Thursday, June 2, 2016

Unvisible Barbed Wire

Unvisible barbed wire all along
Around the neck of my song
Hey Romale, I'm beat up but going strong

Unstoppable fire of my tongue
And the path ahead that's long
Will get me at the end where I belong

- Gogol Bordello, Last One Goes The Hope
* * *
Bend a knee to no one.
* * *
Have you ever choked back a diatribe? Have you held your tongue because your spouse, your boss, your parents, your teachers, friends, co-workers, children, neighbors, politicians, museum docents, dolphin trainers, jai lai players, bar-room drummers, janitors, Comcast installers, gamblers, nurses, Boy-Scouts, garbage men, book store clerks, rabbis, small-town cops, and barbers all managed to take some advantage in their dealings with you: bullying, nagging, accusatory, demeaning, unthinking, thoughtless jibing, arrogant blustering, self-centered ego tripped blathering? Yeah, of course you have. Ten minutes later you've thought of the perfect thing to say, but the moment passed and the saying is never done. So you choke it down, add it to the pile of bile that has no outlet and you fuck yourself just that much more each time.

Love, bend a knee to no one.
Our habit of what we incorrectly call "decency" is, in fact, an indecent act of self-annihilation. To manage the dickheads, asshats, douche-y douchebags and the various and sundry people who have no sense of what they say and how it comes off and how it wounds, limits and bullys us into compliance and we clam up, we let the moment pass for fear of tapping that reservoir of unsaid things and losing control. Besides, we live to fight another day. But honestly, do we ever actually fight? No, we don't. The only examples we have are the dickheads, asshats and douchebags bullying and insulting their way along the road, and it isn't in us to be like them.

But, I tell you true, bend a knee to no one.
The question before you isn't will you encounter assholes and idiots, but rather will you allow them to define you and your choices?

And there is this: to resist their nihilism does not require you to become as they are, but demands that you become as you are.

* * *
It is simple to say: the only things you can control are what you think, say and do. So own it. You have no obligation to bear responsibility for the ridiculousness of others, only your own. To know yourself well enough to take no shit from anyone without becoming a shit yourself is what mastery is for.  To arrive at this mastery isn't simple, but it is direct.
Here's the dope: to get there, keep your feet moving; to get there, keep your fire alive; to get there, you'll take some beatings from others who don't get it, who want you to comply, get in line just like them, but use those obstacles to further free yourself.  Make ready by learning the contours of your soul. Learn the places where no more grief will be allowed to pass. Stand, love, stand and when challenged by a bully or a nag or a coward or a gossip or a prima donna just say, "No." Explain nothing, do not justify yourself to those who would limit you. Let your no, no more, no mas, pas plus, niks meer nie, zadna, nicht mehr, nincs tobb, nach bhfuil nios mo, non piu, kore ake stand as your final word and keep your feet moving, keep an eye on the fire and bend a knee to no one.

When you get drawn into the infernal pettiness of corporate politics, identify politics, partisan politics you cede ground and concede your integrity to their terms. You are ever fighting from your back foot and the best you can hope for is a draw. That is why you hold your tongue in the first place: you know it's futile. You've already lost before it's begun. Over time it wearies you and you forget what you ever felt so bad about.

Bend a knee to no one and you'll always know your name.
Bend a knee to no one and ask no one to bend a knee to you.
Bend a knee to no one and be free.

* * *

One last thing: there are forces you cannot control, things outside of your ability to influence - the unvisible barbed wire all along, around the neck of your song. Your task is not to undo that barbed wire, but to sing in spite of it, to move in such a manner that every act is an act of rebellion, of radical freedom that bends a knee to no one because it knows its name, its source, and where it is bound. 

The path ahead is long, love, but it will take you where you belong.

I wish you well.