Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Day 23: When the axe came into the forest the Trees said the handle is one of us…

When the axe came into the forest the Trees said the handle is one of us…

Status: 23 Days. There is something about the prime number 23 correlating with interminable athletic achievement and unparalleled individual greatness when it comes to sports in the city of Chicago. There is the standard numerical stitch of number 23 sewn into massacring red of Michael Jordan’s jersey cosigning dual digits of immortality. There is the grace and poetic facility of number 23 Ryne Sandberg at second base for the Chicago Cubs during the 80’s, nonchalantly fielding an improbable base hit before seamlessly transitioning a double play as if pirouetting in cleats. There is number 23 Devin Hester returning a football in the opening kickoff of Superbowl XLI sprinting into the frenzied applause of the end zone.  For my beloved Southsider’s the Chicago White Sox there is number 23 3rd baseman (now coach) Robin Ventura minting golden gloves as if panning for the elusive mineral next to Jack London in Fairbanks Alaska. There was #23 Jermaine Dye’s clutch hit in game 4 of the 2005 World Series leading him to the series MVP and the Sox to their first series title in 88 years.

There is Jordan leaving, doffing the digits that heralded such hosannas, the restlessness and ache of the wandering man, retiring from his craft at age 30 shortly after the untimely demise of his father, wayfaring his way into another sport, wielding an oak sabre in front of a farm league strike zones, the perils and isolated passages of the wild man who yearns to discern the color of his own name. Who yearns to quaff from a cocktail contrived from his own sweat; to drink the angostura bitters’ of his own  blood.  Who yearns to transform and ascend and to become rather than simply to be. When Jordan returned to the game after 18 months of spiritual sabbatical he chose the number 45, the flesh of his #23 armor leering at him from a reserved shrine in the rafters, squinting , scrutinizing, beckoning. The Bulls’ failed to advance in the playoffs’ and Jordan return the next season, Superman, clad once again in his familiar cape, the numerical icons two and three superseding the sight of an imprisoned red S, the Bulls’ went on to win the next three consecutive championships with Jordan cementing his legacy as essentially the greatest of all time.
And of course, from a biblical perspective there is the 23rd Psalm and the author whose name I (at least according to my mom) made a metaphysical vow somehow to live up to.
(Emotional) physiology:  Not having alcohol in the daily dugout of my life has made me a bitter person. Not a vowel-altering better person. A bitter person. It feels like my visage should be adorned on the cover of a Penguin edition of Moliere’s Misanthrope giving the sophomoric thespian required to read the text for his intro to Theatre class the finger. Before alcohol was a social gauze. It was peroxide splashed across the emotional pangs of the fissured chest. It healed and as long as I continued drinking on a daily basis I remained in what I perceived to be optimum mental ballast. I had no remorse. The existential shredding’s of failed relationships, stalled careers, phenomenological solitude were duly supplanted by six-packs, by twelve packs, by 24 packs, by seasonal blackouts, by waking up with a hung-over carousel of canaries chirping above my forehead, mistaking a migraine for a nimbus of light.  
In Robert Bly’s IRON JOHN the ideology of the wound is seen as an imperative gift vital for growth and  imperative for the psychological gestation of exiting the alleyway of boyhood and entering the advent of being a man, or, James Joyce posits at the end of a very long book, when the protagonist of ULYSSES is drunk with the doppelgänger protagonist from THE PORTRAIT OF AN ATRIST AS A YOUNG MAN  and they leave the brother and amble home only to find themselves welded in the other recognition of the other, “The child man weary, the manchild in the womb.”
“There is no known culture or mythological tradition in which there is not a journey into the underground, into the dark cave, into the dark center of human life.”
Michael Gurian, The Prince and the King.
 In the dog-eared potbelly page-turner that is the narrative of my own life wounds that have been scabbed over through years’ of the ritualistic daily pouring’s of alcoholic ablutions are starting to appear as fresh welts. They are starting to trickle into menstruating crimson splotches of hurt. And with the voluntary absence of my beloved daily beer intake void from my life at least for now, the demons and dragons are remain a prowl pawing at the lip of my psyche with vaporous huff befogging the window panes of my dreams in an outlandish mist of paralysis.
Before if I had a tiff with a person it would be rectified following the, “Well have a few drinks, a few laughs and let bygones be bygones,” mantra. I learned a long time ago that, just as I want my reader’s to experience post-coital echelons of bliss that is the human condition using words (faithful scribe I am) that words can be used to bite, to gnaw and to wound. Twice in my life I have used words to stab, to inflict pain, the psychologically bruise, and while I was battling, swinging the sentences of my own sword to defend what I perceived to be the (solipsistic) norms of my own hurt, I inflicted substantial pain on people I care about.
I wanted them to commiserate with my hurt. My empathize with my emotions and part of me (indubitably) wanted them to bleed.    
“For a man to be truly healed he must allow something entirely different from himself to enter into his consciousness and to change him.”
There’s a wonderful scene in the bible I remember from when I was about the size of a goodyear tire attending Sunday School where, after Jesus is betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane by a duplicitous kiss, Peter brandishes his sword and starts hemming away at Roman earlobes, Christ admonishes Peter by telling him to, “put back his sword,” before healing the earless sentry and willingly going off to pursue his ordained ethos. 
There’s a lot of ways to read this but from a stimulating and enlightening Jungian perspective it reads as follows: a.) that we are often deceived by the vacuous ‘kiss’ of reckless materialism and the profligate-promises of the flesh, b.) that sometimes we are so inured we ‘lose’ our collective hearing (ie, the ear being truncated)  and that certain truths are not only difficult to stomach but hard to accept let alone hear via the pre-conditioned of our neurological synapses which  pretty much involuntarily governs the day-t-day choices that we adhere to, c.) that are first impulse when we encounter something we don’t understand is to ‘strike’ it, lancing a disparate train of thought with our own minuscule comprehension of what we perceive reality to be, d.) that we need to be deliberate in our attacks (as Rumi says, BE THAT DELIBERATE!!!) and ‘put back our sword so to speak and e.) our hearing, our senses will be spiritually regenerated, i.e., our wounds will be healed our understanding of the inscrutable pulse of this planet will be indelible enriched and psychologically augmented, and we will experience the world in a new and different way.
“The descender makes an exit— from ordinary and respectable life— through the wound. The wound now is thought of as a door.” 
                                                         --Robert Bly, Iron John
Two nights ago before the pattering arpeggio of yet another spring tempest I went to a local watering hole to hear a friend of mine sing. She has a radiant voice and she told me that she had selected two songs to sing just for me. Being 23 days abstaining from alcoholic ambrosia I no longer feel the shakes and have no problem being inside a bar and not drinking. What I wasn’t prepared for was that, when I arrived, I saw inside the bar a  metaphorical dragon, a person (once friend) who has been neo-poetically propagating uncouth and unfounded rumors  about me (sick shit. That I’m a rapist. That I’m a purported pedophile. Things are career marring and intentionally defaming and  liability pending). And while I know his foibles, am keenly aware of his own addictions, the illicit shit that he’s divulged and mired himself in over the years I had a choice make outside the bar. Do I go inside, buy a round for everyone say something flippant and witty and, while deluged in drink (and breaking my succulent 40 day odyssey), momentarily forget the scarring damage that has been done to me over the past month. Do I go inside (sober) but  wielding my verbal katana slicing into the facts, stating truisms that could essentially make the bar lose their liquor license and my friends who are tending bar lose their jobs or do I simply put back my sword and walk away.
I placed my sword back in it’s metaphorical sheath and walked in the rain, to the West Peoria hardware store (which was actually the sight of the original Haddad’s 40 years ago for all you West Peorian aficionado’s out there).
I then forked over thirty-five dollars and bought a double-blade axe.  
Because that’s what you do when you are really pissed off at someone. You traipse in the rain to the West Peoria hardware store and purchase a double-bladed five lbs. Collins axe with a hickory handle.
I then went home and went to bed.

The next day I went to my mom’s house in the country. I’ve been landscaping her back yard (am in the process of building another writing desk in the woods a la Thoreau).  My mom lives in the house that was my grandma’s house when I was growing up and the backyard is a sylvan welkin of sprawling coniferous evergreens. My grandpa had a green thumb and just plodded seeds into the scalp of the planet everywhere he lived (the bulk of Smithville rd. above the hill past the church should be consecrated as the Lloyd Von Behren arboretum)  and while the trees are stalking and magnificent vernal exclamatory boughs of botany many are overgrown and occluding light which is turning the soil and grass to shit below.
I could have borrowed my Uncle’s chainsaw but there was something about groping the stem of a double-blade axe that would serve as a surrogate sword.
I placed goggles on my head granting me the semblance of an unemployed flannel-clad hipster sporting a bad haircut in a BECK video.  As I struck the blade into the elongated neck of the conifer, flecks of bark began to spray, the scent of lumber massaged the air with the fragrance of freshly squeezed pine.  
I began to swat into the stem of the living creature with deference for the four decades it has spent granting scenery and shade to members of my family. As I struck into the interior of the tree I thought about the hurt, the weight I was ferrying. I thought about my friend who was propagating nasty rumors. I thought about the people who have financially fucked me over. The lover’s who have used my heart as a tampon over the years.
I thought about all this and, with each stroke, began saying the persons word followed by the words, “I forgive you.”
Forgiveness is easy. Anyone can forgive. Love is hard. Christ said love your enemies. He didn’t say don’t have enemies. He said have enemies and to love and accept them.
So I superseded the word “Forgive’ with the words “love and accept.” I continued to think about people I had tiffs with and I continued to tell them, while jousting sideways into the tree, that I love and accept them.
I did this for five trees and four hours, sweat cascading in beer bubbles down my neck, down my face, down my head. I continued my sideways windmill motion, swatting the sabre into the side of the tree, stating aloud that I forgive. Stating aloud that I accept.
Stating aloud that I love.

It was like I was asking the wood to take my wounds.
There’s a lot of love in this world.
There’s a lot of wood that still needs to be chopped.

No comments:

Post a Comment