Tuesday, September 11, 2007


six years and how's the healing coming along? for me, whenever it comes to mind all of the sinister connections come with it. i guess that's my bait. any minor annoyance like being cut off in traffic or stubbing my toe can bring on dark moods; but the deeply layered implications, the gordian knot of historical complications, and the whole drama of the underdog against the bully really push my buttons. for a long time i defined myself as a fighter for truth and justice, if not the american way. i ranted against the establishment and bemoaned the folly of retaliation. it was a lot of bark with no bite. the trap is to get all wrapped up in the conflict and let it take my time, drain my energy, and eclipse my days. certainly, there is a process that transforms the toxic goo of everything that i don't want and yet cannot stuff down. it's like heartburn. i can take a tums to fix it or i can stop eating spicy food.

i was numb when the bizzarro movie madness happened six years ago. all of the violent hollywood images i'd seen could not have prepared me for that reality tv. my own feelings were so muddled, i could understand the diversity of reactions. i have to say that despite my shock and horror, i was not all that suprised. the targets of the pentagon and the world trade center are so powerful because they are so symbolic. not only were the twin towers of world banking leveled to the ground; the home of army intelligence was crushed. none of this really affected the ability of the u.s. government to carry on as before; yet the ideas are inescapable.

this was perhaps the worst single day in our country's history, and certainly for those who lost loved ones; but it's not much compared to the suffering of other cultures and people that have been caused by americans. was it just a coincidence that exactly 28 years before, the CIA helped to overthrow the democratic government of chile? i've seen film footage of the planes bombing the capital city and it was even more disturbing than the continuous loop of the twin towers coming down. the bombing of hiroshima and nagasaki completely destroyed those civilian populations. and the massacre of the native people of the americas since 1492 is just mindboggling. i guess that i'm saying we don't know how good we have it and we don't seem to understand our history.

and yet, as the song goes, "your history acts as your gravity". it brings us down. we can learn from it; but it can hamstring us as well. at some point we need to get rid of the albatross and save ourselves from going under. according to a native american parable, there is a battle within each of us between two wolves. one represents our positive and creative impulses and the other our self destructive and negative urges. whichever wolf we feed is the one that will prosper. whatever spirit we fan will ignite. wherever we focus our energy is where we will find ourselves when we are depleted.

i have found that the heavy hearted swamp that is fed by my dark thoughts and self righteous indignation at the state of the world can only be drained with an a conscious decision to think differently. i need to fill the space up with something else or the morass will creep back. it's a daily struggle. i have come to the point where i cannot watch the news any more. i can't take all of that dark matter on me and still be the father and husband i need to be.

when the shooting incident took place at virginia tech, i was unable to avoid the impact. since it happened in our backyard, there was no escape. it was really wild to see the national news folks all flocking to blacksburg. there seemed to be a major difference between national and local news coverage. the tendency was for the national outlets to try and find someone to blame while the local news was focused on healing.

it was just like the aftermath of hurricane katrina and every other major tragedy. we (i) tend to feed the dark angry beast and let the hope and positivity starve. the circus bread will not nourish us (me). sweeping it under the rug with soma will not heal. like ouroboros, we (i) eat a soylant green that is bringing on a silent spring. the toxic shame feeds on itself and the result is a barren wasteland.

yet all is not lost. the soil that results from volcanic eruptions is some of the richest in the world. out of the ashes of such fiery destruction comes a fertile phoenix that sustains all manner of life. of course, it doesn't happen instantaneously. everything has to cool down. after the shock and horror, the questioning, the blaming, and the tears comes the sure realization that life goes on. it is one of the great mysteries of life: out of heartbreak and tragedy can grow some of the strongest and most beautiful expressions of love and courage. it's all just a matter of patience and persistance. with ourselves and each other. forgiveness isn't for the other person; it's for us. when we let go, we set ourselves free.

photo from: delong.typepad.com/sdj/grand_strategy/index.html
painting from: www.quixote.org/nca/paintings/graphics/pa/P111.jpg

Saturday, September 08, 2007

don't fence me in

i am of two minds when it comes to fences; and that ambivalence had me wringing my hands over the decision to put a fence in our backyard. hesitation and procrastination kept me from making any decision at all; until it was effectively made for me.

my objections consisted of the utopian sense of the land as a common treasury for all too share. certainly, a fence mars the natural beauty of any landscape with its obnoxious obviousness. as the old song goes, what gives anyone the right to keep people out or to keep mother nature in? there is something within us all that doesn't love a wall.

on the other side, there have been stray dogs that have ventured through our block and one neighbor saw a bear; so the idea of keeping strange animals out was a major factor. being able to let our little girl shuggie and our dog moosey brown run free in the back yard was another. i was fatigued with following shuggie around and keeping her from venturing into one of the yards next door. moosey brown had to be tied up to a tree and would bark constantly if she didn't see us. we had a fence at the place we had lived before, and there was no such poochie paranoia; so we knew it would be better for her to roam with relative freedom within a fenced yard. walking the dog two or three times a day was a real hassle as well with baby in tow.

i was sitting on the fence about getting a fence; all the while trying to balance my needs for security and freedom. as someone who enjoys shortcuts, scenic routes, and roads less travelled; i've done my share of jumping fences in my travels, and have had enough bruises, ripped jackets, and tear gas for my taste. a world without fences seemed like a better one to me; and i couldn't help thinking we would be spoiling the scenery for the sake of convenience.

the whole process was a bit surreal. of the four fence companies in our area, only one appealed to us. to be honest, he reminded me of my dad who used to run his own business; and he was very responsive to our concerns. another came out and measured the yard and sent us a several estimates for types of fence that we did not want and not one for the type we did. one company didn't do chain link. and still another salesmen was too busy to even come and give us an estimate.

we talked about sending a note to all of our neighbors (we have six contiguous neighbors though only five are affected directly) to give them a heads up; but the fence folks came two weeks early. then we had to double check the property line when the crew went closer than we had agreed. it would have been a ridiculous waste of time to have to pull up the cemented fence poles and move them a foot over.

drawing boundries taps into a primal place. of course, a fence is all about control; whether it's in my back yard, berlin, or the northern chinese border. and yet, the security that comes from such measures is intertwined with fear. this kind of territoriality is reflected in the way moosey brown will chase squirrels out of the yard.

still, that doesn't mean a low fence can't be amiable. "good fences" can "make good neighbors" by making sure we don't transgress that invisible line in the grass. there is a comfort in the structure of it.

now that it's complete, i'm still not sure how our new chain link will affect the already awkward conversations that often comprise neigborhood relations. it has certainly made my homelife much easier. moosey brown gets a lot more exercise as she chases squirrels, cats, and bunnies around the yard; and so does shuggie as she chases the dog. moosey and buddy (the big black dog next door) have been sniffing and socializing through the fence like star crossed lovers. now when shuggie decides to take off high stepping across the yard, i don't have to jump up and go running after her. the only trouble is that we have to keep the gates locked; because both dog and daughter have figured out how to open them. i guess that the sense of security is temporary indeed.