Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pharaoh's Army Got

Amenhotep II, The Pharaoh of Exodus
Pharaoh's army got drown'ded
O Mary don't you weep

- "O Mary Don't You Weep," American Spiritual

* * *

The Old Testament is a gleeful panoply of destruction, vengeance, of fucking with the wrong dude, of the mighty brought low and more terribly the righteous as well. It is the tribal promise of an eye for an eye, of promised lands that are never seen, of murder on an epic scale, of impossible rules and the stories that inhabit our Western brains.

O Mary don't you weep. We got that fucker.

* * *

Each of us is tasked with figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other, of how to move through this life. We fuck it up pretty well and sort of stumble forward trying to pick up a thread, a clean line to follow. We hold high the banner of consistency and fail to achieve it. We reach out to find some answers, something that can provide us with that sweet line and so like beggars at a feast we ingest copious amounts of other people's ideas and beliefs trying to stuff ourselves once and for all and get some goddamned answers around here. Except, we're always hungry a half hour later. Those sure answers become uncertain guesses and we stumble forward again.

Try this on: the longer you or I or anyone looks outside of themselves for answers the further away those answers become.

And this: consistency is not a primary value, but is, instead, a sign of a closed mind, and by extension, a closed off life.

That's not to suggest careening through life is your best option, but is to suggest to you fucked in the head fuckers, that life evolves, thought matures, changes with new experiences and if you think there is only one way you are most assuredly not on it.

O Mary don't you weep.

* * *

Folk cling to their guns, their religion, their stories because it is a comfort that someone else, something else has done all the thinking for us. All we gotta do is believe. And there ain't nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong so long as you actually live by it. Trouble is, most people do so only in part, the easy part, the quotable part, the showy part - never the hard part. They claim consistency, but like all us fucked fuckers, they fail to achieve it. What makes this worse is they think they are consistent and so close off their lives from the possibility of change.

But change is all we got. Just ask Amenhotep II.

Now you're really fucked.

* * *

But what about the bad guys, the fuckers who fuck with us? Don't they deserve to get drown'ded?

You bet. That's why our religions promise vengeance, why African slaves found the story of the Old Testament so vital, why any one who is oppressed or beat down understands these stories - they are a reflection of our life and times no matter what year it is.

But you, good fellow that you are, endeavoring to reach a higher ground, live a better life, a forgiving life, a life of peace, are sorely tested by the inequities that are present in every life. You desire to turn the other cheek - you've read past the Old Testament - but the sonsofbitches won't leave you alone. You want to be "good." You've chosen your story and yet, you fall short of the consistency you believe is required of you.

At this point some will opt out of all conflict. Others will opt out of all faith. But it doesn't have to be either or. When consistency means rigidity you are lost. Consistency can only be of any value if you consistently test and question yourself, your beliefs against the reality on the ground and are willing to adjust and evolve your thought so that you become more COMPLETE, more completely yourself, with all of your contradictions and inconsistencies fully integrated into how you move through this world, how you put one foot in front of the other. This is how you unfuck your life.

O Mary don't you weep no more.

* * *

Moses lead his people out of slavery. Pharaoh's army got drown'ded in the process. One tribe defeated another tribe: the arc of human history.

And who will lead you out of your slavery?

Don't worry about the Pharaohs in your life. Don't worry about their doom. Don't worry about being the agent of their doom. You have to be your own Moses. Remember, Moses offered Amenhotep several chances to avoid his destruction, but the pharaoh was utterly consistent and so was drownd'ed.

O Mary don't you weep. He earned it.

* * *




  1. Since my son was 5 years old, he has asked me to sing "O Mary" to him as he fell asleep. Clear already about the realities of the Hebrew Scriptures? Needing the assurance that the bad guys -- inability, judgement and insecurity -- could be destroyed? Maybe, and maybe he just fell in love with Springsteen's Seeger sessions version. He definitely is aware Moses stuttered, but still isn't sure about being his own. I'm clear -- on some days.

  2. Give him time. He's already got Bruce in his corner. It takes a while to understand you're the only one who can lead you out of the wilderness.