Friday, June 20, 2008


Time ticks by; we grow older. Before we know it, too much time has passed and we've missed the chance to have had other people hurt us. To a younger me this sounded like luck; to an older me this sounds like a quiet tragedy.

It’s coming you know, the big royal screw up. That thing that will shatter relationships, break your faith in others, break their faith in you. There will be an event, perhaps many, which will cause you to be shunned from your community; it will break you, and build for others paradigms for others to classify you for the rest of your life. The rock tumbler of life practically dictates it.

Some dodge it better; while others pretend it doesn’t exist. To them, the world is cause and effect; a chain reaction tipped off by from a sequence of events we build because of suspect character. It’s not fate, it’s not inevitable, but it is much more than an occurrence confined to the select few of lesser moral character. And this belief is a tragedy.

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, oh Lord please don’t let me be misunderstood…

Character is like concrete. For every day living, for walking on, making roads and sidewalks work, it is sufficient. But put it next to something ‘natural’ like a river or a tree and pretty soon it’ll be sunk in, cracked and in need of repair. They built the worlds largest bridge out of it, and failed to acknowledge the major fault line below. Three years later, and the “character” of the concrete is being questioned. Concrete, like character will fail us.

And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can't ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it's already happened.” - God

I have lived barely a quarter of my life (I think otherwise…) but it seems like every human being I see in the course of a day has a problem, some thing some wound that is sucking up at least 70 percent of his or her radar. And the more perverse side is how much energy some spend rationalizing their own problems to convince themselves that the rest of the world is more amoral than we are.

If I die, and my soul be lost, nobodies fault but mine…

If I had to paint the colour of those who are the most ‘able’ advocates of the amorality of others, and the prolific proponents of their righteousness – it would be, sad to say: white. If I had to give them it a gender, it would be male; a religion: Christianity; a generation: X.

Human kindness is overflowing, and I think, I hope it’s going to rain today.

Perhaps the glaring contrast between my experience last week and this one is what forms this picture. Spending a week with a group of native people, ranging in age from 27 to 47, sounded like a track off a Nina Simone album. The song has soul, not so much in that the voice is powerful – but rather it is broken, pathetically optimistic and shatteringly real. A 26 year old, with a wife and three kids, lifts up his shirt to show me where his cousin cut him from the navel to the nipple for some feud, a 47 year old who doesn’t need to tell me their life story but in a laugh can say that she has seen much, experienced much and yet has still something to offer.

Oh sinner man, where you gonna run to?

The group that I am most familiar with till now, tends to sound more like a Gaither brothers rendition of “Mansion over the hilltop”, just keep smiling and singing and maybe they wont notice…Character commentary has become the strongest armor and the heaviest sword at the same time – we haven’t noticed that the slow dance is going on, while the room is burning – and we’re wondering why it’s so damn hot. Because many fear that if we lower our guard, if we extend the sympathetic, but genuine “I understand” for even one second, the whole world will disintegrate into chaos. We’re taught that to admit reality, to live outside a lifeboat theology (just keep paddling..), to fear, is not to fully trust God. Whoever started this, must have had a whole lota things going on.

How often is it we are rescued by a stranger, if ever at all? And how is it that our lives can become drained of the possibility of forgiveness and kindness – so drained that even one small act of mercy becomes a potent lifelong memory? How do our lives reach these points?

Here comes the sun little darlin, it’ll be alright..

I stood in the credit union watching a grown man in a wrinkled, dirty dress shirt, hold a syrofoam coffee cup, eyes baggy from days without sleep and retinas red from more than a few tears, and listened to him explain how the long march of Perdoe, leading to his expulsion will go I could think of nothing but of where his resting place will be.

Q: What animal would you be if you could be an animal?
A: You already are an animal

So why do I write this? Four or five disjointed paragraphs on the faults and faith of others. In part because I feel the tremor already of a (one of many) big screw-up. I can’t tell where it’s going to come, but I feel it. Is that totally self-deprecating of me? Perhaps. But I want to articulate now for myself that it will come. I want to recognize that no matter how big the bastard, we all came kicking and screaming from somebody’s womb, and we all will end up on lifesupport in some underfunded hospital, being looked after by a (dis)orderly. I think more than that I want to convey that pathetic hope that I saw last week in my newfound native friends to the crucified man I conversed with today.

I’m drunk right now baby, but I’ve got to say – I never could tell you what you mean to me.
What’s love, but a second hand emotion?

For whatever reason, I have a deep respect for singers who are able to convey their pathetic hope through song. They say that to suffer is universal. Yet to identify with suffering, to provide hope in suffering, or just simply to acknowledge suffering as being legitimate is all to rare, especially in my context. Moreover, to recognize suffering that is brought on from your own royal screw ups, and to be offered a hand of grace to be pulled out seems to be a wisdom that is, in my surrounding, sadly not universal.

All of our questioning, every broken dream, all of the anguish that the soul has ever seen, finally finds a resting place in you…

Maybe the natives I met are pathetically realistic. I think if ever there was a group to understand what screwed over, shunned and drop kicked out of life looks like – they would. We will all break and be broken in ways that can never be fixed; and if no one has ever told you – consider yourself told.

You know sometimes baby I’m so carefree; with a joy that’s hard to hide. And then sometimes it seems that all I have is worry – and then you’re bound to see the otherside.

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