Tag Archives: human

The Spiraling Cornucopia of Pale Lavender [seq. 1 – 2]

[SEQ. I]1Inside, but also outside, of the grand sweltering nothingness I do not exist. Nor am I an I. No singularities drift. 2In empty space that is not cold, a warmth suddenly envelops me and I recognize and accept that I am a thing. 3Liquid washes over my being although I do not know the word liquid because I have never known anything. The currents of motion and time push me where they wish. 4I am the first of my kind. 5Something tingles at my core and I feel a tugging and a separation of my being before becoming aware that there is another. A second presence is nearby and it is the same as me because it came from me. 6I am a singular cell. A collection of atoms. A bond of life. I am both mortal and divine. I am spiritual and temporal. I am life. The very first. 7And now there is a second, made from me. My partner was pulled from my essence and made from my content. 8We are not identical but we are not the same. 9Another spasm and then we have some company. There are four of us. Eight of us. Sixteen of us. A village of faceless, emotionless, drifting amoebas in the liquid love juice of existence. 10We are the spermatozoa in the semen of creation. 11A tail. Gills. Limbs sprout from my core. Intentional movement drags me to a mate where we replicate and create our own life. Our community calls our replication evil. Says we are dabbling in the unknown. Playing God. 12The breath of life rushes over me again and I can move faster, hide better. 13Survive in the darkness. 14Stay away from That Thing that has engulfed so many of my kind. 14Above me is a sharp blanket. It hurts my eyes to look for too long. I push towards it. Ah, yes. Light. 15The pressure of the environment pushes back against me. 16Our tribe says not to go towards it. They say that is where God lives and we were meant to stay back. If He wanted us to approach Him, then He would not have placed the pressure barrier between us. 16My body has changed and the pressure doesn’t bother me any more. 17I am curious. 18I crawl along in the shallow dirt, the light just above me calling not my name, as I have no name, but calling me. My code. 19If it is God, I want to see. I want to press upon It with my eyes. 20I press on to the light and then, like a gentle slap, my face births from the water and I understand that I am in water and that there is such a thing as out of water. 21I have been reborn. 22One step at a time I emerge from the ocean, the cradle of existence, the warm goo that is The Earth’s Womb. As I have birthed a child, so too has the Earth. 23The air is cold and a fibrous material begins to coat my body, covering me, changing my form. 24Fruit hangs from trees and I crawl up them to eat their sweetness and I look around and I see The Land stretch out in front of me in such a great distance that I become dizzy observing The Eternal. 25I hop out of the tree and my face has altered. 26In the distance I hear a noise and when I follow it with my recent eyes, I see a four footed creature behind a tree. It too is covered in brown fur but it is not like me. My stomach rumbles and I know what I must do but I know not how. 27I straighten up, accepting the task at hand. 28I pick up a stick that has fallen to the ground. I rub it against a rock until the end is sharp and I hunt. I follow the creature until I fall upon it and I stab it. 29Red life gushes out of it in currents and I drop to my knees and press my hands into the warm blood. I did this to you. You gave your life for me. I am grateful for you. 30I watch as its eyes blink, staring into the trees. I follow its gaze and see another one like it but a smaller version. A baby. 31I am ambivalent to it. 32Without waiting for my beast to die, I reach my fingers into its chest and I pull, ripping open the skin. Greasy and stinking organs ooze out of its hole and coalesce at my feet. 33What are you? What is it that controls you? 34I dig in deeper and find a hard white material. I crack it open and expose a soft beating rock. I lift it up. Here you are. 35And I smell it and I engulf it and I am filled up and the creature that is a part of this place becomes a part of me and I become stronger. 36A breeze scratches me and I find that I am cold and so I peel off the hide of this creature and I wrap myself in it, dripping blood down my naked and goose pimpled body. 37I stand above this beast and I stare at its empty shell. I stare into its hollow eyes and I send my value and worth towards it. I am grateful that it has given its life for me. It has given me food and warmth at the very cost of its breath. 38I recognize something called color and that each object in my surroundings contains variances of its own. 39In an empty field that is green and yellow, a forest suddenly bursts from the ground, not saplings but large oaks that are mature and the Earth continues to change as I do. 40It happens fast because I don’t pay attention. 41There are natural holes in the trees trunks, inverted knots, where small animals roost and nest. Creatures scurry in the branches. I see a red squirrel with a white belly and a fuzzy tail. It has big cheeks, full of food. The squirrel runs down and curls up in the hole of the tree but then the tree eats it, consumes it, nurtures itself. 41It contracts and the hole squeezes shut and I hear a crunch and a squeal and the tail of the squirrel, which is trapped outside of the nest, gives a few weak kicks and then the tree sucks it in like a dog eating spaghetti. 42I walk towards the river and I find a small raft made out of thick cut branches tied together with old yellow fabric. 43Who built this? 44Underneath the raft I find a dead and bloated body that resembles my own save for the color of the skin. Where mine is dark, his is light. It reminds me of the color I saw in the ocean, hovering above me. 45Could this be the source of the light? Could this be God? 46Has our understanding of God been wrong? 47This is a man with a potbelly. He has white hair in a male patterned type of baldness. His skin has turned into cottage cheese. His eyes used to be green but now they look like someone has poured glue over them. His fingernails are yellow and brown and caked with dirt. 48I wonder what this man’s penis looks like, mangled and gross, bloated and crawling with bugs. 49He is wearing a white shirt with blue trim. The subtle intricacies of the design are unparalleled. How he was able to fabricate such a creation sits beyond the fence of my understanding and must be a kind of divine wonder. 50I wonder what is in his pockets. I wonder who this man was. 51I hear another crunch and my senses tingle. I turn my head and see another beast walking towards me but this one is far different. It is what I will look like someday. It is what I will become. What I will change into if I am left to change. But I will not be left to change. This thing is about to take me away and show me things. 52I have been chosen. I have been chosen. 53If the others thought the bloated man was God, it was because they did not lay eyes upon the creature approaching me in grace. 54It is short and thin – its body structure narrow and delicate. It has big black eyes and gray skin. It approaches me and I see that it has a very tiny mouth. 55I wonder if it has teeth. 56It stands before me and we observe one another in silence. 57The Great Being looks at me and I get lost in those monolithic eyes. Getting lost in their darkness. Am lost. 58I want to sing their praises and write their poetry. A sense of awe pours over me and I realize how tiny I am. The Earth that I saw from the top of the tree is nothing. 59I am a speck of shit on the toilet paper of existence. And now I’m going to have my nose rubbed in it for thinking I was better than I was. Such a foolish and limited creature I am. My stupidity and primal state are embarrassing. 60I take a step closer. I could touch it if I chose. Or I could try to. 61A gentle humming that is not verbal radiates from the body and sends shivers up my spine. My penis tingles and a tear runs down my cheek. I smile and my hands clench to fists. I drop to my knees and stare up at this thing. “I love you. Please. Save me. Show me. Anything.” 62If it wanted to, it could end me. It could simply cap off my life and tear me open and wear my skin to cover its nakedness but I sense that it won’t because it has not an interest, but no need to do it. 63The holy black eye surrounds me and [SEQ. II] 1then I am standing on a craft that crawls through the blackness of space. 2I know this to be true. 3The fence that circles my mind doubles outward and I see the lay of more land. My understanding rises up out of the Earthly sludge and comprehension of things previously unknown dawn on me like the beginning of time. 4I now understand that there is a fence and that my mind can only approach the fence and that I cannot wander past it. Present, future and past tense are moot. All happen simultaneously. Language tense is invalid and lacking true dimensionality. 5All around me are greys, none of them staring, all of them observing. I am the center of naked attention. 6There are machines everywhere. And hallways that seem endless. 7I walk down one and off to the side I see a woman with the top of her head split open and her brain exposed but she is still alive. She says, “Hey, Chuck!” and wiggles her eyebrows at me in a friendly gesture. Her hair is brown and curly. The grey operating on her brain reminds me more of a mechanic than a doctor. 8He is just fixing a small problem in one of the machines. 9I enter another room that is more like a great hall and see that it is more vast than my simple field. So large that I cannot see the roof. 10Where am I? Am I not on a craft? The sky seems endless. Am I on a planet? Where have they taken me? 11The inside of the cavern glows with perfect light that radiates from nowhere. The essence of life gives light to itself. It is a light that exists at the origin of everything.

 

 

Return next Monday, May 23rd for part 2 of 10 as our adventure continues through the realms of deep space. We’ll also ground down to a small village and meet a woman who carries the weight of many lifetimes of misery. She will guide us to a community park filled with doors that lead us to the land of Somewhere Else. Fear, hope, anxiety, betrayal and escape. This is the beginning.

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The Genesis of Observation

 

In our beginning, existence was formless and empty, darkness and abyss were over the surface of the cosmos. The Observer witnessed the creation of space and time.

And The Observer witnessed a great star ignite in the abyss, burning hydrogen and creating heat. The Observer noted that with light came darkness. Millions of years passed.

And The Observer witnessed gases collect around mass and create atmosphere and The Observer noted: This will contain the elements necessary for life and will protect the inhabitants from elsewhereSlowly, the atmosphere formed. 8Millions of years passed.

And The Observer witnessed pressures underground shift the plates of the planets and the low spots began to gather water and the high spots began to gather snow if the elements allowed. 10 The Observer witnessed the formation of dry ground and the formation of seas. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good.

11Then The Observer witnessed vegetation evolve from the soil. The land produced many seed-bearing plants and many trees that bore fruit with seed within them. 12 And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good. 13 Time passed.

14 And The Observer witnessed more hydrogen atoms begin to ignite in the cosmos across vast distances. And The Observer noted that constellations could serve as signs to mark time passing from other shores, 15 and the stars gave light to the Earth and everywhere.” 16 The Observer witnessed Alpha Centauri ignite, which would warm Earth and The Observer witnessed gravity draw the moon into the orbit of the Earth. 17 The Observer noted that the moon reflected light from the sun back onto Earth at night, 18 and new evolutions began. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good.19 Time passed.

20 And The Observer witnessed the individual cells of life continue to multiply and witnessed them evolve. The Observer witnessed them divide in the water and crawl towards the land. The Observer witnessed them evolve wings to fly in the air across the sky. 21 The Observer witnessed the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it evolve, according to their kinds, and every winged bird evolve, according to its kind. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good. 22 The Observer also noted that the creatures continued to divide. 23 Time passed.

24 And The Observer witnessed creatures evolve from the sea and walk upon the land: the livestock, the creatures that moved along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind. 25 The Observer witnessed the wild animals, the livestock, and all the creatures that moved along the ground, evolve and change. And after millions of years, The Observer noted that it was good.

26 Then The Observer witnessed their brains evolve conscience and self awareness and witnessed them becoming more intelligent than their ancestors had been so that they could care for them; the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, and the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and all the creatures that moved along the ground.

27 So The Observer witnessed the creatures evolve,
with self awareness and consciousness, both sexes evolved;
male and female both evolved together.

28 The Observer noted, I hope they are kind to one another; it is a great thing to care for the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and every living creature that moves on the ground.

29 Then The Observer noted: Their bodies have evolved to fit this planet perfectly. They can sustain themselves on the vegetation of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.

31 After billions of years, The Observer noted: the machine works. Time continued to pass.

 

 

 

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The Quenching Waters of Shame

 

Let me tell you about one of the most shameful moments I have ever experienced. Let me tell you about the awful time I wanted to disappear into nothingness because I was so humiliated by my thoughtless actions. Sometimes Truth is a venom and when it works its way into our hearts it hurts fiercely but it also helps if you let it. It can burn away all the fat of reality until we experience only the kernel of humanity that is left.

Let’s begin…

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The heat in Africa is like someone holding a blow dryer in your face on a July day. It’s like eating mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs in a Jacuzzi. It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire.

 

When you get a bottle of water, you don’t sip it. You slam it. You slam it if it’s cold and freezes your throat. You slam it if it’s room temperature and feels like spit. There is no casual thirst here.

 

And now, standing in the dirt, covered by the shade of our van and wiping sweat from my face, I see Ryan, a Ugandan who’s tagging along with us, kill an entire bottle in no time flat. He wipes his mouth and says, “I know dis guy named Geronimo – he’s a big guy. Will take a whole bottle and just drop it right down his throat into his big belly.”

 

I lift the piss-warm water to my lips as my mind wanders back to America where a faucet gives me ice-cold water and I don’t have to worry about microbes giving me diarrhea and headaches. I say, “How fast you think you can slam that bottle?” Ryan shrugs and I pull the stopwatch up on my phone.

 

“GO.” Ryan kicks his head back and goes bottoms up. The clear liquid birdie-drops past his teeth and he doesn’t spill a drop. “Eight point five seconds. That’s insane.”

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He grabs a second bottle from our stash in the van and hands it to me. “Ready, Johnny?” I nod and watch his thumb hit the timer. I flip the bottle up, trying to imitate his method, but instead water jets up my nose and covers my shirt. I cough and water sprays out of my mouth. Ryan starts to laugh as I go into a choking fit. “Haha! Twelve seconds, Johnny! I win!”

 

No! I can do better! I can do –”

 

But my thought is cut short and the contest is forgotten forever as I realize where I’m standing, as I realize where I am and what I’m doing. “Maybe . . . we shouldn’t . . . do this . . .”

 

Staring at us is a small group of Ugandan children, twelve in all. Some of them are barefoot. Some of them wear shoes that are tied to their feet. One kid has a hole in his pants so big I can see his penis hanging out. Their shirts are either too big or too small for their bodies. Their skin is as dark as a plum and the dirt they are caked in is like a powder. One child has a herniated belly button the size of a kiwi. Their white eyes look at me. Look into me.

 

I’m not just in Uganda. I’m in the slums. I’m down here shooting promotional videos for an organization that houses abandoned babies, an organization that takes infants who have been left for dead inside of dumpsters and places them with new mothers. I’m down here representing them. And I’m down here representing America. And I’m down here representing humanity. And I’m supposed to be helping. I’m supposed to be in the dirt with these kids, giving them the tiniest shred of hope in their day. Earlier I was doing close-up magic—making a small coin disappear—and teaching them secret handshakes and they were chasing me around and hugging me and laughing and shouting, “Mzungu! Mzungu!”— an African term that means white traveler—and a humbling happiness came over me wherein I knew I could not help them all and I knew I could only help in this moment.

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I look at their houses and I see mud walls with tin roofs. I see a canal, an undeveloped sewage system, that is one foot wide filled with human waste running in front of their homes. I see someone from my team open up a bag of suckers and I hear 30 children scream with so much glee that at first I think someone is being murdered. The children run around waving their candy in the air and laughing. I watch a two-year-old drop his sucker in some kind of dark brown mud. I watch him pick it up, wipe it on his shirt, and stick it back in his mouth.

 

I watch the mothers look at me and I know what they are thinking. They know where I come from. They know what I have. They know what they never will. Their mats in the dirt are as good as it gets and are as good as it ever will get. There is a quiet hopelessness that my presence rubs their noses in.

 

A drunken man wanders down the street and begins shouting at us in Lugandan, the local language. I ask Ryan what he’s saying. “He doesn’t want us here. He thinks you’re going to take his picture and make money from it and he will get nothing.”

 

“Can you tell him that we’re going to take the images to raise money for the babies?”

 

Ryan says, “He doesn’t care. Those babies are not in this village. Uganda is a big place. We might help someone but we won’t help him.”

 

We can’t help everyone.

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The man disappears and comes back holding an iron rod. He cranks the volume on his voice and begins waving it around. The man gets up in the face of a local girl and begins pointing at each of us wildly. Ryan translates for me, “Why are you helping them? They are white, and they don’t care about you! When they are done they will leave and forget about you and you will still be here, poor and broke!”

 

It’s easy to paint this man as the bad guy, but the truth is that he’s spent his entire life being treated like an animal as we all come from our homes and take pictures of him in his natural habitat. He feels exploited.

 

When he’s spoken his mind, he stumbles away.

 

In a place like this – where you have so much more than everyone else, where you’re the richest guy in the room and everyone knows it—it’s easy to start thinking of yourself as some kind of gracious Mother Teresa type. It’s easy to start believing that you’re sacrificing yourself for The Children. Vanity moves in fast.

 

“I’ve come from America to save you! Do not fear, simple African people, for I have brought you the best thing I can: myself!”

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I reach out and I take a child’s hand and I look into her eyes while I wonder how filthy those fingers are. How much human excrement is on them? I say, “How are you? What is your name?” while I scan her for any cuts that could infect me with HIV.

 

I’m down in it. For tonight only. And I am helping. But not this kid. Some kid somewhere will feel the effects of this video we’re making. It will raise awareness and it will raise money and that money will help some kid. But not this one. Not any of these. And the guy with the pipe is right. When I’m done here I am going to go back to America and you will still be here. And you will still be poor and broke.

 

But I won’t forget you. He’s wrong about that.

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The sun is dropping down, and this close to the equator it only takes 15 minutes to go dark. The kids chase after us, laughing and dancing, smiling and shouting, “Mzungu! Mzungu!” as we walk to our van.

 

We get to the lot and I’m sweating. Ryan slides open the door and grabs a bottle of water, “I know dis guy named Geronimo—” And that’s how it all plays out.

 

How quickly we forget ourselves.

 

And now here I am, my eyes connecting with each one of the twelve kids. I think I know who they are and what they are. I believe that I am deep enough to understand the sorrows of their culture. And with clean water rushing down my chin and into the dirt, pooling in the dust at my feet, I realize that I am filled with more shit than the ditches in front of their homes.

 

I feel my heart break. Not for them. But for myself. I am baptized in shame. I swing my pack off and reach inside. Please, please let there be more. Please. My hand wraps around warm plastic and I pull out a bottle of water. I push through the crowd to the tallest child and say, “Are you the oldest?” and he nods. I hand him the bottle of water and I point to the crowd. “Share.”

 

Half the kids get a sip as it’s passed carefully between them, and then it’s gone and is discarded on the ground before they all look back at me. Nobody is multiplying fish and loaves here.

 

Our driver hollers. “Suns down. We gotta go.” And he means it. This is no place for a mzungu at night. I jump into the backseat and the kids all press their hands to the glass. “Mzungu! Please! They babble in their native tongue, shouting pleas at me.

 

I can’t help you.

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The engine fires up and the van shifts into drive. “Mzungu! Mzungu!” I press my hand against the glass and we start to move. I thrust my fist into my pocket. Where is it? Where is it? Hurry up! Hurry up, you fucking idiot! You fucking selfish idiot! The pocket is empty. I go for the other one—just a bunch of wrappers and lint. Where is it!? Where did I put it? There! My hand wraps around a single coin worth 100 shillings or about 3 U.S. pennies – the one I was making vanish with my close-up magic.

 

I swing open the door and reach out to the smallest kid, front and center. “Here! Here!” He holds out his hand and I drop the coin into his palm. His eyes turn into saucers. “Thank you, mzungu!” They all see the coin and they look at me and they start shouting, “Mzungu! Shilling! Mzungu!” They reach out for me, 12 dirty hands asking for my help, as the van speeds up.

 

I do them the courtesy of looking them all in the eyes as I slam the door in their faces.

 

I’m sorry. I can’t save you.

 

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