About Spirit Rocks and Other Things

The world is chaotic. I make sense of my world by writing. An article feels therapeutic about now.

I should begin by saying: I just want to meander in words, because that’s the flavor of my life at long last. Each morning we stroll around a perfectly beautiful lake just a five minute drive from the house. Every season offers a visual feast here, and this little part of the world feels surrounded and infused with spirits. For example, there is the Angel Rock. He has a face, and wings. I fancy him to be the spirit of the park. Sometimes you can decipher an expression on his face, as if he’s predicting the day or participating in your actions and thoughts. Is he foretelling the future? Or does it just feel comforting to acknowledge the possibility that a sentient rock exists? Can he sense life’s rhythms down through the ages —right up to the present and even into my personal sphere? Maybe not. I say hello to him regardless, because he has a face and is ancient.

I have arrived at an inner peace and fulfillment … walking daily around that lake with my partner and our two dogs feels like a meditation in maturing, measuring, seasoning, and depth. And for the record, I do believe in spirits, and sentient rocks.

What is there to say? I have a lot to say, to rail against. So bear with me. Trophy hunting has inched closer to mass acceptance. The presidential sons, for instance, enjoy killing magnificent beasts. What motivates a person to stand with elephant parts for a photo? I’ve never understood, and never will. Actually, the current administration appears to be anti-animal. During the first month of the reign of #45, the USDA blacked out the part of their website dealing with animal cruelty violations. Why? Opinions and theories abound. I wonder if it’s simply because big business holds sway under this president? Anything in the path of big business gets swept away, and animals are the first to fall? I suspect that’s the case.

In my last political essay I mentioned that the confederate flag controversy appeared nonsensical to me. Flags don’t cause people to hate, or to shoot each other. That point of view seems like a long time ago. 2015. Before the news that —wait! —who is running for president? That’s got to be a joke, I remember saying. 2016. David Bowie died in January, then a string of musical icons from my generation followed him. Many of us mourned, continually, all year as one more would die. The dawning realization that Donald Trump was actually running for president sank in. No joke. It was an unsettling year.

Right now I want to say that my defense of confederate flags expanded to include the defense of the artwork of confederate statues —but is in no way an endorsement for the shrill dweeb Richard Spencer and his alt right miscreants. That’s important. I consider them at about the same low rank as trophy hunters. I will turn down both on the dance floor and think uncharitable thoughts about them.

When an elephant or a lion hauls off and kills a trophy hunter I actually quietly applaud the animals. Undeniably uncharitable, but true. I don’t believe in the death penalty. The state should not have that much power. But I do believe that if a wild animal kills a trophy hunter —there is self defense and poetic justice at that moment.

As for Richard Spencer and his followers –they should just be cold-shouldered. They deserve no more. Narcissists hate being ignored. Any attention, good or bad, just feeds a person like Spencer. I think the left has that one all wrong, trying to pick fights with losers.

For the rest of the chaos? The left and the right are currently yelling about who has more powerful sexual predatory men. Which party has more gropers? The other day I read that a woman had been paid to blow the sexual harassment horn about someone from the other side. Something like this was bound to happen. In an atmosphere of partisan finger pointing and misinformation, can the real issue of violence, power, and sexual assault ever come to truth and light? Who is real and who is not? The “Me, too!” movement, while righteous, has become one more tool of the bickering parties. Unwanted sexual advances are wrong, and sexual assault will shrivel even the most stalwart of souls. Most of us have had an experience of sexual assault. I have. But I’m not sure that in an age where an unstable president is telling people that Fox is the only real news —this does not feel like a safe environment to honestly deal with a national disgrace. Though I support the justice of sending powerful men home to think about their bad behavior, I also see the potential for more smoke and haze —more noise— here.

The noise itself is suspicious. What lurks under the flotsam and jetsam of the news? What are we meant to miss? I suspect that there are elements of truth all around, but hidden. The time to be discerning is upon us. What’s hidden beneath the noise, and around it?

What we buy and how we buy it —good deals— consumerism— defines the lives of many people today. The result is hollow and vapid. News is big business, another consumer product. Private details gleaned from our browsing activity –sold to bidders. Big business rules the day, not representative democracy, not clear headed thinking, not science. We have been misled. Indeed, we are lied to –by the left and the right.

This is the point where I despair, and find sustenance in lakeside spirit rocks, the close loving relationship with my partner, and my dogs. People are disappointing right now. It’s not just Trump, or congress, or Trump supporters, or the anti-science, alt-right, or born again Christian types —who are all plenty disappointing. The pendulum inevitably swings and all this will change. My disappointment is in the lack of good manners in the face of disagreement. The use of the word “evil” to describe points of view. The absence of civil intelligent discourse. And the breakdown of social skills in this day of the smart phone. Young people are not learning to dance, or play together in the mud, or love animals, or think logically. Everyone’s opinion is fact, and nobody is listening. Idiocy rules the day. There is no respect —not for animals, not for people, not for other opinions, not for experience.

One solution is a hands-on, small -is-beautiful approach to social and political change. Today I called the chairman of the FCC to voice my support of net neutrality. I care about animals, so my partner and I raise two rescue dogs. I marched on Washington against dog fighting a few years ago. Marching on Washington is a transcendent experience, by the way, and will place you right in the living experience of free speech. Every American should participate in a demonstration. What do we love, believe in, or stand for?

For over a half a century I have lived with passion, appreciating the beauty of the seasons, this earthly physical life. I believe in the power of learning, of reading books, and in the importance of simply showing up for my own life. Every day. Even for shitty days. Life is, above all, worth living. I admire people who raise children to have open minds. Kind people, who live their passion and joy without hurting other sentient beings –they rank high. I admire compassion even though, when it comes to trophy hunters and dog fighters, I fall short. Artists and writers, the antennae of society,  push the undercurrents to the fore so we can look at ourselves, and I love them for it. I aspire to live creatively and with daring, and to be graceful, like people I admire.

A bright red sky bit through the morning cold at dawn. I smiled when I got a picture of it. Beauty in everyday life, in a photo of dawn, in an adept turn of phrase in a well worn library book, the sensual joy in taking a good run, playing an instrument, or walking at the lakeside with dogs–these things are important as well.

Heartlessness, cruelty, the vapid noise of liars, and leadership devoid of common sense can not hold sway forever. Despair can not win. The sentient rock told me so.


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