Daily Archives: August 15, 2011

The Challenge of Quietude

Things could seem fairly grim to almost anyone trying to stumble through this new century.  Somebody always walking into a schoolhouse with a gun, someone always bombing someone else, shooting someone else.

  • A cop probably feels things are middling dangerous for cops, feels things have gotten out of hand, feels threatened.
  • Store employees fearing their bosses, merchants fearing their employees, all of them fearing the dangerous potential of every customer.
  • Politicians fearing the opposing party, fearing the voters, fearing the prez.
  • Gang bangers fearing opposing gang bangers, fearing the cops, fearing their brother gang members knowing they’ll sell them out for a plea-bargain in a minute if faced with a long-term sentence.
  • Druggies fearing the dealers, fearing the cops, fearing the high cost of a habit, fearing other druggies, fearing their families, fearing do-gooder mammas and sisters and angry wives who might give them to the cops ‘for their own good’ after a long series of attempts to kick that didn’t work.
  • Christians fearing Muslims, Muslims fearing Christians, everyone fearing what the price sign above the gas pump’s going to show the day after the November election.
  • Single women fearing they’ll grow old without a man, married people fearing they’ll lose their partners to disease, to war, to accidents, to infidelity, to abuse.
  • Everyone fearing for the kids, for their safety, their increasingly brainless approaches to reality, for their futures.
  • Everyone watching the television screen, everyone shaking his head with the latest thing happened somewhere.

We’re in one of those niches in human history during which mass hysteria prevails.  An erosion of faith, a lapse of memory as a result of the bombardment of news submerging the mass-consciousness into the goldfish bowl of NOW.

The reality is that things aren’t worse now than they’ve ever been. 

Death still comes one-to-the-customer.

Kids, cops, gang bangers, birds, whales, baby seals, druggies, Christians, Muslims, every living creature is going to cross the finish line, same as they always have.

People aren’t killing one another more frequently than they’ve ever done.  They’re doing it about the same amount as they always have.  Killing and stomping one another, enslaving one another, robbing one another, invading one another.

Life’s a tough gig if we forget we’re going to die.  It always has been.

The challenge to man has always been putting himself above all that.  The courage to accept he/she will die, the kids will die, their kids will die.

The challenge is in the courage of acceptance, of distancing the self from the daily events creating the illusion death is somehow foreign, unnatural.  Tragic.

The challenge lies in living in the knowledge we’re going to die while behaving as though we aren’t.  In the courage to transcend the inevitability and allow ourselves to understand those other folks, the kid-killers, the gang bangers, the druggies, the cops, the government goons, the Christians and Muslims, the sheeple, all of them are just the same as us.  All stumbling around trying to get through this life.

The challenge lies in forgiving them for forgetting, forgiving ourselves for forgetting, we’re going to die and submerging ourselves in fear and brother hate.

The challenge lies in transcending the forgiveness enough to be grateful for the moments, every one of them, between the crying and the dying.  Grateful for the pain, the hardship, the loss, and the spiritual growth potential.

The challenge of acceptance that it ain’t all flowers and honey, never  has been, never was supposed to be.  That this life isn’t about what happens across the ocean, in Washington, in the crack-house down the block, or in the next bedroom where the kids are sleeping.

This life is about this side of the ocean, this city, this block, this house, this bedroom, right there where you are sleeping.

The impression you are making in that mattress, that pillow is where the minutes are ticking away, that’s where opportunities to become something better are located somewhere in a flash of life and time that’s ticking, ticking, ticking, trickling sand into the bottom of the glass.

The courage to repudiate the mind-games of others.

Others shouting to you that where someone else dies matters.  Others demanding you pretend you won’t have to die, if you hire more cops, hand more of your personal decision-making over to the government, watch more television, put more people in prison, send the army off to stomp bad guys somewhere.

Ignoring the cowards whispering if you avoid different ingredients in your food, buy the latest health miracle and don’t breathe second-hand smoke you won’t have to die.

That’s the challenge.  Same as it’s always been.

Old Jules


Four Sacred Mountains- R. Carlos Nakai (Song for the Morning Star)