I was never a hippie like in the movies. Probably no one was. One year long ago in Arkansas I built a shack and miracles occurred, but those had nothing to do with stereotypes or social trends. It was simply living in the woods and opening my heart to everything I loved in Nature. My parents even visited me once. They were dressed up like they were going to a cocktail party. My father even wore a tie. I figure this was something their completely insane psychiatrist put them up to—the man’s own son committed suicide not long after—and they were bleeding pain all over the ground. Pain, pain, pain. It often seemed that was the only thing their lives could generate.
After driving all day and into the night from Houston, they found a motel in Madison and prepared to execute The Plan. The next day, they put on their Establishment uniforms designed to shame me (I told you the shrink was hopeless) and showed up unannounced at Yellowhammer Farm, embarrassed, frightened, and with nothing good to say. No one admired my handiwork with logs and plastic sheeting. No one laughed as I squirted milk from Prunella the Nubian’s single teat right into their coffee cups. No one liked my beard. They hung around for less than thirty minutes and departed. You won’t be surprised to hear that when I visited them that Christmas after moving back to Austin, the bird nests I’d brought them from the Ozarks weren’t a hit. Each one was different, too, still attached to the branch where it was built. To me they were astonishing, as well as metaphors for my own abode, which neither understood. My sister liked hers, anyway, and squealed with joy. Oh Teresa, oh my pal.
Nothing I saw in high school or at the university made any sense. I couldn’t have done the “right thing” if I’d tried. I never followed a career but always went my own way, out of sync as usual and all alone, lacking only the essential connection to something greater than myself. The Stuff of which we are a part. The Mystery that enlivens life, the very stones beneath our feet. When parents love you right, you’re plugged into this, but all of them have feet of clay and most of us are damaged. This sets you up for learning. A life becomes a journey back to where we once began, if one will only take it.
Fear suppresses awareness of what you love and moving toward it. The biggest, most amazing change for me in recent years is stepping into happiness outside of family or possessions. This happens accidentally when I least expect it. It’s akin to hearing your spirit hum like a refrigerator in the background, a flash of being permanently high. This is my reward for never giving up and blowing out the candle. It’s where I want to be and live. Yet at this stage of my own expedition, I honestly don’t know what to do next, conventionally speaking. Maybe it’s time to rest a bit and let desire grow.
My wife and I have money from the dead. It isn’t much but pays the endo gods. We could buy a house in Taos if we gave most of it to the bank and took on debt again. Taos, mind you, on the verge of going back to Nature like America, and not in any way that most of us will like at first, which means we’d have to never want the money back again. (No one these days can count on any system rooted in the past, so yes, the fear phone rings.) A trivial concern at best, however, because it’s also true that one is never trapped, reality is malleable, and I was trained to aim too low. If I found a house I loved, how could that be wrong? Logic only works for things like shooting apples off of heads: don’t do that, obviously. Everything else is up for grabs. We’ll all feel mighty stupid when we’re dead and learn we only needed to imagine a better world we thought we couldn’t have.
My wife and I visited the storage unit yesterday in search of something that we didn’t find, but it was good to be there in the sun and look around: the maple desk and German antiques I hauled back from Tucson after my mother died, the gorgeous rug we still aren’t using, lamps and clothes and books we can’t enjoy because we have no place to put them. None of this is tragic, though. I merely gazed upon them and woke up a tad because they spoke to me. What else might whisper down the road? And where does passion lie?
I do know why I’m on the planet, why I’m here. It’s to notice things and be a beacon for “okay.” Beyond that is the Void, and thank you, Jesus, for the nails. Thank you to my parents, who never understood, and to a way of life that doesn’t matter. The refrigerator hums. Ich lebe immer noch. “This world’s on fire,” my friend said, and he was right.