Tag Archives: Personal

A walk in a graveyard

This little story happened during my third year in college.  It was the first year after I moved from the small commuter college to the main campus.  I was a standing Junior.  My grades weren’t great but I was passing.  I was a major in both Physics and Chemistry.  Right now to this very day that last statement sounds crazy especially since this university wasn’t particularly strong in either discipline.  It was true none the less.

I had quickly developed what was for me a large circle of friends.  We gathered a couple or three times a week for parties which were largely conversations.  Once though that first semester there had been strong drink.  That last alcohol ridden event happened later than this story.  Those conversations on occasion would turn to things spiritual.  There was a religious/new age flare to this group.  I was the only hard science or math major in the group.  One of the steady members of the group, a girl named Lisa, had a pressing interest in the world of the spirit.  She had a strong personality.  She was also an attractive woman.  My mother once described her as striking.

Almost everyday that year I walked passed the cemetery that was located near the center north side of campus.  The campus had built up around it over the years so that the cemetery was surrounded on three sides.  While it was still warm I would some times walk through following the road that entered and exited through the main drag that ran through campus.  During the warm time of year that road would be packed with traffic but by the time I left that campus through traffic had been stopped.  The problem was too, many drunken college students I think.

That cemetery had a few remarkable stones that dated back to the 1860s.  One in particular whose inscription was still clear to the eye laid flat.  I understood that this style of stone dated back to old Europe.  The stone had been laid that way so as to trap the dead within after all, we didn’t want mom or dad crawling out and wandering around.  Part of the inscription read:  She did not dieth, but only sleepth.  I though it was cool and showed it first to two of my male friends, John and William.  I think they were only mildly impressed, I mean it was just an old stone after all.  But as Halloween approached we got it into our heads that it might be cool to take the girls there, sort of as a freaky spooky Halloween walk.

I guess now that sounds a little rapey but that wasn’t our intention.  Of the six of us only two were dating.  That was John and Debra.  Calling it dating was a stretch though as she was born again and engaged.  The whole relationship would turn out to be a figment of John’s imagination, I think or a hoax maybe.

It was that dark holiday after sunset when we decided to take that nighttime graveyard walk.  It was a small party when the idea was suggested.  The event was alcohol and drug free.  It was festive.  I remember laughter.  I think I was the one who first brought up the idea saying something like “This would be a proper night for a cemetery walk.  It would soon be too cold for out door type activities.”   Someone else, William I think said something like “It is Halloween after all.”  He had this shy self deprecating smile that simply melted most girls hearts.  No one wanted to appear superstitious as we were college students after all.  Right at this second, as I write this, I believe that there were six of us but there might have been seven.  I believe I know that Donna or Laura were there but both might have been actually.

It was a warm late October night and that end of the campus was well lit so the footing was sure.  The graveyard was pretty close to the Quad were we all roomed.  It took about ten or fifteen minutes at a casual pace once we got outside to get to the east gate.  The conversation had slowed to quiet as we approached.  I don’t think there was a leader instead the course was chosen in some way that was quiet and almost organic.  In the beginning we stayed on the paved road that made a safe path through the oldest part.  This is were John had an attack of apoplexy over what he thought was a set of satanic symbols.  I can still here his hushed voice ridden with fear uttering the phrase “Satanic sigil!”  It is comical now but at the time I remember the icy chill that jumped up my spine when he spoke.  It took me about three minutes to cypher, in the dark, that the symbol was an eastern star.  I come from a family with a few masons as members and have a great aunt that was at the time in some sort of a weird dispute with the eastern stars so I felt reassured.  I remember the sound of my voice, the ridicule and sarcasm as I said, “Geez John, that’s an eastern star.”  I regret that tone today.

We didn’t have a path planned.  It was really more of a wandering that an established expedition.  John was at the front with Debra on his right and Laura, I think, on his left when he stepped into the graveyard proper walking in between the plots.  William, Lisa and I followed with Donna I believe.  I have a superstition.  I have had it since my first funeral at the age of 6.  I don’t like stepping on people.  Yes I know they’re dead and can’t feel it but I still don’t like to do it.  I might have said something to the effect, “I hate stepping on people” or something like that.  Being that this was the case I moved a bit slower.  It took time to pick your way through a graveyard with this type of a mind set.  William, Lisa and Donna stayed closer to me as the distance between us and the first three grew slowly.  Come to think about it now, the clusters of three up front and four in the back must have been for security or reassurance.  I think that graveyard walk was a lot more tense that it appeared to me at the time.

The Rec center some 20 or 30 yards to the east was well lighted and the main drag through campus was also well lighted.  This meant that the little road that traveled through the campus end of the cemetery was well lighted through there were areas of dark.  When John decided to walk between the graves and deeper into the cemetery to the north the light became patchy at best.  I mean that if you were walking you could find safe footing but there were lots of shadows.  The two groups, John, Debra and Laura up at the front and the rest of us some 20 feet back were having our own individual quiet conversations.  This created a quiet comfortable human murmur but I wasn’t really paying attention.   I was concerned with the people that lay under ground and not stepping in them.

It was nothing more than dumb luck really with the light like it was and my superstitious distraction.  The light had to be just right and the timing of when I looked up.  It was freaky really even when I think about it now.  What are the odds?  For as I looked up I saw two things almost simultaneously.  The first thing was Debra and Laura.  They said nothing.  They didn’t scream.  They simply turned around and took off at a full sprint.  I have never seen anything like that before or since until the moment of this writing.  There was no gaining speed they started at top speed.  The second thing I saw was John looking over his shoulder with a puzzled expression.  He was in mid stride his left foot heading for the ground.  The light must have been just right for there was no ground where John’s foot intended to land.  Instead there was an open grave.  William and I each caught one of the girls.  It was like being struck by a medicine ball.  If either of us would have been a shade smaller the impact would have winded us.  At the same moment I yelled at John, “OPEN GRAVE!” 

The warning shout was enough and John avoided stepping into the open grave.  He could have seriously injured himself.  He quickly joined the rest of us.  Honestly, at that moment, I don’t think any single member of the group wanted to be very far away from the rest.  That put a chill over the party I must say.  I remember some one saying over and over something close to “Please be empty please be empty.”   This phrase seemed to affect everyone.  She, who I believe was Debra, was pretty upset.  So was Laura but she simply huddled close to William like a soaked little bird seeking shelter from the rain against the bowl of a tree.  A that moment I determined to check the hole out and quickly walked up to it and crouched down and looked inside.  If the image of skeletal hands reaching out, grabbing me by the head and pulling me in just flashed through your mind’s eye that’s okay because it flashed through mind both then and now.

“Its empty,” yelled over my shoulder to the others.

I stood up quickly and walked back to the others before any had the opportunity to examine the grave themselves.  I carefully and quickly informed them again that the grave was empty.  They or We were all shook up pretty good.  Debra and Laura had become obviously quite uncomfortable.  John also had taken a pale hue and seemed suddenly less excited about the whole idea.  I didn’t wait and suggested that we head back to the dorm.  I don’t recall if  that night was ever mentioned again by any of us.  Well except me, right now for I have kept it secret over these last 33 or 34 years and that secret is, the grave wasn’t empty.  Only Meta had heard this story -previously and now you know it too.

Happy Halloween

Battle with Big Mac

Here is a weird little story.  It takes place in a McDonald’s in the fall (I think) of 1988.  This would be the fall after college and I parted ways and a month or so before my mother’s passing.  This would be when I worked night maintenance.  That’s was what the job title was though the work itself was much closer to Custodial.

Generally the shift was third and it started at 11 o’clock at night and ran until round 7 am the following morning.  The company liked to keep two maintenance men on the overnight shift for safety reasons.  This McDonald’s wasn’t in a high crime area.  It was on the south side outskirts of a rural college town in North West Ohio.  In the 1980s this campus had the second highest student population of any university in the state coming just after OSU.

I remember watching an occasional drug deal go down in the parking lot out front of the restaurant.  This would usually happen between 3am and 5am when the cops would head over to a Frisch’s on the east side of town to hang out.  This would be a perfect spot to make some joke about donuts but this was back when Frisch’s still made really good cheap food.  I remember this strawberry pie that was to kill for.  I remember it as “Home of the Big Boy.”

Also on those dark winter nights when I would take the trash out to the compactor there would be on very rare occasion a homeless person or two.  That was back when McDonald’s still used Styrofoam packaging on most everything and when they still had strict practices on how fresh the food had to be.  Once a Sandwich of any kind was produced it could only sit for so long before it was required to be pitched.  I don’t remember if it was 8 or 10 or 15 minutes.  So the food in the dumpster was pretty edible.  Generally when I encountered these people back in the coral where we kept the compactor I didn’t mess with them.  It might be tense for a couple of minutes before it became apparent that nobody wanted any trouble.

Like I said earlier, McDonald’s liked to have two men working the graveyard shift and that is how it was for slightly more than half the time I was working there.  It had one odd feature though that I had not seen since I was a child.  It was a life sized plastic Big Mac.  I think he was supposed to be some kind of a police officer, sheriff or constable.  It stood on a plastic platform that was green and meant to look something like grass, if memory serves.  He wore this English Bobby looking police hat/helmet on the very top of his head.  The whole thing was just a hair taller than I was.  I stood a bit more than six feet and four inches tall.  There was this metal button, really the head of a bolt that at one time, when touched, would cause a recording of the character saying something stupid like “Don’t forget to eat your fries” or some other shit.  I had been told, though I don’t remember by who, that it was broken.

It was during a time that there were only two people working night maintenance so each of us worked the shift in the store alone for two nights a week.  I don’t exactly remember the time of year.  My memory of that time is funny that way.  It could be a trick of memory or a trick of schizophrenia I Have no idea which.  I want to say that it was the fall but it just as easily could have been some time during the summer.  Right this instant, as I right this sentence, I am leaning towards summer.

I was in the store alone, it was late around 4 am in the morning and I was mopping the floor in the lobby.  I had worked there for several months by now and I was very comfortable in the store.  My mind wasn’t on my job.  I had turned my back and was walking backwards across the main lobby towards the side lobby that extended to the back where the bathrooms were located as well as Big Mac.

Somebody spoke.  I was involved in my own mental world so I didn’t here what had been said clearly but I did jump.  I had a strong chill run down my spine.  My first thought was that some one who worked at the place was playing a joke.  The manager would, on occasion, after being out bar hopping, sneak in and up on us to check and see if we were working.  It could have been him or any of the three or four people that had a key.  My second thought was that it was an unknown person with ill intent looking for some kind of advantage.  So I decided to walk around the store with mop in hand.  After making a full circuit what was fear had begun to morph into something more like rage and on my second pass I made sure that I was always between the space I was exploring and the way out.  I was still alone.

This would happen a couple more times.  It would be the second of these times that I would be down by Big Mac washing the windows in the exit door we it would pipe up again.  It said something like “watch out for the Hamburgler,” or some other shit.  I jumped nearly toppling the wash bucket turning and looking directly at the giant plastic Big Mac.  The mystery had been solved.  I moved my hand like I was about to punch the big dummy when I thought better of it.  He looked back at me those three buns and two delicious meat patties forming a dark evil grin.  The two plastic white and black cartoon eyes perched at the top of the sesame seed bun leering and taunting me.  It occurred to me that Big Mac only mouthed off when I was in the store alone.  I wondered if I had lost my mind.  He would only pipe up and sound off one more time after this before I decided to investigate.

One night when Ken the only other member of the maintenance staff and I were together working that I brought the subject.  I said that I was curious and I wanted to ask him a question.  He said that I should and I asked directly whether or not Big Mac was popping off while he was in the shop alone at night.  He said that it had.  Armed with this information I waited.  I didn’t wait for long before Big Mac popped off again one night.  How could such a scrumptious sandwich be so evil?  I told the manager about the incident.  He responded by saying something like “Its your imagination, that thing is broken.”  Ken backed me up with out prompting.  The manager said that he would get it fixed.

The fix didn’t take and Big Mac continued to mouth off.  It was like he was laughing at me.  I told the manager that there was still a problem and he said that he would take care of it.  This went round and round, Big Mac would taunt me and the Manager said  that he’d look into it.  It was getting frustrating and irritating until the last night and the last straw when I was mopping down the side lobby.  My back was to Big Mac the hamburger headed mother fucker when he popped off again.  I swear it said something like “What are YOU gonna do?”  It was laughing at me.  I know it was.  I jumped.  It had happened so many times and I couldn’t get over the fact that the damned thing still made me start.  I caught myself, the mop handle had almost made contact with that great evil hamburger headed monster but I managed to pull back.  That morning the manager was there at open and I told him about the incident.  The repeated that he would have somebody look into it.  I realized that this was a story, a fiction.  I responded that it would be good if he did.  I clearly stated that the next time that thing started talking in the middle of the night the fair manger would find it in pieces in the parking lot when he came to work the following morning.

The next night when I rolled in for work I discovered that Big Mac was gone.  Plastic green grass like platforn and all.  That was the end of Big Mac.  I had won the battle.  I didn’t need to fire a single shot.  Even in the darkest of times small victories always taste sweet and refresh the soul.

One last thing though, Big Mac only every talked when either Ken or I were in the store alone and as far as I know no one else ever had that experience at that specific store.

It is quite strange really.

Giggler

Sometimes when I speak

the words come into the world easily

with clarity

Other times they hit the air in a rush like Jetsam

on a rushing river

and Yet again these statements seem to hit the atmosphere

like a meteor from Pluto

I find as I get older that it becomes more difficult to self censor

It could be a lack of energy

a weird exhaustion

or maybe I no longer care

I don’t think it maters

I’m just a squatter

on this rock

Strange as it maybe I find that I crave silence now more than ever

It was a learned thing

silence

My words out of place

out of step

drew narrowed eyed glances

side wise stares

there was something strange there in those others’ gazes

as if they beheld something alien or irritating

It’s me, I tell myself

my eyes my senses that are the foler

The trickster

Still I try to conform

to simple social norms

Over the years I have gotten better at it

Until

I relax

I speak

The words make sense to me

But for the listener, for the outside there is a shock

They seem as it they had been struck

by a board

the sudden realization

That the label really belongs where it has been stuck

That I am a giggler

I snuck through

camouflaged

But now with age

That thing that caused me ebaressment

that label of shame

now produces cosmic hilarity

I don’t know,

I guess you had to be there

 

Does Justified Equal Moral?

Objective and Subjective are such strange phenomena.  They seem so simple, separate and obvious.  I vaguely remember when I started to become aware of the the way the two very different realms of reality began to bleed together and obfuscate each other.  It was a slow process and it had an element that I could only call seductive.  I think I was largely lucky and nothing more than that because I caught it before it caught me.

I began to have strange experiences when I was 13 years old.  I freshman was  high school when I started to see my first occasional shadows.  They came at times of severe stress generally when my family was having some kind of a problem.  Mom and Dad were going through a bad time in they’re relationship and they were fighting once or twice a week, sometimes more often.  I cannot ever remember these times resulting in violence b ut I do recall sitting in the shadows at the top of the front stairs to the second floor listening.  I rarely slept as it was.  These shadows started to appear late at night in my bedroom on the walls or ceiling.  They didn’t have any particular form although my mind was capable of seeing some kind of a shape.  The experience was intense, I was alone at night when it happened and it was frightening at first.  I told no one about these things.  Over time gear changed to curious and then finally I felt a strong urge to protect myself.

I was raised catholic and I remember praying to God for help, but God did not answer.  This caused my stress to increase.  I had been reading my school assignments.  I read some political books my mother had given me, books I still have and Pulp Fiction for leisure.  Feeling abandoned by God, the increased stress and the intense sense that I was under some sort of spiritual attack I decided to meditate.  In these meditations I went inward and started to listen to my own thoughts.  I also learned to feel and relax my body.  If I focused on anything it was to try astral projection but that never happened.  There was a part of me that truly believed that this was a spiritual phenomena and I still think it is easy to see why.  At the same time that another part of me thought that it had to be something else, something with a scientific explanation.  The spiritual aspect was extremely seductive.  It felt good to think their might be something extraordinary about me.  That’s the seduction and if it was true I wanted to understand it from what I took to be an objective point of view.  Thus my reading changed.  I started reading out side of school nonfiction, psychology, philosophy, physics, biology, mysticism and the occult.

I still kept this a secret but when I asked my Mother to find something for me, on any particular topic she would get it for me.  She was an RN but she had close friends that worked at NASA.  I didn’t ask often, which I regret now and I never told her why.  I think she knew something was going on but she didn’t ever press it.  I didn’t talk to my father or ask him for books and such because at the time he didn’t strike me as the type, a thing I also regret now the he too has passed.  At the time it struck me as the kind of thing one didn’t bring up in casual conversation.  I felt there might have been negative consequences.  IN retrospect I realize that this was an assumption.  It is true that ridicule was likely but not guaranteed.  It was at the age of fourteen that I first read General Relativity: A theory any man can Understand. I remember thinking that Einstein must have had a strange idea about what any man was, but I did take something away from the effort.  The World you live in is dependent on your perspective, your frame of reference.  The way the world looks, how it feels and smells is all dependent on your inner world.  Its more than attitude.  I fully realized that this wasn’t what Einstein meant by “frames of reference in motion.”  That’s just what I took from it.  Correct or incorrect it didn’t matter as the experiences began to fade and I became more relaxed.  By the time I graduated High School I only had memories of the original experiences left and you all know how funky memory can be.

My Mother always regretted that she didn’t try for medical school.  I remember her saying that she didn’t think it was possible as no one told her she could.  So she made sure to tell all three of us that we could do anything we wanted to do.  I feel to this day that she really believed that and so did I.  Its in this way that the pendulum swings from far on one side to way far on the other side.  Otherwise I was woefully unprepared for college.  I made the mistake of thinking it was just an extension of High School.  I also chose a hard science major, Physics and Chemistry.  My private readings had shifted more towards history and the Occult.  I had taken an interest in perception, with the physical senses.  I was taking psychology on the side because I was interested in it and was unaware of the fact that it wouldn’t count for any of my electives.  Like I said, unprepared.  That was the first blow to my world view.  How can Science be objective if the very tools we use to observe, our senses, are subjective in nature.  Nobody likes to hear that and sometime they get really offended when I bring it up in causal conversation.  I’ve been yelled at about it rather than given a constructive counter argument.  I must have struck a nerve.  I know I found it unsettling.

I started my collegiate journey at the local community college.  That was where I encountered the notion that we are only front of the mend aware of about 1% of all the information our Brain (?) processes.  Discomfort changed to fascination and curiosity, you know, the thing that killed the cat.  College was a more open environment.  There was always some one talking about the stranger things.  While I was at the community college I listened more than I spoke.  I tend to be more or less silent in new places until I get comfortable.  There was topics like Mysticism, the Occult and various subjects from the worlds of New Age and Paganism.  This would continue at main campus when I made the transition.  There I had a broader circle of friends, some old many new.  It was there that the shadows returned.  Maybe it was a stress reaction as the subject matter I was studying had increased in pace and difficulty.  It might have been that I was over complicating the whole mess.  It also could have been that I was undermining my subject matter subconsciously while I was trying to master it.  I can’t really say for sure.  The shadows though no longer inhabited the night, they now came out in the light, in crowds and in small groups.  I began to watch the people around me as these odd shadows crept across the floor.  I wanted to see if any of them noticed.  None of them ever seemed to or if they did they in now way acknowledged it, I though of it sort of like living right next to train tracks.  The first few days you can’t help but notice the trains as the pass, rattling the apartment and waking you in the middle of the night.  But in a short time you no longer notice.  I thought this might be the thing with the shadows.  Of course there was always the possibility it was some sort of mean trick or twisted practical joke.  There is danger in these types of thoughts, I understand it now but at the time it was truly a mystery. The shadows looked so real and I couldn’t figure out how they were being cast.

I was sleeping less and meditating more.  My mind was getting noising and fucking with me, causing me to react in ways I didn’t understand and didn’t like.  I felt I had to get on top of this thing before it got on top of me.  So the meditations became about quieting my mind.  I was looking for something Carlos Castaneda called internal dialog.  The mind talks to itself it seems, not that unusual of a concept I thought.  I found myself in a small experimental group.  I was gently nagged into it.  We started with the Ouija Board and moved on to ghost hunting and other stuff.  I was the baby sitter, for the most part, watching to be sure things didn’t to far out of hand.  Emotions and moods can run high and become unpredictable in these types of circumstances.  A lot of baffling, weird and frightening stuff happened.  Now I wonder if I unwitting contributed to it.   Shadows became things, demons mostly.  I started hearing things.  Voices and clear words.  There was no murmuring and whispering to start, just voices, some familiar, some not, almost all of them unpleasant.  One might say the the occult experimental group and the change in the visions and the appearance of voices are some how connected.  I can understand that.  There was something about these visions though that was different, they had a two dimensional quality like a movie.  That didn’t change the way my body reacted to them.  The same physiological sensations as if one is surprised or about to be attacked or even shot at.

The things about running head long into one’s limitations is that the experience is most profound when the individual doesn’t believe thy have any limitations.  The experience can be crippling.  Needless to say college and I filed for divorce.  The hallucinations and voices only became louder and more present.   Even people I knew, except for two, would change, growing horns or taking on a demonic visage.  I would begin to worry that I had said or done the wrong thing and upset people.  I did seek treatment.

People tend to project onto other people their own experience, their own frame of reference of world view.  I became aware of this by accident, I guess.  Along with the increased psychotic symptoms there was also a growing, burning rage.  I was keenly aware that I might hurt some one and I didn’t want to do that.  It was becoming very difficult to baffle that surge of energy.  Part of me felt that the person about to take the brunt of it deserved it, they had it coming.  My mind had constructed the argument all based on several assumptions about their motives and their moral inclination, whether they were good or bad.  It was my realization that these assumptions might be wrong, they were assumptions after all, beliefs shouldn’t be confused with facts.  That baffled the rage and gave me the time to deal with it.  I still paid a price, high blood pressure.

It is uncomfortable, but true.  We all drink the Kool Aide.  Often we don’t even know its Kool Aide and can’t discern who’s is filling our cup.  That is the nature of the drink.  IN a time with the reemergence or various ists and isms, though the on fringes it is good to be aware of the certainty that comes with that cup of Kool Aide.  Humanity suffers from a terrible form of moral relativism.  We understand that a action is immoral, such as beating some one or killing them.  We all get this.  Yet that damn Kool Aide helps to create an illusion of some great threat, a threat that must be confronted violently.  This logic often has an appeal to vanity and fear.  Once the point of view sets up like concrete then the actor is justified.  If an opponent used the same tactic then its is simply more proof of their villainy.  Dynamics like this have a way of becoming self perpetuating.

There was a time when I believed that if everyone would just settle down and try and talk to each other that this friction could be eliminated.  I was young and Idealistic.  Through dealing with the hallucinations I realized that some things or people will simply resort to violence.  There will be no discourse.  It is impossible for me to tell who will be and who will not.  I am at an impasse.  What to do in such a situation?  Resist Violence with violence and risk becoming that which you fight.  React peaceably and passively and run the risk of being crushed under foot.  It will either be just a short period of a few years Nothing at all.  or the beginning  in a shift in the moods of populations everywhere.

When I called out to the divine in my youth I felt I got no answer, He or she, didn’t come, didn’t appear in my heart.  I had always assumed that I had been abandoned.  Maybe I have.  Or, Maybe the Divine came to my aid.  Just not in a way that I could see or feel.  I don’t know how I managed to navigate all that.   We human’s so desperately crave objective validation.  If it was just luck I think I’ve blown probabilities out the window, not that my thoughts on the subject matter all that much.

In the end its simple faith, not in a book, or a place or a gender.  The Divine is alien to us.  I don’t know how it works,  I don’t know what it is.  It simply is.  I try to listen for the sound of it.  I make the effort to treat each person as an unknown until I know them.  Respect is nothing more than simple manners.  It is not torture, it doesn’t take extra effort.  You just have to slow down and try and see clear and straight.  So if you feel the current begin to drag you in a new direction remember to taste the Kool aide before you drink  We may not be able to change the world but we can change the way we interact with it.

If you got all the way to here, I thank you and hope that it wasn’t too difficult of a read.

Have a better than average day.

Yet another Adjustment

There is a beginning to these things and this beginning is a type of back story or an ethic if you prefer.   At its heart it the idea of a great quest.  A Great Quest is a concept one might encounter in a common novel of the fantasy variety.  I an sure that it occurs in other places as well but I have no examples that stand out in the front of my mind.

A great quest can be as simple as a journey through dangerous country or saving the princesses from a band of highwaymen and it can be very complicated like building an empire, discovering some long lost artifact or rediscovering some bit of knowledge that has been long lost. All of these are similar themes that run through many a story but the idea itself is not that foreign to our daily lives in a non fantastic context.  It is important to note that the Great Quest is not limited to fiction.  There are Great Quests that happen here and now in our shared reality, maybe not as glamorous as rescuing the princess but great none the less.

For instance, going for a higher education beyond a Bachelors for the sole purpose of gaining insight into a thing that is otherwise incomprehensible to you.  This could take a life time and odds are their isn’t a weekly paycheck in it for you, not that you can’t turn that knowledge into cold hard cash its just that the process is different.  A cashless journey to a far distant land and staying for a year, a life time or somewhere in between, even raising a family and keeping said family together is a Great Quest.  For myself the Great quest was knowledge, it was the world I wanted to understand, the human condition and why reality was the way that it was.  This great quest had two lines of attack, one the hard sciences and the second, the occult and mysticism.

Now that I think of it that probably should have been my first warning there that odd combination of seemingly incompatible fields of study.  To me though it made perfect sense as I had extrapolated them from a quote attributed to Carl Gustave Jung, “Psychology and physics are facets of the same concept.”  To me it seemed only natural to infer that Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, the Occult and Mysticism were all facets of the same concept, in this case human consciousness or humanity itself if you like.  Of course there will be time management issues but I felt as I slept very little that I should be able to manage.  I had contingency plans if something got derailed or if funding dried up or even if I needed to transfer schools in mid stream.  What I didn’t have contingency plans for was failure.

It has been said, by my Action Theory Professor that one cannot plan to fail.  One might argue that a contingency plan is a way of dealing with failure but I think these plans are for foreseeable obstacles and away of planning to succeed.  The Great quest is very much like a horse pulling a load.  Horses in this case often wear blinders.  These are used to keep the horse from being spooked by the various happenings around he or she.  People on the great quest also wear blinders in this case allowing them to concentrate full energy on the goal before them.  The down side to this is that when an event comes out of left field you don’t see it until just a fraction of a second before it makes contact.  This spells disaster and that disaster, in my case, was a mental breakdown.

I distinctly remember the sensation that all of that knowledge in Calculus, Wave Mechanics, Differential equations and Organic Chemistry stood like a house of cards built on shifting sands and when it collapsed it took a great deal more with it.  I was aware that I wasn’t going to be able to proceed into the Masters program right away, that I would need experience so that I might reinforce and strengthen the shaky knowledge I already had but at no point did I think I was crazy.  The thought never crossed my mind.  I entered the work force with out my degree thinking that in time I could go back and finish, the thought of collapse still hadn’t crossed my mind.  The hardest thing was the realization that the goal I had been working on since the age of 12 was now unobtainable.  That all that time and effort had made little or no difference and that not all problems could be overcome or goals achieved through nothing more than hard work.  Reaching this realization though would take some years.  I just couldn’t keep from continuing the act of pounding my head against the wall.  I think it was those blinders that kept me from grasping the reality of the situation more quickly.  In a weird way it was like suddenly finding yourself in prison, through no fault of your own and in this case the bars of the prison were your own mind.

What to do?

Everything had changed.

Rage was beginning to build.

I could plop down in front of a television and booze it up until I died.  Lots of people do that or something a kin to this each year in these days of late.  This is not new, people have been drinking themselves to death forever it seems, now its prescription drugs.  The difference is just the age.  I had to redefine myself.  I had to give up the great quest and turn it it into a hobby of sorts, something of a passing fancy I could dip into on rare occasion.  But that was only part of the solution, I also had to find something to do with myself, something I enjoyed.  This was very difficult.

In reality it comes down to how we define ourselves.  Many of us define our self by the Great Quest, or possibly a job description and even that we are a parent or wife or husband, when we lose this key definition, an idea so deeply entrenched in our minds and for so long that we aren’t even aware it is there.  It is a large part of who we are.  When this is gone it puts us at a loss.  We have a definition of ourselves that has been removed from our existence.  Finding a new direction is practically impossible without first realizing that underlying definition.

I can’t tell anyone how to do this, I don’t think there is an expert out there that can.  This is one of those instances where our individuality is most apparent.  We are peculiar beings.  In the end all I can do is point out that it needs to be done but I have no idea where the guideposts are or what they say.

To anyone going through something like this all I can do is wish you God Speed.  The only advice is introspection and perseverance.  The only wish…

Have a better than average day.

Meta Mumbles on about a family pet named Chico.

While I was in grade school my grandparents had a rhesus monkey – there were times that they entertained the monkey, Chico, by sitting up a card table in the center of their living room and putting out on it a Sears and Roebuck catalog.  They would leave it there with the pages open.  That was a time when all sorts of things were for sale in their Big Book.

We would all sit around the room talking and watching the monkey browse through the pages.  He would turn each page and then carefully spread it out flat.  Then he would sit with his hands folded behind his back while exploring all of the photographs before him.  He would slowly look first at the left page from top to bottom and then the right, while chattering the whole time.

When Chico would come to the part where various breeds of dogs were pictured, he would get so excited that he sometimes flipped over backwards while he seemed to laugh – out – loud.  Then he would point to the family dog, Beau, sleeping at the feet of my grandfather.  Beau would quickly respond and go to the edge of the card  table poking his nose up by the monkey.  Chico would start pointing to a photo of one of the dogs, the breed would not matter, then point directly at Beau – back and forth his finger would go – apparently he recognized that they were all dogs – while laughing the entire time.  Beau would get excited and it seemed obvious to us, at the time, that they were communicating in humor.

And we want to think that we are the only ones that can make our thoughts known to each other.

Mother and Materialism

Every cloud has a silver lining, they say.  My mother passed a few months after my 24th birthday and I think that I have finally sound something of a silver lining.  My Mother didn’t live long enough so that I could truly be a disappointment to her.  That sounds petty dark.  I think I had disappointed her quite a bit while she was alive, the operative word being think.  Judgements about this or that will fly through various minds at such a statement but there it is, I wrote it.

The thing is, though, that I am only going on her expression as I can’t recall her ever actually saying such a thing to me.  Other’s may have said it but in the strictest of terms that is simply hearsay.  It is a strange thing to rethink and reflect on judgements we believe were made about us for which we have no proof and the weight they carry.  I stopped wishing I could call her and ask her many years ago because I saw no use to it.  IN the best terms it was somewhat masochistic.  It is just a thing that I will never know and I have come to peace with that.  One thing though that I do remember about Mom was her love of numbers.  I don’t mean Math, I mean numbers.  If you could put a number to it then it had to be true.  A strange conclusion for a woman who avoided doing math.

I wonder what she would think about Scientific Materialism and Genetic Determinism?

Maybe it is just the programing on YouTube that I watch or the occasional website I visit but I have been beginning to get the impression of how quickly science, theory, practice and imaging has been progressing.  The idea that our decisions are made deep in our subconscious quite sometime before we are actually conscious of making the choice.  Fantastic.  The understanding of brain physiology and mechanics has gotten to the point where some think that a new form of flawless lie detector is on the verge of beginning created.  Amazing.

The idea of materialism in this sense is the notion that self awareness is an illusion and I can’t say that it is not.  I can barely understand the concept but then  it is an illusion that might make a master illusionist jealous.  As wacky as this will sound this is how I understand this illusion we call consciousness:

Bundles or groups of neurons cluster about memories with some type of causal connection.  This causality isn’t as defined in the sense of the physical sciences for in the mind even an imagined causality is real.  These memory clusters are emotionally weighted, there are many emotions and many degrees of weights.  The driving force is much like a random numbers generator mixed in with electrochemistry (neural transmitters) and buffers (salts in solution).  This provides the energy to the system and scattered all about are logic gates, any one familiar with electronics or even set theory will get this.  So two hemispheres at relative odds with each other both chock full of clusters of memories causally related emotionally weighted, random number generators splashing out a jolt of electric here or there and when a key tipping point is reached the logic gates are employed and TA-DA! Art, Music, political discourse or even violence and of course science.

As silly as this may seem to some there may very well be some truth to it and this truth has to be considered.

It is those damn numbers after all, even the mathematically illiterate put considerable stock in them.  It is one of those acts, strictly on faith that boarders on religious.  Religious as in to repeat on habit, without true understanding.

It could be a wonderful thing in a way.  In the past we killed each other because we belonged to different tribes, different religions, different kingdoms, empires, nations, political ideology, economic ideology, skin color, governmental system or even because the people at the bottom wanted to organize for their own benefit.

Since we are all the same, mindless soulless blobs of polymers none more or less human than the other than all that violence should be coming to an end, maybe even in my lifetime, shouldn’t it?

In all of our scientific excitement and social hubris I can see an old well trodden road clearly before us.  There are other paths but this road is familiar, it feels right and we all know where it leads.  Its course has changed some, there has been recent rerouting and resurfacing and it calls to us.  After all, if all we are is genes and polymers and a few inorganic compounds how bad would it be, I mean on the moral scale, to eliminate those undesirable genes?

Death camps, right?  That isn’t what I am talking about.  I’m talking about snipping here and sticking together there and for those of us who can’t adapt, you know make a nuisance of ourselves then there is medication and for the truly non-rehabilitateable there is prison or maybe a nice island somewhere after they have been properly sterilized.  This is no where near as brutal as past occurrences.  After all it is for the betterment of the human species.  Maybe this is true, maybe it is for a higher quality future so long as we don’t snip away the parts that make us human.  What are those things anyway, those things that make us human?

The issue isn’t intent or motive.  The issue is people, people in power.  IN this case scientific power, the belief that if something runs a foul it can be fixed or simply closing their eyes because they have bills to pay too.  These are the words to watch out for, “You have to trust me, I’m a professional.”  I only had to hear that phrase three times before I stopped asking questions.  Do we really have any choice anyway?

I haven’t made up my mind on the thing.  I don’t really know what to think about it and I am not trying to tell you that you should care one way or the other.  If you want a smoke then smoke, if you want to go to a protest and organize then do so, if you want to game what are you waiting for, other than theft and murder if it feels go to you do it, consenting adults of course.  Whatever it is you choose to do all I ask is that you keep your eyes open and watch your feet.  Otherwise the walk can turn into a climb and before you know it you will be at the very top of a tree from which you can not easily climb down, then your only choice will be to jump.

I don’t know if my mother ever thought something as innocent as an IQ test could lead to something like this.

Just sayin’