Monday, March 21, 2011

GRIEFLING (1): TRANSIENCE AT A CONSTRUCTION SITE


So I am sitting in my meadow at 8:30 A.M. when I had planned to be at school to go over objectives for the week. For seven years when driving this road, I have rubbernecked with longing at this site, conniving when I could find time to sneak away and sit here. It has turned out that for seven years I have nurtured an illusion.

The long ugly scar of a utilitarian road cuts through my meadow in violent ziggy-zag patterns, conveniently granting me access to my second disappointment: the evidence of a failed construction site. Paint buckets discolored by years of exposure to Mother Nature's four temperaments lay on their sides with remnants of their contents scattered about like the precious blood of righteous Abel. Empty Gatorade bottles lay dead, discarded by contractors who thought they were building something worthwhile and so sped down this road to get to work on time and probably put in overtime while girlfriends and wives took offense that their men were "married to the job."

Then trash. I don't even know what the trash once was. It was mangled and decayed and helplessly unidentifiable. Then I'm pushing my way through my third disappointment: weedy brush that for years looked to me from the road like, I don't know, storybook heather or in my most deluded of states Caribbean palm fronds. They treacherously stab at my indoor Nike soccer shoes and slap at my third favorite pair of skinny jeans like I am running the gauntlet.

I ventured upon my fourth and final disappointment. A little clearing at the apex of a hillock I had eyed with envy for months had been patted down by a family reunion of deer. However, when I sat in the green lawn chair I brought with me, the brush afforded me no view of Liberty Pike so that I could envision myself hurriedly driving by for the millionth time, lamenting as I passed that my life was too busy to take 30 lousy minutes to come where I am right now so that I could have realized early on that my meadow should have been one less disappointment to carry all these years.

And so the banal reality: my meadow was the site of yet another office park of start-up companies pushing virtual product so intangible that the only value you experience is the receipt reminding you that whatever "service" you purchased must be of inestimable value because it cost you your mortgage for the month. Or another strip mall of little shops called names like "KidZone", "Digiworld" and "Pizza Place" selling cheap plastics that in less than two years time will pepper the ash heaps of county dumps. Or inexpensive technologies with incompatible software that can be pawned off on unsuspecting shoppers who think poor fabrications are a great deal. Or synthetic FDA-approved foods that five years from now will not only prove harmful to health but fatal. Or God forbid they build another church. With an asinine name like "The Rock", "Shelter Me" or "All God's Children." With a marquis sporting an equally ridiculous tagline like "Got God?" or "Just believe!" or "Get off your butt for God's kingdom or God will butt you out of His kingdom." My meadow was a poorly-thought-through civilization.

And here I am, sitting on my throned hillock, master of this visionless domain that won't even allow me a vantage point of the road so that I can do what I came here to do: watch "me" speed by doing other unimportant things. Speeding to the post office to check mail that is not there. Speeding to an appointment of a friend or client who is not there. Exerting all of this energy because the constitution of my kingdom demands performance. The bylaws of my kingdom demand that constant activity equals residual income. Constant communication equals permanent impression. Constant physical expense equals longevity of life. Oh, it looks good on parchment paper, but it's a dead letter. It has forever as its chief aim expedience, expedience, expedience. Put out "this" fire that is really a blaze. Cover "that" sore which is really a tumor. Jettison "that" preference which is really a conviction. Exchange "this" idea which is really a cardinal principle upon which the entire universe pivots. It is always NOW for LATER.

It's too cold up here so I'm heading back, passing by evidence of my absent, sentient subjects: coyote poop, bobcat prints half the size of my hand, and the crime scene of a murdered deer. I stop to look at a piece of unidentifiable trash, and I'm really trying to cipher it, to understand it, to know it like I would a person. I'm thinking "What are you? Who made you? How much did you cost? What was your purpose? Who brought you out here? For what reason? When did he decide you were no longer necessary? How much effort was put into your production only to result in your discarding? What was the time-frame? What are you?"

It all smacks of sentimentalism, I know. And I would have granted you that opinion had someone not recently died, and a student at that. These sentimental questions are no less than the questions we ask about ourselves and should ask about the things we do. And it is pitiful that grief affords us the ability to suspend our transient visions in favor of classic ones. The pretentious wave for the authentic middle finger. The prescription drugs for the fruit. The tabloid for the book. The perfume for the bath. The idiocy for the sobriety. So we pose, pose, pose. Like Queen Elizabeth's tight-lipped smile, hiding rows of decayed teeth. Like blinds on a brand new house concealing the lack of furniture inside. Like designer-cut jeans hiding an obese rump. But the decay is happening underneath. It is all unraveling rather fast and exponentially so, directly proportionate to the effort we put into concealing it.

It is best to say "I don't know if we should build 'this' or 'that' 'here' or 'there'" instead of all the spurious effort. It is assumed that if I put my hand to the plow, I did some serious calculations before I pulled out the oxen, dragged out the plow and snapped the whole thing together. It is assumed that I calculated worth, time, physical effort, and absence of other things I enjoy. However, it is so easy to mindlessly leverage assets to do the work of starting great efforts without thinking "Why are we doing this besides the fact that we can?"

I often hear people berated for not finishing a project? Well, did we ever consider that certain factors absolutely discourage the finishing of certain endeavors? Like the talker who says he is going to accomplish great achievements when talk achieves nothing tangible but the production of copious amounts of carbon dioxide. Certain things are mandated to terminate at a faster rate than others. Certain things should and will never be completed. Light a dry stick on fire and it burns. Light a water-logged stick on fire and, no matter how much you "believe", it is not going to burn. And here is the interesting thing: it is not nature that suffers. It is we who suffer if we do not adjust our aspirations to the way God, in His infinite wisdom, has ordered the world to work. If it is transient, don't call it permanent. Eat the candy bar. Spend the money. Enjoy the entertainment. This, too, shall pass. Don't dub the candy bar "Heavenly Heath Bar" and think you have converted it into some eternal quality. Don't invest the money in some Christianized version of a pyramid scheme and then be disappointed when you lose it because you thought the money was especially looked over by Jesus. Don't waste money on the Christian concert and be disappointed if the Christian rock star checks into a psycho ward because he cannot function as a little god. Call transience "Transience." Seeing it for what it is, utilize it to build things of permanence.

I, for one, willfully resign lordship of this kingdom before I am forcefully deposed.

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