The dingy, brown, tile steps he sat on were still warm from the day’s sun. But that probably didn’t matter much. He was staring at his feet and swaying almost imperceptibly as if the ground itself were moving underneath him. The equally dingy white shorts he was wearing defiantly blended into his surroundings as we walked past him on our way to dine at the 5 star restaurant upstairs. No one looked or even broke stride as we stepped around him. He was invisible.
What don’t we see on a daily, moment by moment basis? What is in our field of view by choice or by design? For those that “have” the less fortunate are often invisible. What don’t we want to see? I have noticed that I have become invisible to a certain age group. I am not sure when this happened or even what the qualification is for being noticed. It just happened. I was noticing this morning that I was not noticed by a young person on my walk to the office. I then noticed quite by surprise that an elderly woman next to me at the same intersection was nearly completely hidden from my view. I guess I don’t want to acknowledge the inevitable.
What about the deformed or disabled? I find that they are often equally invisible. It’s not that the wheel chair or the affectation is easy to miss. We just choose to miss it. It’s as if the acknowledgment of a human being in that predicament would somehow make it contagious or make us responsible in some way.
And in time, all of us that have lost nearly everything the recent fires will become as invisible as the folks that lost nearly everything in the Four Mile Canyon fire. What fire? Exactly. We close off our field of view with statements like, “Well at least you…(fill in the blank)”, or “Well your insurance will cover that, right?” God forbid we actually get in touch with anything that might make us feel something other than video game excitement or the protected numbness that we have come to loath and cherish simultaneously.
What would we have to deal with in ourselves to be willing to bring everything into view? Would I have to speak the young man on the steps? Would I have to show kindness to someone I would rather ignore? Does it take away from me to make that effort? Does it really take that much effort? Is it fear or simply disdain and resignation?
On our way down the steps the young man was sprawled out in a positional dare for us to take notice. His non-verbal challenge was palpable as we threaded our steps past his hands and feet. But he was invisible.
Monday, June 18, 2012
“First things first. Where’s your shitter?...” –Fat Bastard.
Indeed. Where is my shitter? As I sit on my flight to Seattle, I contemplate the weekend, and my morning. I notice the people sitting around me. It is likely they know where their shitter is. The woman in front of me has what I will call a “poodle over”. This fine doo consists of all straight hair combed up toward the top of the head culminating in a frisky yet frozen wad of curly poodlized coif. This is punctuated with a part down the back of the head in what can only be described as the poodle’s ass. I bet even she knows where her shitter is.
We took Flame the Airstream trailer to John Martin Reservoir State Park for Father’s Day weekend. Before we left, we once again dealt with the stench of outhouse permeating our shiny silver dwelling. So, I went about emptying the shit tank, which is a process that rivals a root canal in its inevitable joviality. It inspires things like giggles and smiles and words like “wow, shucks and golly.” Everyone, meaning me and Kristen, was instructed not to use it. Instead, we would use the portable outhouse we had delivered for just such an occasion. Alas, this was not to be. Kristen, not wanting to suffer the embarrassment of adjourning to the comfort of said port-o-shitter in front of the crew of workers milling about our scorched yet greening property, decided that one little poo couldn’t hurt (who could blame her?) That is until we arrived at John Martin with a pack of overeager flies trailing behind us following what must have been a very promising stench. So, we emptied the tank once again and were not allowed to use it at all for the remainder of our time in the park. We had a pretty relaxing weekend boating and fishing with Chris, Dusty and the girls then turned much too soon to return “home”.
I guess we hadn’t relaxed quite enough because Kristen and I had a scorching brawl in the “car” in the final leg of the ride “home”. It is truly amazing how small a Ford Excursion can become when the occupants are not speaking. Golly. I seem to have a case of periodic temporary amnesia or some such thing. It is amazing how quickly I can forget that I am responsible for my own experience, opinions and how the world looks to me, especially when Kristen is just plain WRONG! Such is relationship. Suffice it to say, we made it “home.”
Any time I use the term “home” now I must quote it. That is because, “home” is this trailer, which can be taken with us, which is nice, but is that a home? And, “home” is this land that remains after all else was torched and destroyed. And, ultimately, doesn’t a home have a shitter? So, when we returned, “home” to our property, we set the trailer back up on her little spot and lit a candle, some incense, an essential oil diffuser and danced a jig around the trailer praying all the while to the gods of stink to relieve us of our burden.
Then, I wanted to see how bad the little crack was in the drain line from the sink. I had noticed it about a week ago but thought that if I ignored it that the vintage ’67 PVC would simply heal itself. Not so much, really. Well, it’s bad. I had Kristen run the water in the sink while I observed through a port in the outside of Flame. The sudden gush of tea colored water and coffee grinds spewing from the crack in the line caught me by surprise. I couldn’t contain my glee and began exclaiming, “wow, shucks and golly” once again. This is so much fun. So, we are washing dishes in the “bath tub”/bird bath. Shucks! Washing dishes and breathing in the faint aroma of evening outhouse while sun sets behind the pastels caused by more fiery destruction in Fort Collins. Golly! More hapless unfortunates who have lost their shitters.
We finally settled down to watch our new addiction, The United States of Tara. Tara, in response to some unknown trauma in her childhood, has a “fragmented” set of personalities that tend to show up at the most inopportune times in an attempt to protect her from herself. Sounds reasonable… and enviable. Gangaji, our current source of spiritual teachings, would say, “welcome the experience and go deeply into it. It is there that you will discover that nothing but pure awareness is true. Everything else is a story.” Awesome. But all I really want to know is, where’s the fucking shitter?
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Seattle has been an interesting journey. Today was much like every other day I have spent there. It was cold and rained as I walked the 7 tenths of a mile to the office. I huddled under the protection of my umbrella and could feel the weight of my pants as my pant legs darkened with moisture. Pandora is the vehicle I choose to get me there. It provides me with my own theme music as I move along in the cocoon of my jacket. An occasional smell passes by that seems familiar in some way and leaves me grasping for a feeling that seems just out of reach as I stare at my shoes and watch the small rivers of rain water pass under my feet.
Ladros coffee shop is at the end of my walk just before the PSE office. The best espresso I have found in Seattle. I always look forward to this stop. This morning I bought a bag of coffee so I can make my own espresso with my little stove top Bialetti espresso “machine”. Coffee is life. The last bastion of addiction and I have no intention of giving it up. I sat in the PSE office and dreamed of making myself a latte this weekend as the fragrance of the freshly ground coffee gently reminded me of its presence.
But the fun just never ends. Looks like the shitter in our trailer is still leaking even after fixing the toilet seal. Shirley Septic delivered a Porto-o-Potty so we have a place to go. Squatting over a hole in the ground is highly over rated and the romance of the camping life style is fast wearing off. Then last night we had a torrential downpour. Much of the scorched hillside washed away. It’s a good thing the fire wasn’t “bad enough” to warrant any assistance from the Jefferson Conservation Board. I guess as long as the Denver Water Board is taken care of, we can suck-it. By the way, they funded the “controlled” burn that started this whole debacle. So, this is what I am coming home to. I have no energy to be angry any more. And I don’t have the energy to deal with this crap either. I feel like I would like to just disappear somewhere and never come back. I don’t see the end of this and I need to. It’s like a dark hallway that is full of low hanging obstacles that I keep hitting my head on. Then, just when I think I have made it out, I crack my shin on the ACME anvil.
So, I sit on the plane now returning home while the man next to me spews vile clouds of gas into the tight confines of the cabin. In disgust I reach for the air vent and notice everyone around me making faces and doing the same. But it doesn’t really help. It’s like trying to clean up a spill with a cloth that has zero absorbent qualities – it just pushes the stink around. Two hours of this. Really? But descending into Denver is simply amazing. We live in a beautiful place. The magically suspended clouds are bright white, unlike the clouds emanating from asshole next me. Will I be welcomed home? What awaits? I am, as the phrase I have adopted says, “cautiously optimistic.”