thoughts and recognizing that I need to change. That’s the first step in this process, I think.