Tuesday, January 20, 2009
For fourteen of the last twenty days, Gregory Bonnet was in San Marcos helping me with about twenty big projects at home. In short, we fixed the hot tub, finished the deck next doors, put in a new water meter, replaced the siding on a house, raked every leaf, cleaned out an attic, put a new door on the attic, filled the dumpster about eight times, built a wood-shop, moved all of the tools, built a new deck, raised the house and I spent about eight grand. Greg took off yesterday on his trek back to California and to the surf in which he spends so much of his elevated time. I will rest for one day.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
“Oh, the Devil in hell they say he was chained,
And there for a thousand years he remained;
He neither complained nor did he groan,
But decided he'd start up a hell of his own,
Where he could torment the souls of men
Without being shut in a prison pen;
So he asked the Lord if He had any sand
Left over from making this great land.
The Lord He said, "Yes, I have plenty on hand,
But it's away down south on the Rio Grande,
And, to tell you the truth, the stuff is so poor
I doubt if 'twill do for hell any more."
The Devil went down and looked over the truck,
And he said if it came as a gift he was stuck,
For when he'd examined it carefully and well
He decided the place was too dry for a hell.
But the Lord just to get the stuff off His hands
He promised the Devil He'd water the land,
For he had some old water that was of no use,
A regular bog hole that stunk like the deuce.
So the grant it was made and the deed it was given;
The Lord He returned to His place up in heaven.
The Devil soon saw he had everything needed
To make up a hell and so he proceeded.
He scattered tarantulas over the roads,
Put thorns on the cactus and horns on the toads,
He sprinkled the sands with millions of ants
So the man that sits down must wear soles on his pants.
He lengthened the horns of the Texas steer,
And added an inch to the jack rabbit's ear;
He put water puppies in all of the lakes,
And under the rocks he put rattlesnakes.
He hung thorns and brambles on all of the trees,
He mixed up the dust with jiggers and fleas;
The rattlesnake bites you, the scorpion stings,
The mosquito delights you by buzzing his wings.
The heat in the summer's a hundred and ten,
Too hot for the Devil and too hot for men;
And all who remained in that climate soon bore
Cuts, bites, stings, and scratches, and blisters galore.
He quickened the buck of the bronco steed,
And poisoned the feet of the centipede;
The wild boar roams in the black chaparral
It's a hell of a place that we've got for a hell.
He planted red pepper beside of the brooks;
The Mexicans use them in all that they cook.
Just dine with a Greaser and then you will shout,"I've hell on the inside as well as the out! "”
Friday, January 9, 2009
We arrived in Big Bend, after running out of gas, on the leading edge of an arctic front. The wind was blustery and cold. As the twilight turned to darkness, we added layer after layer to fight off the plummeting temperature - a condition aggravated by the wind. But by mornings light the wind had calmed and the outlook for the trip promising. We drove out Dagger's Flat onto the Old Ore Road into a portion of the park into which we'd never been. The park is over 1200 square miles of deep dark Texas and there are parts that I'd be confident in saying have never seen hide nor hair of man. It is a desert wilderness of remarkable diversity and beauty. Our perspective offered us a distant view of the Chisos Mountains where a bit of snow was expected.
I actually drive a Chevrolet. This past Sunday, Chris, Alex and I went on a long camping trip to Big Bend - the second such trip in recent weeks. It's winter now and getting cold in the mountains - a perfect time of year to camp, to hike and to avoid venomous snakes. And so there we were, driving down I-10 past the City of Ozona and onto Ft. Stockton. I had about a third of a tank of gas and had 70 miles to go to the next gas station. Well - the state of the economy as it is, it seems that famous Fina station with the ginormous Texas flag out there in the middle of nowhere has gone out of business - only the blue star part of the flag left flying on the flagpole. I felt that worrisome feeling in my gut as I slowed down to 70 - hoping to stretch out what gas was left to the next small town of Bakersfield where I knew there was an Exxon and Chevron - the only two buildings in the city. Ooops - ran out of gas on I-10 and in the middle of nowhere and eight miles short of gas. No one would stop to help - all those silly Californian's and Minnesotans and whatnot escaping the cold, running dope, illegal aliens and such. I called the SO there in Pecos County - they had already heard about us. Apparently, ever since the Fina went out of business, the Deputy in that area always carries extra gas with him. Anyhow - along comes this little old rancher - a mexican fellow named Herman. He pulls up in his little truck - with his rifle in the front seat, dead deer head in the bed with assorted ranch stuff - old fittings, wrenches, cans, ropes, suitcase etc. "Where ya'll going" he says. Were going to Big Bend to go camping I respond in return. He smiles as if familiar with the place and says, "we'll, ya'll don't have too far to go." I explained that we had run out of gas. "It's about eight miles to the gas station" he says , "that's a long way to push." He thought for a moment and then moved a few things around in the back of his truck, pulling out a tow rope. "I'll tow you down the service road real slow, you hear. " He tied off the rope, got into his truck and slowly pulled us off the interstate. Before long we were turning into the gas station - a one pump lane that was occupied. I was certainly thankful and appreciative of his kindness. We weren't quite up to the pump yet but close enough for us to push it in the rest of the way. Alex, our wayward charge, was with me when I leaned into Herman's window and handed him a hundred dollar bill. He smiled and leaned back a bit and said, "Ya'll don't owe me nothing" refusing my gesture and then motioned us away from his window. "Ya'll step back now so I can pull you up to the pump." I turned to Alex and said, now that right there is a good man - and don't you every forget what he just did for us and don't you ever forget his name. Herman Fernandez was his name -70ish and living 17 miles from Bakersfield, Pecos County, Texas. We arrived at Big Bend right on time, as we planned, without delay - because of Herman's timely good deed.
This is not an original thought, but I have been forced by circumstance to think on these things and will put forth my considered opinion. Generally, I would not impose upon you the introspective elements of something as personal and fulfilling as love. "Love is the Universe", I have often said - for there is nothing greater. But as time has eroded my once healthy and resilient armor, the stab of an ice pick, the slash of a blade, or the deep plunge of a handily - and personally crafted shiv, has taken its toll. Love is a double edged sword and death by a thousand cuts makes sense to me now.
Before I express my own thinking, it seems appropriate to at least visit the ideas of others. We can think long and hard on any subject and only rarely will independent thought discover something remarkable and new. Where else might one go than to Wikipedia?
"Love is any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection. The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure ("I loved that meal") to intense interpersonal attraction ("I love my girlfriend"). This diversity of meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.
As an abstract concept, love usually refers to a deep, ineffable feeling of tenderly caring for another person. Even this limited conception of love, however, encompasses a wealth of different feelings, from the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love to the nonsexual emotional closeness of familial and platonic love to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts."
And so as I considier - I love camping, I love photography, I love my friends, I love my house and I love my dog. I love to travel, I love good red wine, I love the forest, the ocean and the seasons. And I have truly loved a few. For me, the emotion of love and of loving has been resilient and plentiful. Generosity, compassion, empathy, devotion, dependability, honesty and loyalty are among the array of well established values and behaviors I tend to exercise, all of which are born from my innate ability and longing to love. Over the years I have shared with heart broken lads and young ladies my thoughts at the loss of a first love.
When we are young, our father can warn us not to touch the stove, a boiling pot of water or the flame of a candle. He can warn us a thousand times and yet, we do not learn the lesson until we actually do get burned. And once we are burned and feel its searing pain, we never purposefully go back there again. We learn the same lessons from love. Our first love is unabridged, without limit and wildly free. When it ends - as it usually does - it is as wrenching an experience as can possibly be. And for the rest of our lives, we never let our love reach quite the same intensity, the same fever pitch, or with the same fervor for vulnerability out of fear of getting burned again - tempered ever after in the way we interact with the people we love. And no matter where we are in life thereafter, or with whom we find convention, when we envision in our minds eye love's nearly indescribable, precious remark-ability, it is always thoughts off our first love when we were free to experience it. And as I tell my stories to these young sad eyes, I always encourage them to be willing to risk the injury again - for in all the Universe, the prize of love is without compare.
Alas, what I have come to consider by my own blunder is that real love is both fleeting and exceedingly rare. When I love someone, I find it natural and satisfying to sacrifice and facilitate for the well being of the other. This means not only to contribute knowledge, opportunity, experience, resources and well considered words, to motivate and encourage and invest in their success, in their happiness and and in their pleasure, but to also offer things I might not want to, or enjoy, or that would be painful to me emotionally, financially or otherwise - were it not for my faithful belief that it is necessary and part of what people do for each other when they rise to that level of interpersonal commitment. When you truly love someone, and you have not let your previous experiences spoil your enthusiasm for the brass ring, nothing else matters. When you truly love someone, nothing else matters. It is the pinnacle of human existence - and how many great stories have been written over time for those elevated souls who sacrificed everything for a moment everlasting?
Ahhh...but is it only a tale - or so strangely rare that we find its memory so enticing?
I would suggest that it is indeed rare to find two people who truly love each other and exist on an equally elevated plain - perhaps a state most abundant in childhood affairs before we know better. It is far more common that one of a pair invests the lot while the other takes a lot - or some variant of the same - and should the relationship not dissolve by its natural course of inequality - people find themselves over time "attached" or "used" to their circumstance or situation, having nothing more to do with real love at all - the house, garage, cars, dinner on the table, clean laundry, the security - and whatever else goes into the package of convention - but distant and afar from even Wikipedia's thoughts. People get used to this, used to that, used to what is dependable, safe, present and available, and part of the daily grind - or to whatever has been beneficial in the relationship.
But for some, it is always a rude awakening having been born to be a lover and to learn you live on a one way street - where the seeds are sewn for the act of indifferent, in-compassionate, dis-empathetic inconsideration.
Love is rare and attachment is common and they are both difficult to shed.