I Am One and Many

When we are at home with ourselves, peace finds a heart in which to grow.  It is a light we can share, compassion. So much fear is projected onto the “other” that hate spreads like a contagion on the news.  It just doesn’t stop, that heart numbing chatter, the internet offering images of school shootings and cute baby animals in the blink of an eye. Imagine you were a peaceful space explorer who tuned in to the projected psychosis of the human mind via waves of social media.  Would you stop?

Bowie_TMWFTE The ego’s job is to stake out territory we describe as “me.” Sometimes, that’s all we see.  Yet, I AM. Not the giant Me, the human being (I) of which we are all members.  It is not an exclusive club; we are one in space and time.  And I would argue, we all add to the human experience, transcending time.  Sociologists have debated the pros and cons of “The Social Organism” for centuries. MIT has a Center for Collective Intelligence that seeks to harness the power of computers to encourage cultural evolution, creating a more civilized society.  But the social pathology we are bombarded by every minute of the day is rooted in emotional suffering more than the symptomatic ideologies that compete for supremacy. 9384bec680c46a6c5f6f05f610827c09b78e879f

I remember reading about Pando, the trembling giant, an 80,000 year old stand of Aspen trees once thought to be the largest living organism in the world. Aspen trees are clones, sending out new tree shoots from the connected root of the whole.  Pando, identical male trees covering 107 acres in Utah has not only been dethroned, it is dying.

The reigning largest organism lives in Oregon, It is the Honey Mushroom or Armillaria ostoyae. Scientists have estimated a single specimen found in Malheur National Forest in Oregon to have been growing for some 2,400 years, covering 3.4 square miles (8.4 km²) and colloquially named the “Humongous Fungus.”

tumblr_mueucbrJeK1qh85kyo1_1280 One step closer to humanity, this parasitic mushroom reproduces sexually and absorbs nutrients by sending fibrous tentacles through the root systems of conifers, in plate like sheets, sucking the life from the land and its host trees.  One of the best ways to produce disease resistant forests is to plant mixed species.  This creates myriad, symbiotic life forms that control predatory dominance.

And what of the human organism?  We are a mixed species, adapted to every nook and cranny of our host, the earth.  If we are to avoid paraciticism, our diversity must be celebrated, survival stress reduced and efforts made to integrate the individual into a healthy whole society.  It’s time for sane, compassionate acceptance of our differences.  But we are stuck fighting the symptoms, the political, economic and religious beliefs that create enemies in every direction.  Fear, anger and love are forces for societal cohesion.  We saw how powerful the angry Fuhrer became, moving a nation to war, building a core around hatred of the “other”.   It seems that the part cannot overcome the power of the whole, so eventually the fury of the Nazis fell to the union of allies.  How many other tyrants have since come and gone?

Every religious tradition extols peace and the primacy of human love, yet many will not recognize that which they share.  The omnipotent, omnipresent God remains ineffable, somewhere out there, like a holy shadow.  It is the shadow – that which we reject in ourselves and others – we must integrate, both personally and collectively.  If we don’t act on the need to create a common center, recognizing our inner flame of love for humanity, we will continue to move in a parasitic direction, devouring our planet and each other.

It is up to us

Riffing on Patti Smith

Just Kids” brought the early years back to me, when I discovered Patti Smith, back when the Armadillo, the Austin Opry House, Club Foot, Liberty Lunch brought in The Talking Heads, Echo and the Bunnymen, Devo, The Clash, Willie Dixon, Grace Jones, young enough to ride the wave, own the city – mi vida loca.  Those years were full of light and shadow, music, art, poetry, rage, love and wisdom. Now I watch the fire’s flame, time winding through my thoughts in a spiral, bringing me  to a forgotten stairway in my mind.

The journey, taken alone, with friends and lovers, into the penumbral landscape  of the unconscious, dreaming life into being.  The realm of the poet, who trusts the power of the word to re-cognize that which is so strangely familiar.  The surrealist visionary composer playing piano on the easel of your mind’s eye can tell you which way is up, down, all around. Taking refuge in the hub stops the spinning wheel from tearing the veil from mystery’s dark eyes, rimmed with light, keeping the world in balance.  The passion for justice, serving up a slice of the pie to the soul standing on the corner begging for some small act of kindness from a stranger.

Like Ghandi waiting for the world to awaken. The dark hours before the dawn hold treasures for those who are listening.  Hearing the silence shaping sound and vision, creating space in time, cresting like a wave into consciousness. Horses running in from all directions, with their nose in flames.

Riding down Congress Avenue in the summer heat on my bike -my horse- weaving through traffic to go for a cool plunge into the icy waters of Barton Springs. Tribal dancing, fence shaking at Auditorium Shores with Stevie Ray Vaughn‘s guitar voodoo, once in a lifetime with Talking Heads at Fiesta Shores

Art claimed me as it did Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith. Working at Dixie’s Bar and Bus Stop, Amdur Gallery, Cafe Brasil, dancing at night, traveling cross country
with a black dog and a yellow cat, painting, writing, loving and riding, a leaner me in a smaller town.  The stories came freely, traded with bands of gypsies, the empress and the fool loving on the razor’s edge that cut so deep. Like a moth, I gave myself to the flame. It consumed, it resurrected it cast long shadows and shed light in my dark places. I rose many times from this pyre, shedding words like feathers from my blackened body, sharing the light still dawning in my heart. And in moments of loving union, in the moment of leaving this world for the next, I say hello and goodbye to this sweet dream.