Friday, March 18, 2011

Ain't It Strange

Ain't it strange the way we're ignorant
How we seek out bad advice
How we jigger it and figure it
Mistaking value for the price
And play a game with time and Love
Like a pair of rolling dice
So beautiful, so beautiful
So what

- P. Simon, So Beautiful Or So What
* * *
When I was a kid money was worse than scarce - it was wasted. My parents' capacity to work was just shy of limitless. They struggled and fought and dreamed and worked and kicked for every bit of purchase on solvent land, but they could never marshal the assets they had to make their lives any easier or better or less fraught with worry. They borrowed deeply against dreams without plans, just somehow imagining that briefcase full of cash didn't have more than a few strings attached. Economic apocalypse was a dog scratching at our door forever and ever, world without end, amen.

It got so they could not bear to retrieve their mail - it was simply another bill they could not pay - and it accumulated in a post office box for a week or more before they'd gather it up and then never open them up. Plausible deniability, I suppose, and the woes festered, grew limbs, sat down at dinner with us, but no one could mention the beast sitting there. The tonic was work, more work and then work some more until their time was up. My father worked in a morgue up until a month before his own cancerous death. My mother works still.

And me? I work and work and have a pile of unopened bills that I cannot bear to look at for each is an accusation - Did you learn nothing?

* * * 

We drink the wine of our own blood
  aged in the barrels of our souls.

We would give our lives for a sip of that nectar,
Our heads in exchange for one drop.

- Rumi

* * *

We are fools for ignorance and it fucks us every time. The old saw tells us a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but more dangerous is our willful ignorance - the purposeful unknowing we engage in when we know, deep down in the marrow, that we've fucked it up. Knowledge is dangerous because it makes us hungry, desiring more. Ignorance is a full belly of stupid, desiring nothing - or worse, only desiring what is at hand.

Oh, lord, God, let me starve if those are my choices.

We jigger it and figure it with self-soothing lies about what is appropriate or right or moral or possible or lace it with false humility or false pride or prideful sleep or any fucking thing that causes us to think too little or too much of our worth and so settle, like so much dust, into the corners we've chosen to lay in.

Brothers, sisters, you were made for more than this.
Knock it off.

It is a false dichotomy to choose between what one desires and to desire at all. You were born for good luck in the sense that desire is built into you the same way bones grow in you - thou art that. But desire is neither good nor evil, but how we imagine it is. Rumi tells me that what I seek, what I would give my life for, is already mine. If I already possess it, what is there left to desire? The only answer I have is this: ways to USE it.

It is the central mystery of our days that we are to act in this world; we are to be verbs - not nouns - and act, create, do while we have the time to breathe. Jiggering and figuring we have more time, or enough time, or can replace the love we toss aside, or the time we waste idling with unopened bills, with work that keeps us so busy we never think to look, but always dream things will somehow get better, or easier, or more meaningful simply because we want it is a coward's death. Wishing is not doing, neither is busy work. The true doing is drinking the wine of our own blood, our own time, our own works, our own acts.

So beautiful or so what.


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