The problem with Narcissus was he couldn’t lift up his stream and carry it around with him in his pocket like we can. Self-awareness is not the same as self-perception. Unfortunately. Philosophically, we’re four generations all living at the same time struggling with the same disadvantage: disadvantage. When it comes to witnessing one’s self, all of us come blind.
I had this idea recently, I think it’s related, that it is not a third eye, but the second mouth which lives in our minds, and all senses feed. I had this idea when I was thinking about the nature of an eyeball. A receptacle, a trash can filled with recycling. Receiving, not really creating. And that’s a poor analogy for consciousness. Considering how much reality imagination is responsible for making. A mouth breathes, in and out, and that you behind the you is not just pulling strings but also reaching out and tying them to things, maybe it should be called the third hand.
See. See how hard it is to see yourself clearly.
To talk about how it feels to feel and make up perfectly parallel analogies. We have no control. No comparison for an ideal life. The one human who did it right. Sure enough, many have tried. Problem is, they said they wouldn’t, but they really did just up and die. Our great philosophers filled our heads with what ifs and wait and sees, and almost none of them fought to hold on to life in the breakneck manner which was passed down to you and me. They left their model incomplete. They never warned us the third eye speaks. And that it isn’t an eye. It’s a disgusting sloppy pair of lips we shove stuff in to spit stuff out and swallow hard and peel back and shout.
It took cameras cheap enough to fit into a commoner’s pocket to show us who we are. And we’re hypnotized, by all the things the storytellers of our society never wrote down. We’re demanding of ourselves to be some new creature because we have never seen us before, even though the latter can true while the former remains demonstrably false. Nothing new in the last fifteen thousand years for Man. Learning something new about yourself isn’t really news.
I believe they call that revelation.
You’ll argue as long as you can. We’ll put it to bed. Maybe in a year you’ll say, I was thinking about that thing you said way back again, you’ll ask me what I meant. And I’ll be a year ahead, no longer questioning, practicing philosophy all of my own, which advises me heavily against teaching people who they are. No. I can work with why. How. I can work with not today, tomorrow maybe. But no. You confessed every reaction to a new situation or life change you’ve ever had before was no. Rather take it slow. Prefer to accommodate this stiff lactic acid choked emotion that hardens the stomach into cartilage and makes perfectly mobile situations sit stagnate and static and cold to the touch but hot like acid. I can’t help. To you, I can’t be shepherd or farmer or friend. To you, child of doubt, progeny of woe, I am no more than a sign post. I can point you to where I found God spying on me, I can tell you what it took to finally see what it is my eyes and ears and mind and fears feed. I found the fractal that gave me the shape of the birthmother of this place. I have seen what we were before. The ghost white pearl in a swirling cape of blackness, gravity radiating like energy, a pull that outreaches, a proactive desire, a cosmic pairing of opposites like the very first lovers weren’t necessarily more complex than dark and bright. But from their union all forms grew possible. I’m a piece of wood nailed to a stake that only says to you, ‘The Garden is This Way’.
Fifteen thousand years of voices, one billion years of choices. How did forward and back and should I eat that lead to all this. Consciousness. But you can’t call her that. She goes by Beverly. And she would prefer to pretend all those voices off all her ancestors are actually her own. When they aren’t. She’ll call them fleeting feelings. We call all kinds of evidence chaos when we don’t understand it. There are no miracles here. Our perception is in motion. The subject we’re paying attention to is in motion. Ever lined up with a car on the highway going eighty five and you’re both just sitting still staring at one another and your stomach even sinks, settles, like it does only when the car is stopped. That, but on an elemental level, creates the weird quirks and magical powers we keep giving to electrons that are really just deficits in line of sight. The truth is we live in a perfect, flawless, as in, no other way it could be accomplished, creation. Try not to let your imagination undermine simple, unobservable truth.
We don’t understand time yet. Its relationship to distance. And the clear obviousness that it is not a uniform progression. But like a runner who starts slow and speeds to the stop with several hundred breathers and water-breaks in-between, time chugs, like a fire starved steam train, we have good days where we feed it steady, and bad years, when the universe drinks too much, let’s her beard grow long and doesn’t wake up until she loses some animals. This whole shebang probably began when God went to start digging our grave. There’s the garden you plan. And then the one the land craves. And the farmer is a slice of deli meat squeezed hard between two pieces of bread: the living and the dead. And the purpose of life, I don’t know, be delicious. What is the purpose of sandwich meat, Beverly?
Is part of Jesus’s “goodness” the idea that he was in a position to refuse the tropes and expectations and standards of his times, of the career he was attempting? Saying you’re the ‘Son of God’. Performative, highly selective healing and even further-fetched miraculous stories beyond the reproach of anything resembling proof. Not lies, necessarily, more like exceptions, compromise. Does being good mean being uncompromising?
Thinking about this, what if Jesus’s philosophy, his rebellion, was not so much the widespread army of the poor at his back, spiritually content and eternity filling their heads, which did in fact prove to be the most difficult culture for a Roman to tax. What if his ministry was a Trojan Horse of sorts? Does that not explain Christianity’s impact on society ever since its inspiration’s life and times? How it successfully and nearly single handedly toppled an empire, a couple actually, fractured Europe, all while being simultaneously a prized tool and the eventual downfall of every government organization that ever adopted it.
Christianity may not be a belief system, a religion, it could be a curse. The final act of an innocent man murdered in the public eye, declaring he will now be the ghostly conscience haunting us all the rest of our lives. Why a rich person would bring the curse of Christianity down onto their house, willingly, I do not know. Even Jesus warned against it. Time and half recorded history has shown whatever bait Christ provides is thoroughly fishhooked.
Designed to ensnare and incapacitate the Roman.
What I wouldn’t give to drop down and hike on all fours like a dog. Or push off each step like that young woman ahead of me. I’m trying not to look at her backside. But she is young, and strong, and bold, to be out here almost all alone. A girl and her dog. Disappear into a fog. And I follow. A fire to sit beside and dry my socks and blur my mind in a sip of whiskey and a cup of wine and speak for a few minutes with company of like-mind and listen to problems like mine and sleep as if no morning will ever come again. Wrapped tight like a mummy, no plan for resurrection. Not only is tomorrow going to be a new day, it is going to require a new John.
This old one isn’t cutting it.
I know it may not seem exciting, but to me it is like living scripture, I am walking twenty miles on faith that another traveler left a message in a journal that will inform me which direction to head for the next twenty. I quite possibly have never worried about my son’s safety more so than I am being gripped to shreds by right now.
Worry is the lightest thing that’s too heavy to carry. I decide to leave it here in this shelter, in this journal, where I snored so hard I shook the mice from the rafters and awoke with a black bear cub and its mama curled up beside me in our den. I burnt the paper that held my breakfast. I filled every watertight container I have brimming with the lifeblood of this magical, wonder-filled forest.
And before she left, pack on, boots laced tight, hiking poles in one hand, Hailey hugged me, a good hug, full of that same lightning that passed through her hand into me last night. When that insurmountable intergenerational distance melts away at warp speed and through so much time and experience, we stand equals, young and old, both able to imbue one another with the exact form of energy the other needs. She may as well have thrown gasoline on the fire last night. She made this old footsore man feel young again. For a flash in a pan. For five minutes. And she got to see her father, in me. Hundreds, no, thousands of miles, distance be damned, it’s all distorted through the filter of emotions. Every mile. So many thousands of feet, maybe ten thousand or more foot steps.
Knowing that doesn’t make taking one any easier.
“Jeremiah can. He believes the church is keeping people from going after God. We’re ruining Jesus’ philosophy by presenting him as untouchable, unrealistic, embodied in sacred language, with you, pastors, up on a pulpit preaching and us, sheep, facing forward. These long diatribes about sanctuary design. Mobile benches and picnic tables. Every service a different array. Giant stone fireplaces with rocking chairs in front, and the pastor walks around serving food and refilling cups. More than doors, he wants open windows, giant tents, walls that roll up and fire-pits in fields and secondary sermons, conversations and getting lost in the woods. He wants church equal parts daycare, assisted living, community rehabilitation, mixed with everything national parks and campgrounds already are. He says there will be gardens and goats and chickens and the church, an immortal food source for community.
He says we got it wrong. Jesus worshiped us. He died to feed us, to strengthen us, called himself our lamb. Jeremiah says Jesus was communicating to him specifically, for him to hear these ideas. He says every true Christian feels like that, like Christ specifically lived and died to transmit a powerful, revolutionary message direct to their heart. To shake us awake, not to worship, but to be the new Jesus in the world.
John, he says this enough that I remember it all. He says there aren’t enough crosses. If we all walk toward love with determination, knowing we will likely be persecuted in the process, there aren’t enough crosses, aren’t enough Romans, for all of us. As long as good people are afraid to suffer for goodness, good people will be props for bad people. He says all this to our therapist. And the man just nods. Nods and doesn’t respond.
John, I know I’ve said too much, but your son told me God put a shroud over him, and he doesn’t know what people hear and see when they look at him, the truth is masked, they don’t actually hear his words, or see his face. He calls it his veil. He calls himself the loneliest man in existence. He says, with full confidence, he’s never been happy. Not once. He knows happiness exists, he’s seen it in our faces. But believes he’s never felt it himself.
How can someone say that, and think it’s true?”
I often tell myself, they see the world through their own eyes. They lay themselves down at night. We judge how a window views solely through a filter: distance. But when it comes to ourselves, there is none. We can not without consequence deem ourselves unworthy, as if we’re in the center of an ocean in a sinking boat with a spare one to climb into handy. For lack of the existence of a better word, you’re stuck. With you. I’m not. Love your enemy, as you love yourself. Thank you Professor Jesus. Let’s say this another way. The people who are good at chess play both sides of the table. Enemy is a storytelling device, a two dimensional rendering of a far more dangerous four dimensional threat. You are someone’s enemy. Often, more importantly, your enemy, is someone else’s you. Thinking.
Emotions, empathy, if this isn’t a human generated wireless exchange of energy, I don’t know what could be. But just because you look at someone and feel something does not mean that feeling has anything to do with that someone. It’s you. Your brain looks out at a larger world it can not control and paints in the blank, dimly lit spaces with you, your worst fears, hidden desires. Other people are fun-house mirrors, they shrink the mountains in our eyes into scarce specks of dust inside their own. And through that window, distance, you glimpse you in the face of someone you call you.
You sentence them to death.
Because deepest, within each tiny heart cell that beats same as your heart,
you sentence yourself.
Revenge just feels right in way justice never does.
Because revenge has distance in it.
And justice only exists inside of us.
This place is all dark and gravity, and almost all of our outward propulsion and explosive movement is limited and measurable and waning, the gravity and its grip is the only constancy, and no one disputes that one day we will all be together in that great cosmic singularity again. God was light. God was you and me, but without the and in between. All electron. All bright, and charged, and fastidious, and unsettling. God was a great big electron with all electrons inside like water in an ocean and it could do nothing but dream. Dinosaurs. Mankind. Amoebas. Oceanic trenches. Gas giants. We’re all filling in forms from that ancient imagination like they were molds in cast iron. Johnny Cake conscious and not much more than a set of eyes trusted more than truth itself. You were there, inside the ball of light, the complete antithesis to the universe we now know. You remember.
When you fall in love. When you lose your you, and let your body carry you miles and miles before you wake up and ask yourself where you’ve taken you. When you cry for pain that isn’t yours. When you lust after joy that isn’t either, and even when you hate, when you hit, the whole world will wear a bruise you intended for you. We are one thing. We know it. We trust our eyes too much, and they don’t show it, but there are more than chemical bonds hovering in the spaces between us.
We were there. We were just as much God as God ever was. And we grew bored.
We have to understand earth before we can begin to explore the universe.
We need to study ourselves completely before we can know the difference between that and theology.
Foundation work. It’s not sexy. It’s no trophy. If you build it right, no one will ever see it again or know you did it. Atheism makes no sense to me. It assumes modern religion’s definition of God is accurate, so if the entity described isn’t detected, there’s no God. No God whatsoever because it pretty quantifiably isn’t an old gray headed man in the sky hurling lightning. The word God was intentionally kept small, monosyllabic, open to endless interpretation, definition resistant. No amount of robes, candles, poetic language or colored glass will change your worship of mystic confusion into true worship of creative divinity. God made the universe as we know it. Several cut-rate writers offer versions of a flimsy fallible god going back and doing rewrites. That was their own personal lack of self awareness invading their imagination of limitlessness. Well, I’m not cut-rate, I’m flat out unpaid, unpublished, unknown, and I have started with studying myself and learning the earth and here is what I can tell you about God and our universe.
It died to create us.