Meaning and Purpose

Meat Suit

Meat Suit

The meaning: I am a biological entity that’s a natural bi-product of the world and universe in which I exist. We humans literally are “a way for the cosmos to know itself.” The meaning of my life is to experience the ability to perceive and the interaction with that perception’s ramifications, also known as experience. My meaning is the experience of this limited life that I get to live. I get to think and live, the meaning is the experience.

The purpose: “The purpose of life is a life with a purpose.” A fundamental question must be asked by those seeking purpose, “What is important?” Your family, your community, your planet? Pursue purpose purposefully, enjoy happiness when it is found in the oddest of places but pursue purpose fully. Open you eyes and see, open your mind and see further.

There are no gods, no kings, no masters in choosing what you do, just influences by other humans and interaction with human systems or human interaction with natural systems. We are cogs of change, for good and for evil, we are pieces of bigger systems likes individuals in a family or a group in a polity or a nation in a geopolitical system (or an individual in a world system). We are each others destinies but we are distracted and blinded by control and influence mechanisms, like entertainment or archaic ideas of control. We live in a world built on thousands of years of grinding and constant societal change and evolution, most of us blindly moving through life without much context of our civilization’s experience and the way in which it’s past affects us.

We stand on the precipice of the future unfolding. Those that live are at the crest of a continually crashing wave of time. Our time is unfolding before our eyes and it’s us that wield this thing, this destiny of us together. The future of human life use to be controlled by others, thought by many that some better version of humanity was steering and guiding us and leading the rest of us like some controlling architect of an unknowable universe guiding our species into the future. But those days are dead, exposed to reality, the ideas of a day far gone.

We, alone in our environment (local, planetary, cosmologically) guide the sway of destiny with billions of others together, we are living in a revelation, the fruit of knowledge that whispers to us that we are the captains of our life the masters of our ships of destiny. The fruit of the tree of knowledge has been bitten long ago and our eyes slowly throughout time opened to a reality that has been unfolding. We are small, incomprehensibly so but we are free within our biological and technological limitations, we are free much like the cap of the pyramid is free of its base. Our foundations, our yesterdays guide us (sorry I started typing, but this feels like a different argument and different tangent).

If we are free to create our futures, what do you wish to create? What world would you help to build?

If we are constrained by our history what should we be seeking to subvert? If we are products of our birth what should we see in ourselves that our patriarchs are unable to tell us? If we are born of nation-states then what portions of our own history are being obfuscated? Where do I exist within the current system? Can I move out of the current paradigm? These have been (are) a few of my questions, good luck in finding yours. Always remember answers are speed bumps to more honed questions.

 

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Humming

Here is one I wrote in 2008. First I’ll post the edited version, second I’ll post the near-original as editing is a constant state for me.

 

Humming

 

So nimble in flight

so quick and agile

wings move without a sight.

 

I hum along to the fast beat of your wings,

hoping you the best on your perpetual feed.

 

Wings beat near my face

a little bird with so much grace.

 

Just sitting alone contemplating the soon

concerned about a future that looms so near,

afraid of the impending moment.

The air gets thick and it’s hard to get a breath

 

but then the feeling of little wings beat on my face

curious and sniffing it glides though the air about my brow

 

With its peaceful intentions I calm right down.

 

Air flows and there is peace once again,

I draw a deep breath.

It sticks around for a while until peace is made.

Then off into the night where it began,

 

I pray for the little birds journeys

and thank it once more for its serenity.

 

Goodnight sweet hummingbird.

 

 

 

Now the one from 2008

Humming Bird

 

So quick and agile so nimble in flight

Wings moving with out even a sight

Singing along to your impetuous beat

Hoping the best on perpetual feed

Wings beat on my face

The little bird with so much grace

 

Just sitting alone contemplating the soon

Worried about the future coming so near

Feeling so down and afraid of the impending moment

The air getting thick, can’t get a breath

Then the feeling of wings beat on my face

Curious and sniffing it glides though the air about my brow

 

As soon as I realize I calm right down

Air flows and there is peace once again

It sticks around for a while until peace is made

Then into the night where it began

I pray for the little birds journeys

And thank it once more

Goodnight sweet hummingbird

 

It seems not a lot changed, but those structural changes were huge for me and I was afraid if I edited too much from the original I would loose what it was that I was trying to convey when I first wrote it. In this form I can see the night that I wrote it clearly. I sat on my mom’s porch and was drinking my thoughts away, self-medicating my mind. It was a muggy North Texas night and I was thinking about the terrible aspects of being human; the scary places, the bad people, and hard times. I was caught in that line of thought for a while and I remember wanting to be free of it and then a humming bird showed up and made me feel better, I wrote down the experience in the for you see above.

There is a lot that could’ve be done to make this piece better but I think it’s pretty just the way it is.

Later… I posted this and then looked at it again and made even more changes. It seems putting it out there had an affect on my seeing it in a different light. Now I am happier with it than I ever had. I really feel I’m done with it now (he says until he wants to edit it again, haha!).

Here is tonight’s edit

Humming

 

Nimble in flight,

so quick and agile

wings move without a sight.

 

You arrive into my little world and

I hum along to the fast beat of your wings,

hoping you the best on your perpetual feed.

 

Watching as your wings beat near my face

a little bird with so much grace.

 

Sitting alone as I contemplate the next steps

concerned about a future that looms so near,

afraid of the inevitable future that always floats near.

 

The air gets thick and it’s hard to get a breath

but then the feeling of little feathers flitters on my face,

curious and sniffing it glides though the air about my brow

 

seeing its peaceful intentions, I calm right down.

Little wings move a lot of stale air,

 

atmosphere flows and

I draw a deep breath.

The little bird sticks around for a while

until my peace is made.

Then off never to be seen again.

 

I mutter a prayer for the little birds journeys

and thank it once more for its brought serenity.

 

Goodnight sweet hummingbird.

 

And even with this edit I can see words like ‘floating’ that don’t really work. But the reality is it will never be perfect to me, I’ll continue to learn and to understand language better and I shouldn’t worry about it. Its hard though, because I see these words as a representation of myself and I want that representation to be as me as I want it to be. Though in reality we are what we are and maybe a perfectionists touch on a seven year piece of a fragmented memory in poetry form should be, at some point, left alone to be what it is.

Maybe this shouldn’t even be shared. What the hell do I know?

Proto-Poems and Proto-Prose

So have a bunch of stuff that I’m not sure what to do with. Mostly old proto-poems/prose, things that I scratched out in the early parts of a struggle to see past the past and look toward the future again. Some of the stuff I wrote in what I call my ‘post-combat blues’ phase of life. It was a time in my life where I wasn’t sure where I fit. I had lost faith, lost hope, lost pride, lost my father, and my mind wrestled with my deployment to Afghanistan and a stint in the Army almost every moment of every day and night. Times were tough for me then.

I’ve been sitting on a lot of this stuff since 2007, I tried to edit them, tried to polish them for a long time but for the most part they’re the reflection of the struggle I was caught in. The struggle to be ok is a tough nut to crack for some of us. I think I’ll share some of my scratches on ocher that made me see my own humanity, that made me see horizons again in a time in my life when all I could see were storm clouds.

By posting them here I am freeing them from the cage of the hard drive they’ve sat in for years and freeing me from fretting and watching over them. Now they can be out of my hands. If these proto-poems/prose could hear I would tell them, “Fly free little words and thanks for starting me on a path to knowledge and helping me learn how to be ok with being me.”

Ghosts and False Liberation

mario-star-scramble-2-ghost-island

Picturing my ghosts and I begin to get a creepy feeling that rides up my spine into my neck and crawls through my skin. My ghosts began to manifest.

Shadows of thought and the blanks spots of discarded memories flash before my eyes until I realize there ain’t nothing scary about the thoughts in my head.

I am free. A liberation of music in my ears and a revolt of self-altered consciousness. All lies.

I’m moving from the truth in my heart to the induced trauma of realizing I’m awake, that this moment is life and it’s happening all around me. Not a liberation or revolt but a rout, a retreat from reality.

The phantoms, the specters, the ghosts of me will give chase as long as I refuse to face them. What is required to be rid of my monsters? Face your fear, face fear, conquer or perish, move forward or slip back into the dark abyss.

Who the fuck am I? Am I the mosaic or the smashed little pieces that consists of its whole? Am I the constantly changing self I seem to be always chasing or am I that thing I pretend to be, that better me I strive to be? Or am I that cat that just goes along in agreement to the verbs that others speak, unable to stop nodding my head, thinking to myself “this is all wrong.”

I am the consistency of perfectly cooked chef-made scrambled eggs.

I slide into my soul like a well-worn hoodie.

Love and Anthropology

Heart Pump

An anthropologist named Schneider said, “Love can be translated freely as enduring diffuse solidarity.” Some have accused his definition as not romantic or that it wouldn’t be accepted by poets. I think it is one of the most beautiful definitions of love that I’ve seen.

Experience isn’t romantic, it can be but for the most part it is a dirty smelly boring thing, a reality filled with daily existence and the mundane politic of everyday life. Experience runs the gamut; it’s commutes and war zones, nine to fives and hunger pangs, coffee-shits and cold-sweats at midnight.

The Romantics definition of love is flowers, beauty, and higher powers that intervene beneficently wither gods or governments. Those romantic bastards may have struggled but their pursuits were patrician, where a mug like mine is getting through the rest of this day, the struggle to succeed, to overcome, to resist, to fight is where people like mine realty’s exist.

I don’t love for poetry, even though that may be a bi-product, I love because of trust. I don’t love because of flowers and their flourished fragrances, I love because I’ve found those few who would get my six when shit hits the fan. Love isn’t the lustful passions that overcomes me, love is the companionship felt after love is made. Love is solidarity, love is existing with others in companionship along the paths of life and helping each other beyond the barriers that block our way.

Those Romantic bastards helped us in our understanding, plucked at our heart strings but holding on to the Romantics and their notions of love have set us back in finding solidarity with each other in this struggle of life. Love the way you think you should, not the way some cat sold it. Love in the streets, love in the foxhole, love in-between the sheets, but all I ask is that you learn (if you haven’t already) what true love can be some time before you inevitably die, because it is worth it.

Free

bombed library

We exist within the cultural makeup of the world and society around us. We, for the most, part don’t get to immediately choose the path that we want to take. We’re pushed and prodded by everything from the beliefs of our parents to thousands of hours of forced public schooling, from the laws on the books to the cultural taboos that guide our daily decision making process.

No one can guarantee anybody else’s freedom in this existence as freedom is not given by anybody, freedom is hard and dirty work but it’s possible to push the bounds of culture and to break through the mentality of control to snap the chains of the enslaved mind. You must sacrifice for anything worth having but even if you risk it all and sacrifice, nothing is guaranteed.

No matter what prison constrains me I shall be free, for freedom exists first in the mind of the liberated. Humans are born equal but few are born free. No matter what anybody says I cannot be someone’s property, they may believe it but property in its essence cannot revolt or subvert, just through the experience of cerebration that natural by-product of a human being existing expresses individuality and freedom to choose in whatever limited capacity there may be.

So learn how to choose what you want your experience to be, that’s what trying new things and education is for. We are born into a world of other peoples shit; their hang ups, society’s taboos, the dogmas of fools, and the rationality of the greedy. To find your own voice as the world around you screams, is to sing the song of emancipation.

Like the man said, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds.” So sing mother-fucker, sing! Sing the song of your own liberation.

Bad Dancing

I realized that I learned how to dance (or was influenced) from watching the rhythmic flowing moves of the Spartan Cheerleaders on Saturday Night Live.

My wife and I were hanging out on the couch channel surfing and enjoying the day off together. After a while we came across a channel playing old Saturday Night Live episodes. This minor moment, sitting in front of the TV, finger mindlessly and repetitiously smashing a button on a remote, changed my perspective on understanding the small influences that play into people’s lives.

Cheerleading for a chess tournament is a great set up for a joke but nothing more not something that influences people’s entire lives. We were watching these two characters on our little TV screen and I noticed a look creep across her face, at first I thought she was confused by the SNL skit, but as I watched her watch the Spartan Cheerleaders dance for a little while she started to say things like “hey you do that!” and “Oh God! Did you learn to dance by watching this!?” I then understood the look wasn’t confusion but recognition.

I chuckled and thought she was making a bad joke, I focused on our TV set and the longer I watched Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri dance their moves I recognized more moves from my own bad-ass repertoire. I realized in that moment I was not in fact a good dancer, just a confident dancer and I confidently moved like Saturday Night Live’s Spartan Cheerleaders.

I can now, looking back, only think about how Luke Skywalker felt, dangling, hand chopped off telling his evil and its maligned realization, “NO… No, it can’t be true!”

It was a moment of stark and immediate transition from judging the actors on the screen for being goofy dancers to ‘my god I am a goofier dancer and I learned from them’. After considering this life altering event I have reassessed and I’ve now determined not I nor the Spartan Cheerleaders are bad dancers, we just do like we do.

I’ve never been a great dancer. There are many times in my life I can look back to with fond reminiscences of moments I spent dancing. Skanking the night away at ska shows or dancing and slamming into others in the pit at punk shows. At prom, where I had more than one fine lady dancing around me, causing my teenage raddled brain to think that there was not a person that graced this green earth that pimped harder than I pimped at that moment.

I’ve done the robot everywhere my boots have led me, from the top of Rocky Mountain peaks to the ancient land of Afghanistan, from my mom’s Baptist church to that Taco Cabana I went to that one time. My twenty-first birthday celebration was a celebration for everyone in that upstate New York dance club when I fused Merengue, Booty Shake, the robot, and the sprinkler all into a terrible concoction that never should’ve been released onto this plane of existence. Ladies were throwing themselves at me and it was very nice of them to do so.

I do the tootsie roll without remorse, I shake my ass without course. I dance when I wanna, when the heart yearns for it, when acting the fool is my destiny. I don’t know if it was Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri, curse or blessing, or just a nudge in the right direction. A nudge that told a younger me that if I was dancing to not give one single fuck, not even if I’m a distraction my own team because… damnit I am dancing and you can excuse yourself from my awesome if you can’t handle it. To all the goofy or bad dancers, grab yourself some courage whether in giving it all away in the spontaneous awakening of your consciousness when you step on the floor or a beer or some shots, and get on the dance floor and join me in shakin’ that ass.

Like the lady said in some variation, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be a part of your revolution.”

So get out there and dance motherfucker, dance.

Black Sites and GITMO

Picture from Wikipedia

Picture from Wikipedia

I’ve been going through articles on the UC Davis Guantanamo Testimonials Project and reading about what GITMO detainees went through. It is a project dedicated to collecting the testimonies of those who have been involved with dentition at Guantanamo Bay in their own words. I’m trying to learn about something that terrifies me, I want to stop reading the articles but I feel drawn into the testimonies of prisoners and jailers alike and I want to bear witness to the history they have to tell.

One of the testimonies was about an innocent man – there are a lot about innocent people, just look at the list of names of the detained and see how many have been released – but this guy was snatched up and tortured for eight fucking years. Eight years of his life were taken away, by a government of separate sovereignty than his own and sent to a faraway land (if this happened to US citizens on the regular we’d be at war or we’d at least send in Bill Clinton). This guy is a Kuwaiti and elements of the US government hears about him and somehow suspects him of terrorism, snatches him off the street, throws him in jail, and then sends him to Guantanamo Bay Cuba to be tortured for 8 years of his life.

Shit’s brutal.

A court heard his case in the US and the judge said that there wasn’t enough evidence to have him locked up in the first place, much less put him into the most notorious High Value Target (HVT) detention facilities ran by the most powerful empire (or Super Power what ever language you prefer) in the world to be tortured and detained for almost a decade. It’s scary to think about how much power over the lives of others some people have. And there are tons of article similar to this one about lots of different people on the site, not just detainees but soldiers and civilian alike all confirming what went on, what goes on there.

This terrifies me and it’s not just the idea of being locked up and tortured for being nothing more than, in a lot of cases of the detainees, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s the understanding that there’s an entity in the world that claims to represent my interests that’s powerful enough to put people from all over the world anywhere they want and treat them with torture to gain information. GITMO isn’t a just a jail it’s a processing center. It’s a place where you go if the US really suspects you of terrorism. It is a processing center that controls your life until it determines whether or not it’s through with you. The places you go if the US really really thinks your guilty – guilt determined by means that don’t work (aka torture) – are called black sites, black because they’ll be redacted with black ink as soon as the printer ink dries. These are dark holes officials in the US government throw people to be tortured away from the peering eyes of its own citizenry and the world. All without a hearing, all based on the principle of guilty until proven innocent veiled in obscure readings of the law, it freaks me out.

I’m so thankful I am not any of these people, the guards, the interrogators, but especially the ‘detainees’. We should call them what they really are, victims of a powerful faceless system that represents a small segment of the human population and it has the power to determine who is an enemy by a secret and ever changing set of criteria with ‘no meaningful insight’.

These are the stories I’m really afraid of. When I got home from Afghanistan I remember telling my mom, “When I was younger, I remember being scared of ghosts and demons, now that I’m home I know there are scarier things that go bump in the night, like a human being with an RPG.” Yeah and big-damn governments that could chose to call you an enemy because you aren’t the way it thinks you should be.

Just a side note, here is a video of Christopher Hitchens agreeing to be water boarded. Very informative for those who have never seen what water boarding is really like.

Dreams

M16

I had a dream last night that I’ve had many times before.

Back in the mountains of what seemed like Afghanistan, in one of those dry valleys with rock faces reminiscent of Mars, mountains so old they’re crumbling under their own weigh. A small stream twists and cuts its way through the rock for untold eons and it creates the valley I’m standing in. This place seems familiar like somewhere I called home for a small piece of my life.

I’m in full battle-rattle; DCUs (desert camouflage), tan combat boots, wonderfully fitted helmet, LBE (Load Bearing Equipment) vest chalk full of canteens ammo and grenades, Kevlar vest, and a semi-trusty M-16A2 rifle. I either look terribly silly or an intimidating sight to the back-water tribesmen and nomads that fill the dreamspace. In reality I must look like an invader, something foreign and barely recognizable as a fellow human being in all that gear. But I see myself as the epitome of military professionalism, no smiles for the children that gather to look at me and my compatriots occupying a little piece of their part of Earth.

I see myself in a convoy of military vehicles filing through the valley that has stopped to allow a band of nomads to pass across the road in front of us. I watch them as they flow past us, robes and cloth flapping lightly in the wind. I’m a few vehicles back from the front, watching for any ill will in the form of weaponry from those fellows or the surrounding area. We barely notice a child of no more than twelve come from out of the dust and walk straight up to the lead vehicle in the convoy. One of his little hands pulls a 9 millimeter pistol from his cloths, point the weapon into the open driver-side widow and begins to fire and unloads the magazine into the vehicle.

The driver was leaning back and the kids bullets found the passenger. As soon as he was able the driver disables the kid and with a quick motion the kids arm no longer bends the way its suppose to.

I see later into that day and the passenger is lying in the medic shop of our little out in the middle of no-where fire base made of mudbrick, sandbags, plywood, and Hesco-walls. The medic’s shop is roomier than one would expect seeing it from the outside, two full hospital beds and all manner of equipment kept immaculately clean by the professional combat medics that call that place ‘the office’. On one table a doc is pulling expended rounds from the passenger’s body, he’s laid up, drugged, no pain where his mind is. The shooter – the kid – is on the other bed getting his arm fixed up by another medic, another soldier holds an M-4 carbine and points it at the kids head from a few feet back waiting for him to move the wrong way, emotions are a mother fucker some times. “Point that thing somewhere else.” Doc doesn’t like guns in the office.

The passenger wakes up. He’s a big man and when not on missions or planning for them he’s in the gym that is found on the firebase. Somehow the US military machine moved all the work out equipment you could want to this back-water alien place. Big-Man wakes up and the kid’s staring at him. Big-Man opens his eyes and the first thing he sees are the eyes of his would-be failed assassin. He blinks any dreams out his eyes and his arms flinch out and begin to strangle the kid. Doc and his medics pull him off, the soldier with the gun laughs as they pull the kid away into a different room.

I see a flash… I see my dad, he looks old and frail. We’re walking together down the street. He’s having trouble walking, he looks like he’s in his eighties, he’s 54. He was Navy reservist during Vietnam, they tell me he was exposed to Agent Orange while the fleet was anchored at Yankee Station. He smiles a lot, so do I, some sort of lopsided thing I plaster on my face. Fake smiles are all I could do for years after I got back home. My dad’s smile was kind of fake too, maybe not fake, more like something to keep things from getting awkward as he figures out how to say whatever it is he is going to say, more of a real smile than I can muster. We share a walk; we say things I no longer remember.

I wake up.

I have this dream from time to time, sometimes I am the child, sometimes I’m Big-Man, sometimes the driver, sometimes my father, sometimes the bullets, sometimes the valley, and sometimes one of the nomads, all aspects and many perspectives. When this dream haunts my thoughts I’m forced to think that I share the fate of living with all mankind.

I’d be anyone else if I possessed a different perspective. I am what I am. You are what you are. We are what we are in relation to our experience and the way we behave to stimulus from the world that we perceive and interact with.

Sometimes I think that we’re all sharing the same soul. That somehow none of us are different, that if put in anyone else’s shoes, having to live the lives others lived, I would’ve made the same decisions anyone else has. Sometimes that thought makes me smile; times like after I’ve had that dream the thought makes me weep.

Cemetaries

 

Cemeteries call out to me, do they call you too?

We’re all dead men on leave a general once said.

It’s nothing but ash we’re promised, pipe dreams

of infinity. But what about this portion of the eternal?

 

What of this moment, in it exists all the ramifications

of the past blossoming into fruition and all futures

yet seen. This moment is the holy temple of existence that

many spend entire lives seeking, can we just pretend

 

some semblance of civility? The afterlife

and their associated religions

are things we’re taught, he’vn or hell but it ain’t like that.

Civility before emotional reaction, do unto others as you would

have them do unto you. Remember that infinity is this too.

 

In this moment, and series of moments called life

is the heaven, is the hell of our experience.

 

Inevitably this always boils back down to rule number one

for living this life: Don’t be a dick*. We’re all slowly dying and

our grasp of this existence is limited by our experiences

filtered through the limited senses we’re born with

and the reason we forge.

 

All we have is this moment of clarity in a blink of an eye existence

that’s over before you knew it.

 

*Shout out to a wise lady.