Sunday, January 19, 2014

Here? Now?

Be here now. The phrase was the title of a book by yogi and spiritual teacher Ram Dass which inspired a song by George Harrison, on his 1971 album Living In A Material World. One of its suggested meanings has to do with George still feeling chained to his Beatles past and wanting to assert that he only lives in the now. Chained to your Beatles past, is that right, George? Well, I am  'here' and you know what? It fucking sucks!

If 'one is the loneliest number, then 'here' is the most desolate location. These damned gurus and visionaries do not seem to mention this! My own spirituality is Christian identification with a major assist from Buddhism. My origins are undoubtedly Catholic. My parents adopted me from a Catholic orphanage called Our Lady Of Victory. They swore to a judge that they'd raise me Catholic and went on to make sure I was baptized, received Holy Communion and finally confirmed by a real, live bishop. The bishop had blue eyes and snow white hair, thus making him identical to the Pope and most of his people, at least in my mind at the time. I thought it would be respectful to bow my head but I was reprimanded for not looking him in the eyes. Not too long after that, I achieved my black belt in tae kwon do at the age of fourteen and you could say that the martial arts replaced religion for a number of years, leaving the door open for Eastern thought but with plenty of room for Catholic guilt over replacing Jesus. It took a nervous breakdown and a hospital stay for me to return to Jesus. Doesn't it always?

So now that I have given you some idea of where I am coming from spiritually, let's return to the present, shall we? For the sake of both our sanity, I will skip the meta gymnastics that can follow our futile reliance on temporal place markers.  We can stick to 'here' being a place. That makes my Christian identification feel warm and tingly. A place is somewhere we can come from and somewhere we can go to. It really comes down to that, does it not? You just know that babies came from a place they have a strong attachment to. Fast forward to the end and this notion of place becomes essential again for both . What the hell happens in between? Don't ask me. Curl up with a good book. I have strayed far enough from my point as it is.

My 'inner child' still feels like it wants to know where everyone went. It is that place that I call 'here'. At times, life can feel like surfing the Internet. An infinite number of windows awaits but I obsessively keep track of the home page. There are people I meet that I can't even imagine how they arrived at wherever they are. Most people did not settle too far away but that is no consolation to me. Martyrs tend to be the type that venture out and find their purpose is to remind others of where they came from. While I certainly can act like a martyr, I merely brood and channel my angst like a rock star but minus the audience. This is where we can finally begin to explore why, in my experience, being here now sucks.

No one can be here but me. Does that sound lonely? You're god damn right. Sure, I have met and admired plenty who have managed to establish their locus and then cast off for exotic locales. Others travel the world in search of 'here' while some make the greatest journey of all and fall in love. Two people being 'here', now. I still believe in it. It may be all I have left to believe in.

In my last post, I expounded on that bucolic panorama in Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie, with Clark on its horizon. I may have suggested that this is where I feel I have been for some time.
My deep and personal attachment to that film aside, it may be the more recent cinematic incarnation of the original superhero that contains an accurate depiction of my disposition. In Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel, Kal El's adoptive father, portrayed by Kevin Costner, remains convinced, until his dying breath, that his son should not reveal his true nature to the world. In fact, he chooses to die rather than allow his son to do what comes naturally to him. As much as it pains me to confront this, it might be this scenario that now speaks most clearly to my present situation. Jonathan and Martha Kent loved their boy without a doubt but past a certain point, there was nothing more they could do. While I have never been inclined to learn about my birth parents, it would certainly be something to meet one of them in the form of their "consciousness", Russell Crowe's "ghost dad" if you will. In reality, that is just how the filmmakers justified more screen time for Russell. In my case, I am not holding my breath for a hologram to manifest itself and crystallize my destiny for me. If anything, I might just be still holding out for a Lois Lane to believe in me but you know what they say. I have to believe in me first, right?

How does one measure belief in oneself? I know that I have shared 'here' with others. Believe me, I can see that sharing with others is a highly preferable way to make 'here' bearable. In fact, I would say it is how humans survive regardless of what status they are born to. In turn, that may very well be why being 'here' can suck so much regardless of where that is. You remind yourself of any number of things out there that you should be grateful for but one day you realize there is a big hole in 'here'. How the hell do you fill that hole? I just so happen to have read somewhere that a certain lead singer of a certain favorite band of mine has said, on a number of occasions, that an artist can be motivated by the very need to fill such a hole. A performer may just need the outpouring of emotion from an audience just to feel like one of them, for just a little while. On the other hand, all too many have stared too long into that abyss and elected to leave 'here'.

As I wrap this up, I could easily let this conclusion do what conclusions tend to do. It is all too common and perfectly acceptable to find a way to repeat my theme of how much being here leaves a lot to be desired. Believe me, I know, I teach writing. However, I still manage to let students know of the possibility find a new direction in their conclusion. So that is what I feel I should do here. Let's confront my Superman fixation once and for all, at least as far as this blog entry is concerned. As a teacher, I have done my best to catch as many falling souls as the man in the red cape. As a man, I have fallen short of the foundation the big guy establishes for himself on top of the one his parents built for him. That is where my imbalance stems from. That is what I must work on in order to live in the material world.