Independence?

Independence is the story
That ruined reality
The lie or myth
That led to…
Where we are not.
It looks good
On paper
Or sounds good if
You say it out loud…
Independence
But if you whisper quietly
And let the truth
Reverberate
It is really just
A synonym
For
ALONE

Interdependence is a different story
A shattered illusion
Reconstructed
As a new truth
That shows the way
to somewhere else.
It looks complicated
On paper
And sounds confusing
If you say it out loud…
Interdependence
But if you whisper quietly
And let the meaning
Sink in
It is really just
A synonym
For
TOGETHER

Easter 2019

Easter 2019

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon has already cut loose from the falconer
Things are broken
There is no center to hold
The spiral now widens to consume the whole…

A sanctuary violated by greed
The bearded prophet captured by brutal authority
Dragged forward from the darkness
To face the bright light…

The war rages on
Profits pile up
Countless innocents fall victim to unspeakable horrors
Collateral damage, collateral damage
Yemen and Libya, Syria and Afghanistan…
Free market rules everything
And the freeeeest market is war
Lots of it, more and more.

Turning and turning, spinning and spinning
Whirlpool, tornado, cyclone, black hole….
Where is the bottom, I don’t know,
Down, down, down we go…
Progress progresses
Civilization conquers, consumes and dominates
But nature resists, fights back… retaliates
The monsters will come as storms and floods and quakes

Will the humans awake?
Correct the errant ship of state?
And choose a different world to live in?
Give birth to another terrible beauty?
Or is it too late?
Must we accept our fate?
And stumble blindly
Into
Oblivion…

Reality Confronts the Taxman

Call me coyote, I am a fictional character. I am not real. I am fake news. Do not believe me when I tell you about the revolution. It is an imaginary revolution, it is not real…

To pay or not to pay, that is the question; whether it’s nobler in the mind to submit to the demands of authority and feed its power with compliance or stand up to that power with the exercise of free will and thereby risk being destroyed and ruined by that power?

There are two fundamental ethical arguments in favor of the payment of taxes. The first reason to pay taxes is the capitalist reason. It is the contractual notion of fee for service. In this regard, we have a theoretical moral or ethical obligation to pay the government for the services it provides us. If we want the government to fix and clean our roads, set up medical services and emergency rescue services and schools, and educate our children and do a million other things, then we have to pay them “money” for the services they provide us. Theoretically, we as citizens agree to pay taxes because that is one of the mechanisms the government uses to collect the fees for the various services it provides. Of course, within the context of the capitalist metaphor and the rationally competitive consumer, it is the goal of each and every competitor in the system to acquire the most possible services for the lowest possible price. And, of course, it is the goal of the system to provide the fewest possible services to each customer for the highest possible price. The two sides compete with each other in the never ending game of negotiation and the end result is our very complicated tax collection system and federal spending programs.

The second reason to pay taxes is the socialist one: from each according to his ability, for each according to his need. Taxes are a manifestation of our moral/ethical obligation as citizens to contribute to the community/government/state that we belong to. Paying taxes is the primary mechanism by which we participate in government. It is our expression of loyalty to the central authority and our explicit recognition of the governments legitimacy. We pay taxes because it is our duty as citizens to contribute to the well being of the nation state in which we live. Of course, within the context of the socialist metaphor, your ethical obligation to contribute to society translates into a legal requirement. In other words, if you don’t pay your taxes (support the government) you will go to jail. Continue reading

Volcanic Eruptions

Hummingbird continues…

It’s true… We made a marijuana offering to a volcano God and that volcano erupted a few years later. Cause and effect? Maybe… The basic facts are indisputable. I hiked to the top of one of Ecuador’s many semi-active volcanos in the early Spring of 1993. I was joined in the endeavor by a young Canadian man. The day before the hike, we acquired some weed and a chicken bone pipe from a local campesino teenager. When we secured our permit for the trek, we were informed that the volcano was semi-active and could theoretically erupt at any moment. We had to sign a liability waiver in order to get the permit. It took us two days to reach the top. Up near the peak, there were cracks in the surface and volcanic steam rose up from the cracks and kind of floated in the air. The rising smoke against the backdrop of bright blue sky was rather impressive. It looked like the mountain was smoking something. So right up there near the tippy top, we found a comfy spot next to a spout of steam and joined the volcano in a smoke. We packed our chicken bone pipe full with weed and blew our clouds of smoke into the steam rising from the crack. How funny? How amazing? We were bonding with the volcano…. Yo Dude. Don’t you think we should make an offering? What do you mean? What kind of an offering? An offering to the volcano monster so he doesn’t erupt and consume us with lava and fire? That’s a good idea; let’s give him some weed. The Canadian guy opened up our satchel and retrieved a pinch of weed between his fingers. He offered the bag to me so I could get a pinch as well. He went first. “Here you go Mr. Volcano, enjoy the show, but try not to blow, at least not for a while. Wait until we are far away from here.” He sprinkled his weed into the steaming crack of rock. I went next. “Señor Tungarahua, my friend. Thank you so much for letting us reach your peak. I do believe I hear you grumbling. Are you getting ready to explode? Try a little tranquilo. Perhaps this offering will help you relax.” I sprinkled my weed into the steaming crack…

Of course the volcano did not erupt on us. We enjoyed our view from the top and hiked back down to the town of Banos where we soaked in the hot springs. A few years later though, 1998 I think, Tungarahua did erupt, big time… it blew it’s fricken top off. Some people were killed and there was lots of damage in surrounding villages and even in the town of Banos. I went back to Banos in early 2000 and the volcano was still sort of erupting. There were boiling, bubbling, overflowing pools of lava near the top. Obviously, tourists were no longer allowed to hike it. But several guesthouses had jeep tours to hot lava viewing spots at night. I went along on one of the tours. Lots of young drunk backpackers in crowded jeeps converged on a plateau just across the way from the volcano. It was a serious party with drinking, dancing, smoking and the popping of magic pills. I stepped away from the scene by the vehicles to get a better view from the darkness. I remembered my offering from seven years before. The cone was now gone. The place where we sat and smoked our pipes and made our offering no longer existed. It was now a steaming hot cauldron of bubbling lava. Or, at least, that is what it seemed from a safe distance. All I could really see was smoke and steam and dust rising from the center and dripping red streams spilling over the sides.

Smoldering… erupting… smoking… grumbling… steaming… glowing. Believe it or not, this was not my first ever experience with weed offerings and volcanoes. In Costa Rica, in November of 1992, I went to visit the active volcano of Arenal. It was the day after I got the results from my blood test. I brought my tent and sleeping bag and camped out at the base of the mountain. I now knew that I didn’t have malaria but I was still having the crazy malarial dreams. The erupting volcano added real-time sound effects to my nightmares… Perhaps camping next to an active volcano was not such a good idea… Continue reading

Finding the Pools of Paradise…

 

 

 

Hummingbird flashes forward…

So we got the boot from Buddha Hill and now we live back in town. Somewhat ironically, the reason given for our expedited departure was a taxation complication. Nothing we did personally. Just a minor karmic kick in the butt. Ha ha ha ha. So we had to move. The wheel of destiny spun, the door opened, and another opportunity presented itself. My friend coyote complained because our new digs require us to be the legal “owners” of the premises and he was against the whole property ownership angle. I tried to explain that ownership is an illusion but possession of a home is important. The rent we pay to the imperial masters for the right to live here is called a “mortgage” rather than “rent” but it is really the same process. No reason not to use the legal technique of “ownership” in order to take possession of an amazingly beautiful place to live as long as we don’t take on the religious baggage of dominion that goes along with the whole ownership metaphor. Coyote told me I was full of shit and went to squat in some empty Catskill vacation home he knows about. You can’t fault the guy for his principles… even if he is stubborn. No matter, we are going to meet up once a week at the cafe’ to discuss our literary project and we may even work together on a few stone projects this season too…

My version of the story left off in the Fall of 1992 when I thought I had malaria in Central America and I was having those crazy apocalypse dreams. I actually remember the one dream quite well because I had it probably fifty times in the following three year period. I even have it every once in a great while in the present if I eat too much peanut butter before bed. I call it the Highway of Death dream. Sometimes it begins in the travel clinic and goes forward to the scene on the highway and sometimes it begins on the highway itself when my truck catches fire. The scary stuff happens after the seat belt finally bursts open and I leap out of the car and run down the highway. But all that is crazy… very crazy. Indeed, the whole story of the dreams might be described as a metaphorical journey into a world of madness. It is very relevant to the overall plot of how I transformed from a lawyer into a stone mason because the dreams finally ended when I started doing stonework. Totally exhausted physically and spiritually from a day of handling rocks, I collapsed satisfied in bed each night to blissful dreamless sleep… No, no no… I don’t want to remember those long ago forgotten night time torments…

So let me tell you about the seven pools of paradise instead… I discovered them recently in my own backyard… Well, okay, it is not exactly in my own backyard but I can walk there in less than 15 minutes from our new home. It is so amazing I sometimes think it is my imagination. How did I ever get to be so lucky?

We moved into the new home in August. It is, perhaps, a bit on the small side compared to the luxury of Buddha Hill, but in the very important reality of ecological footprint it is an order of magnitude better and that simple fact provides big relief to my soul… Although we are located in town, I call the new place the Forest House because we are on a street called Forest and the vacant lot next door to us has lots of trees and vegetation. The back of our lot is a steep bank that leads down to a small creek. The creek is not connected to our lot. Technically it is “owned” by the people on the other side of the creek. But I can see it from a hammock in the trees on our lot’s hillside and access it for entertainment purposes without too much trouble. So for realistic purposes, the creek is, therefore, part of our living environment.

My daughter turned three just before we moved here in August so she is at that age where she likes to hear and tell stories. “Dadda… Tell me a story.” I’m not sure how it started but somewhere along the way we seemed to stumble upon a series… or a formula… or a continuing saga that always begins the same way…. Once upon a time there was a beautiful little girl who lived with her momma and her dadda in a comfortable little home on the edge of a forest. Then one day, the little girl snuck out of the house and went to play in the forest on her own…

Somewhat incredibly, there really is a very beautiful forest near our new home with an access trail on a dead-end street just three blocks away. I know this forest fairly well but not this side of it so much. I used to hike into it quite frequently from the access trail on the other side of town when I lived over there. Indeed, my knowledge of this forest was one of the main reasons I was very happy with our new home. Of course we don’t “own” this forest. And to tell you the truth, I’m not sure who does own it. But there are marked mountain-biking trails and even a few signs to point out landmarks so at least some of it is open to the public. I believe the mountain-biking trails are city property or high school property or both but I’m not sure. Further up in the hills; beyond a place that I call Big Rock Mountain you start to see no trespassing signs pop up and other threatening signals from deranged humans who take their ownership metaphor way too seriously. But I have never seen anybody walking around up there other than me and I certainly have not been informed in person that I’m not supposed to walk there. Actually, since I have almost five miles worth of bike trail on clear public property, I don’t venture onto the dubiously posted lands very often. It’s just that sometimes I can’t help myself. My inner anarchist emerges and the thrill of trespass is just too much to resist. Continue reading

Travel Medicine…

Hummingbird continues…

“Some people never go crazy. What truly miserable lives they must live.” Or so Charles Bukowski once said. The crazy vivid apocalypse dreams started during my hike up Mount Chirripo in Costa Rica when I thought I had malaria. I had been taking the anti-malarial drug Lariam for two months by then and in retrospect, I associate the dreams with the drug. But, as they say in law school, correlation is not causation. I only took the drug during that first ever journey through Central and South America for a total of about six months and the dreams went on an on for several years afterwards. The psychological/spiritual issues that arose when I abandoned my legal career a few years after my trip were also very close to the side effects for Lariam that the French Doctor warned me about. But again, correlation is not causation. With the wisdom of hindsight, I see the whole big bundle of variables as inextricably tied together; the Lariam, the malaria, the stress, the dreams, the mania, the seizures, the abandonment of the legal career… Does that mean the pharmaceutical drug Lariam was the cause of my transformation from a lawyer into a stone mason? No; of course not. But it was, perhaps a contributing factor….

I’m standing in front of a very tall building of concrete and glass… a government building… it goes up and up and up forever. I enter and pass through metal detectors to reach the elevators. The elevator takes me up and up and up to a floor of offices. A maze of intersecting corridors leads me to “The Clinic”. A clipboard full of paperwork is handed to me. I sit in a waiting room and look at the clipboard. It makes no sense… a foreign language? no, not even that. It is symbols or hieroglyphics or diagrams with random numbers mixed in. There is a signature line at the bottom. I sign my name. A sexy blonde woman in a tight-fitting business suit emerges from a back room and calls out my name. I hand her my clipboard and follow her to a remote office somewhere within the maze of corridors. She tells me about diseases, horrific diseases with gruesome and explicit symptoms. I am going to a dangerous place, an uncivilized place. I will need biological protection; physiological security. She recommends the first protocol and gives me another paper to sign. I am then ushered into an examination room. A middle aged woman in a nurse’s uniform is waiting with a needle… several needles. She gives me shots… four I think, maybe five. Also a couple of pills to swallow right there and then. Modern medicine circulates through my bloodstream to protect me from the uncivilized world I am entering. I also get a couple prescriptions to fill. Drugs to take once a week or once a day for the whole time I am traveling in a danger zone. The pharmacy is on the bottom floor of the building. I take the elevator down, buy my drugs and go outside.

The heat hits me on the pavement… instant sweat. The sun beats down. The air is thick with moisture. I hurry to shade spots but it does no good. The heat turns up. Even in the parking garage, the heat is oppressive. I have to squeeze through hot vehicles to reach the burning hot driver’s seat of my car. The air conditioner brings instant relief. Suddenly cool. Then too cool. By the time I exit the parking garage, I am shivering with cold and I shut off the air-con. Then the heat begins again. Out on the highway, I am sweating again, burning up. I try the air conditioner again but this time it won’t work. Hotter and hotter…. sweating… steaming… The sun beats down through the windshield. My entire body is soaked in sweat. But still shivering. And a headache. The whole body aches as it sweats and thrashes and shakes. Then I hear the horns honking. Lots of horns with different incoherent sounds ricochet around the inside of my head. I see the flames in my rear view mirror. Oh shit, the bed of my truck is on fire. Panic. The heart races. Heavy breathing. Will I suffocate? I weave across three lanes of traffic as the honking blares around me. I pull to a blazing stop on a small off ramp. The flames are near the gas tank. The whole thing is going to explode. But I can’t get out. The seat belt is stuck, jammed, broken or melted shut. I struggle and writhe in agony as the sweat streams from my pores. I can’t get out of the god damn seatbelt and the whole thing is going to explode. Oh no oh shit oh no oh shit… Struggle pull, yank, wiggle, struggle, pull, SNAP…

The seat belt releases me and I kick open the driver-side door. I leap out through the opening and start running up the side of the road away from my flaming truck. My heart pounds in my chest, sweat gushes out all over and I cough and gag out smoke from my lungs. Somewhat strangely, I look up and see another flaming truck veer across the highway up ahead. And then I see another flaming vehicle on the road to the left of me. Flaming things are falling from the sky, black and grey smoke swirls all around. What in the bloody hell is happening? And then the explosion behind me. Kaboom. It knocks me to the ground but doesn’t hurt me. I think it was my truck. When the blast is over and the smoke clears a little I stand up, turn around and look to see what happened… Holy shit, it looks like the end of the world… Continue reading

Malaria Dreams…

Hummingbird continues…

Time and place; place and time. Events happen in sequence. But when we look at the sequence in reverse, it all takes on a whole new meaning. Where do we go from here? What happened? Snippets of memory flash through my brain but I can’t hold on to them. I can’t stitch enough together to make a story… A whole story… It was the Fall of 1992, a long time ago. I was traveling through Central America. My first ever journey. I was a novice backpacker. How did I get from there to here?

Fever dreams on Mount Chirripo… For me, at least, that’s when the apocalypse started. That’s when the crazy vivid dreams began. I had been wandering through Mexico and Central America for over two months. Which means, I had been taking regular doses of the anti-malarial pill called Lariam for over two months. Did the drug cause the dreams or the fever cause the dreams? Or a strange combination of both? I was staying the night in the Refugio at the base of Chirripo peak. It had been an exceptionally long hard hike to get there during the day because I was not feeling very well. My body ached way more than usual for such a medium difficulty trek and I was sweating intensely as I walked. I remember joking with the German guy I met on the trail that I felt like I was “hiking with malaria.” Indeed, I had felt similar symptoms to a lesser extent for several days before. Excessively sweaty with a minor headache, I stumbled around the capital city of San Jose’ in a daze. I attributed my discomfort to side effects from my anti-malarial drug- Lariam. But I had no sleep issues, high fevers or intense headaches so I didn’t think I was really ill. And I was not about to let a few minor side effects from a medication stop me from hiking to the top of Central America’s highest peak.

When I finally arrived at the camp/shelter on the side of the mountain, I felt like absolute shit. I was soaked through with sweat and aching all over. Costa Rica is tropical. Chirripo is a fairly hot mountain and it was a long hike. But that wasn’t the source of the discomfort that was crawling through my body. I was very ill. I clearly had a virus of some kind… maybe malaria. Nevertheless, I did not want to admit it. I was determined to climb to the top of the mountain. I refused to give up. I remember stumbling around the camp/shelter in the early evening with my macho American individualist persona on complete and full display. I made my packet of noodle dinner on the camp stove, rolled out my sleeping bag in a comfortable spot and tried to pretend nothing was wrong. The German guy I met on the trail was in the shelter and he kept pestering me about my physical condition as I arranged my spot in the corner for sleeping. “Are you okay,” he said, “you don’t look so good; maybe you should go back down in morning. Wait and climb Chirripo another day.”

“I’m fine,” I said, as sweat dripped from my forehead, “I just got the woozies from my malaria meds. No big deal. I’ll get a good night sleep and bag the peak in the am.” I took off my boots, stripped to my shorts and climbed into my sleeping bag.

“If you say so. I don’t want to tell you what to do. But mountain not more important than health. You should go back down if you are sick.”

“I’m not sick,” I insisted, “it’s just the medication. I’ll bet I beat you to the top in the morning.” I pulled the sleeping bag up over my head and closed my eyes in an attempt to sleep. But I didn’t sleep right away. My head ached intensely. I could feel the sweat beading up on my skin. I worried. Was I really sick? I couldn’t have malaria because I was taking the pills but maybe I had something else. I felt chills. My body ached. I heard the group of French hikers arrive at the shelter but I didn’t emerge from my sleeping bag cocoon to greet them. I stayed hidden quietly in the corner suffering with my chills and sweats and aches until I finally lost consciousness. And that’s when the crazy dream began… Continue reading