I’ll be revisiting old friendships this weekend — high school friends, some of whom I haven’t seen or spoken to in decades. How might I best characterize myself for them? By what terms might I achieve peace with these brethren, unburdened of unspoken rivalries? In the past, I may have been wounded and wronged by these friends, just as I may have wounded and wronged them in return. Yet as Laura Archera Huxley counsels in her book You Are Not The Target, “each one of us has a function to fulfill. It is when we spend our time and energy looking down in contempt or looking up with sterile longing that we lose sight of this function. Envy is comparison. He who is in the continuous process of being and becoming what he really is, directs his attention to real values, not to measuring other people’s achievements” (240). What I’m suffering is what Ralph McTell calls the “Zimmerman Blues.”
I traveled far from home, lost touch, saddled myself with unrepayable debt — but amid this impoverished wandering, I followed my heart, I found my partner, I learned how to love. Freedom outside in the sun of the prison yard. The country is not one where each person owns or gets enough on which to live. The fault for that lies with the country, not me. Were it otherwise, each could attend to the beauty and the glory of the earth. In the meantime, I break away as much as I can from “compulsions, ambitions, hates, vanities, envies”; I try to conduct myself day by day as a whole being.
Heads need to spend more time exploring being “out of tune” together. We can begin by playing for one another Harry Partch’s Delusion of the Fury.
When one is in one’s right mind, one can hardly move a mouse. One no longer vibrates in a register discernible to laptop mouse-pads or cellphone touchscreens. From the cellphone’s perspective, it is as if one has ceased to exist. In celebration of my birthday yesterday, friends and I drove to a forested grove to chat about Dario Argento films and wild mushrooms. We hiked some trails and plunged into a pool of icy water at the base of a rock formation smoothed into the shape of a waterslide. A group of women in line ahead of me slid down the face of the rock in their burkinis, their voices filled with joy. On the whole, a great day, warm and sunny — though on the drive home, as we entertained ourselves by reading aloud for one another in its entirety a young adult novel called Just Too Cool
, I began to worry that I’d caught a cold (a condition confirmed in the hours since; hence the relative brevity of today’s trance-script). In general, I’m feeling a shortness of labor-power and labor-time. Events move so quickly these days. The waves: everything bounces, time dissipates or contracts. I feel like an observer along a path watching a stagecoach held at gunpoint. Seagulls, water slapping a retaining wall. I lean against a chilled metal railing, and stare across a bay. Are there ways we can recharge the batteries that run the brains within our domes? Heavy headphones, binaural beats, meditation tapes. Laura Archera Huxley reassures me, palms pointed earthward, “You are dirt poor. You are seeking knowledge of how a person should be. You are not the target.” The startling discovery of adulthood, and the guiding principle of my pedagogy (though one I often struggle with in practice): “Making others
feel better generally makes us
feel better.” Well, it’s at least a nice idea, says a wrinkled, toothless granny. When one’s body is unwell, what can one expect of one’s mind?