Tuesday, August 17, 2010
What's around you?
The NYC Mosque issue, Afghanistan, Wall Street reform, the Gulf Spill---all issues that get my attention. I certainly have more opinions about the news of the day, or a greater variety of what goes on in the culture (in the seven years I didn't have cable, pop culture issues were pretty minimal on my radar). Yet, rather than write blogosphere screeds meant to inflame certain of my friends and attempt to traffic in controversies, I entertain and inform with the consideration my audience is generally people I know and like, as I have not attained a high-traffic platform for drawing in strangers so much from parts unknown. I'm more likely to share with you something in the spirit of creativity or personal relationships, and occasionally, my affection for obscure comic books. I tend to be respectful and listen, but rest assured I have strong ideas about...stuff.
So let's talk about something that touches you and I more directly, less dependent on news-driven punditry and closely related to the lives we lead.
Do you find yourself conversing often with strangers? I try to obey whatever ethereal drive that leads me to start conversations, or more to the point, attracts me to the existence of those around me. I am an avid people watcher. It has saluatory benefits beyond evoking a variety of depictions in my art and writing and songs. Observation connects you with your "witness self", the observer within you. You learn to back away from the forefront of your reactions and get a fuller picture of the world in which you live.
The series of negative events that necessitated our visit to the DMV in Chula Vista today matter much less, now that Angela Dawn has her precious i.d. that will allow her to board a plane to most anywhere in the U.S., not to mention the joy that comes with no longer having to explain the ridiculous complication imposed upon her by the bureaucratic fastidiousness and asshole-ish disdain that prevented her renewal in the first place (it's about tracking number methods and how they mysteriously vary between certain counties in Georgia, and most of the rest of the nation). The point became to embrace the path itself, the journey as well as the objective.
So, we abandoned the asinine and unhelpful DMV nearest downtown and struck out for the nearest side of town with what we needed. The nauseating ride on the 929 had a few of the very minor inconveniences that, I keep thinking, would not bother me if I simply whip my body into better condition. At least I was not too big to sit in a bus seat, nothing quite like that. There weren't nearly so many stop-start incidences on the way home and we shared the flush of success (no there wasn't a pottie aboard the bus) and a warm meal in our stomachs as well.
I find the lovers and babies and small children one and elderly folks and different fashions and nice-to-delicious apparitions along the way entertaining. We both tend to enjoy a benevolence in the presence of the masses, and when one sees them all with some compassion, they do become much more interesting. You can't help feeling connected.
So Angela's luck on the written test, for which she didn't study, was not all that. I don't think she ever so much as scowled about it in my presence. She talked to babies, she conversed with other waiting young people, and really impressed me with her sunny disposition. I buried my nose in Herman Hesse's Siddharta and finally explored my two Byrne Fantastic Four comics to pass much of the time, yet she seemed, on the strength of knowing she was getting prepared to go see many loved ones and freeing herself to travel ever more in the future, content with nothing else to occupy her.
I stopped my book, finally, at the point Siddharta realizes he doesn't choose to scorn the world around him, to hate it for its illusions or diversity, all in pursuit of spiritual truth. I know that's hardly the end, that sensual materialism is another extreme one may pursue, yet I genuinely found the concept of gazing with a self-detachment and paradoxical affection for humanity and the world to ring true with my day.
I wanted to talk to the redhead with the witchy accoutrement, which I managed in small part later, but there are many reasons why a person sometimes isn't ready for extended conversation so I left her and her raven-banged boyfriend to their palm-held game. Even her I am Ozzy book didn't prove enough of an ice breaker, but you can't take these things personally. Reasons are myriad.
I did enjoy the lady with her hyper but healthy little boy beside me part of the time, and noted that my eroded Spanish skills used to come to fore in attempted bilingual conversation often. I pondered the circumstances that brought mostly first time drivers and Hispanics in the majority numbers. I thought about my days with the hostel, my first trips across the border to Tijuana, my wide-eyed naivete. I considered, throughout the day, the lovable mess of my life, occasionally suffering lack of organization and preparation, yet relatively receptive to the inspirations of the moment. Neither aspect has total control, and I in the end embrace the occasional neurosis born of being what Alan Watts called both "prickly and gooey."
The lady I offered my seat to had a lot to say about dancing twice a week and her non-smoking and non-drinking divergence from her Yugoslavian dad. Her Mom apparently destroyed a barrel of his finest vino one time, and she wondered, when the house was sold in the Great Depression for $500, what they thought when they found that shattered barrel, for such are the mysteries in the scrap of times gone by. She also believed we should all be eating more lard-based meals, as we lack vigor these days. Could be pollution, could be a lack of exercise, could be she had a point, but she was overjoyed to tell her life in the way any spry 80-ish first generation American would relish.
Long afterwards, rather than pursue my usual creative work regimen, I convinced Angela we should be walking in the sunset, and we found ourselves at Marina Park, waves lapping over the rocks assembled, the face of the bay, warrior ships and pleasure boats distant in the pleasant summer evening. I think I meant to quiet my mind as I did once in times of great anxiety, yet our thoughts of misfortunes and the hidden keys they contained, the richness of our feelings in those times, and discussions of our budding business needs and prospects seemed to flow like the ocean itself, visiting, ever cycling, from the outer reaches of Coronado Island.
Before the shades of muted rainbow vanished into the twilight, we left our watch to a mother and her tiny daughter as she dictated melodically the contents of the sky. Even our trip to Border's would see no further rush to engage our workload, though I read about meditation and embellishing techniques and tools and had a very pleasant conversation with the barrista about "spoiling" one's self with the simplest pleasures.
Of all the many laughs my happy body explored, and despite the workout plans and drawing that fell by the post-coffee crash wayside, my favorite individual memory was made crossing 5th avenue on the stop off at the Apartment of Ideas, a.k.a. home. Here we were, some four miles or so north of the Chula Vista DMV, crossing the street at the same time as the witchy pair I'd experienced earlier in the day. I increased their awareness with the off-the-cuff remark that left all of us audibly laughing down the block: "Y'all are soooo stalking us...!"