Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Faces—I have been, I am, I will be

by Bryan Merck

Kookoo, my friend from Haiti, has exported her old ways.
She collects footprint dust, hair clippings, nail pairings,
waxen kewpie dolls. She is a user of hatpins, pins with
knobs on one end. She is a chanter of blessings and curses,
a friend of many loas.

Her mythos explains good and evil and joy and sorrow.
In her world, if I am adroit, I can avoid at least egregious suffering.

But there are two in my world that remain: physical hurt, emotional hurt.
The last is the worst. Alcohol once helped.
Twice I have spent years addicted to pain meds
and benzodiazepines. It was my feelings, my rollercoaster,
sometimes hour by hour, up, down, up and down.
I lied about severe headaches. I did have some arthritis.
I lied about my level of physical pain.

For me, it is easy to believe in “the fall of man.” My will is disordered.
History declares me to be dangerous. There is a savagery in my nature.
I am the Arab slave trade. I am World War 2.

I am also capable of great love and forgiveness.
I am Nelson Mandela. I am the Dalai Lama.

I ask myself if the Catholic God’s justice is too much other, if it is just too pure
for me to understand. Can a choice I make or do not make in this brief life
affect my being for eternity? Sometimes I would choose annihilation.
 If I believe God’s ways are as high above mine
as the stars, I can better make sense of suffering.

I have studied eastern religions.
What if reincarnation were true? What is the point?
There is still some fundamental inadequacy in that universe, too much suffering,
too little chance to escape it. An endless cycle of birth and death.
The blind turtle and the golden yoke floating on an infinite ocean.
Endless karma to tote from life to life, to satisfy for.
A terrible justice to be appeased by my suffering
over aeons.
Kookoo tells me about a man in her village who was turned into a zombie.
One day he became sick and died shortly thereafter.
She attended his funeral. Some months later, he was seen laboring on a distant farm.
He had no will or volition. He did not respond to his name.

What is the cause of disorder?
Why do 99 point whatever percent of humans seek its explanation
in metaphysics?

Did I have a face before I was born?
Will I have a face after I die?

Kookoo has a potbellied pig named Henry.
Henry pees in a litter box. He opens the refrigerator door
with his snout and grazes. He sleeps with Kookoo.

Henry is basic, simple. He moves between pleasure and distress.
He seeks the former. He vocalizes both. He is an open book.
His subconscious is all about mud-puddle coolness and slop.
It, like Kookoo’s and mine, is directly connected to God.
Henry dreams in his sleep.

This morning Henry has a can of premium dog food for breakfast.
He has been in captivity since day one. As he eats, he is loose in a hardwood forest,
in the fall. He grazes for acorns under a live oak. He possesses no knowledge of humans.

In that glen, his face is always pig. There is no concept of past and future.
It has always been a pig face. It will always be a pig face. It is a pig face.
For Henry, bliss is an ongoing state of being, something in which he moves.
No catastrophic scenarios play themselves out in his mind.

Henry does not move with fear. His joy is basic.
Henry is continuous. Henry is.
Kookoo and I may or may not ever be.

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