Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Rose of Tehran Meets An American Ruse

He comes from a nation where a lack of interest in overcoming grounds for divorce is a source of personal pride; it is an individual's protected rightht to avoid intimacy, a right celebrated in song and on film, family relations include fathers, mothers, step-fathers, step-mothers, live-in boyfriend fathers and mothers, non-blood line Dads who raise someone else's kids, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Now she comes from the original Aryan nation where it is customary to have family members as best friends.

In her mother country people are capable of respecting a hierarchy of family members.

In her country people remember their best friends as eternal friends; friends of one family member become friends of the entire family. Friends made yesterday, become old friends today.

In her country, they naturally have many social contacts. They know their neighbors. Their neighbors are people who welcome the chance to can make telephone calls to help their neighbors find God . It's all that people seem to want to talk about.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Simplest Presence

Everyday I drive past an expanse of sea.
The simple present in English asserts our daily truths.

In Latin it indicates a belief which is felt to be true but not necessarily at the moment in time when the speaker speaks his piece.

Everyday I (am capable of) driving past an expanse of sea.

The simple present in Hindi like all Hindi tenses indicates more than what is believed in the moment--time is only one consideration of a Hindi verb tense.

I drive past an expanse of sea, and I suppose I do this everyday. But what is important to me at this moment is that today--as on all days--I drove past that expanse of sea again.

In Arabic, first off there is no "be", no "I am." The simplest expression of what we feel, think, hear, believe, know, love and hate can only be expressed as a continuation from this moment on and into the future, as though to say "I believe in God" is not sufficient for this moment, like no moment can be pinned down. I believe is "I believing". The "be" verb is superfluous, perhaps blasphemous. Like Hebrew, there is an auxiliary form, but it is only comes off the bench to emphasize a point.

Today I drove past an expanse of sea due to the grace of God as I did yesterday and God willing tomorrow.

I can define what it means to use the simple present in English--it defines and consecrates our habits, our comfortable routines, our believes--which to others are just opinions; it announces our immediate experience of the senses.

What I can't say is what it means to me to live in the simple present.

Like Latin, I can tell you how I feel and believe, love and know, think and hear at this moment--perhaps it is similar to the past, but it might not actually be --at this moment.

Like Hindi, what I tell you I believe right now is only the rock rolled in front of the tomb. It would take something greater than myself to roll the rock away. Hebrew, like Arabic, what is in this moment I feel to be my truth, could just as wel be untrue, because even as I speak it, that truth is running.

In the holy places I have been to--that is to say, in the Hindu temples, the Islamic Mosques, the synagogues, the revivals in circus tents, in the rooms where I go and listen to the experiences, the strengths and hopes of people who have been allows been able to feel more than many can bear, so they try to live in the moment because they, like me, have always lived in their --ings, in continual movement away from their "truths".--

I go to learn in Buddhist temples during Catholic masses to try to understand how to live in not only the simple present, but know the Simplest Presence. We don't say in all these rooms--the domed, the steepled, the smoke filled basements when weon our knees, our become procumbent, our sometimes sitting cross legged in a folding chair chugging coffee that we believe--we say whether we admit it or not that we WANT to believe--and many of us settle this. . .this willingness to believe.

I go to these rooms in Seoul, in Jeddah, in Kathmandu, in Bangkok,in Baker, Louisiana, in St. Louis' cathedral in the Vieux Carre,in Notre dame in ashrams, in AA meetings, NA meetings only to ask that maybe one day I will get It.

I have gone there looking for miracles and have often found them without knowing it until years later.

I have gone when I needed a new employer, a new sex life, to dry tears, to eat free finger sandwiches, to keep my doomed cat from suffering throughout another night, to ask that my mother experience a moment of pure joy before she dies; I have gone to become less and less me and to become more assured of some Presence.

I have gone to learn tolerance, patience and how to not only give but how to receive without asking a hundred befuddling questions beginning with why do good things always happen to you, why bad things to me?.

I go to find out what it is like to be a reasonable man.
Now is not the time to think that somehow I willed all of this to happen.

In the past, yes, every success was an assurance that my human will can be triumphant.
I have a lot of things to be grateful for. I want to remember them on a daily basis.

Today, after I drove past an expanse of sea,, I went to a mall and I encountered a Nepali guard whom I've met before and talked to before, who, when he sees me, exchanges a "Namaste" , using the appropriate hand gestures. He is a slight man, unassuming, tough steely eyed, and extremely mindful of all that happens around him. Still, when he sees me coming, he recognizes a Divine Presence in me--the same presence in all of us, as I seein him.

So we clasp our hands together, bow our heads slightly and whisper, "Namaste."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Too Much Information (Revised)

Ex-pat is not a life of empowerment (unless one defines empowerment strictly in economic terms). An important substitution for empowerment is being in the know on someone else's private affairs. Passing along the latest Guess-What-I-Heards produces a high especially if the info is meant to be kept secret and especially if one isn't inclined to hold self-worth in high esteem by holding trust in high esteem.

What I find liberating and self-empowering sharing daily incidentals about my is that I know how deflating and anti-climatic the whole gossip experience can be when one party asks a second party, "Have you heard about. . ." and the second party answers, "Yes, I've already heard. . .I read his/her blog this morning"

Basically I feel as Anne Frank might have felt, that is gossip crones are good people as we are all good people in some measure, and they see should see themselves as such, maybe even more so when manhandling trustworthiness--they need our sympathies.

Perhaps they see a good in it-gossip mongering. They are reactionaries and reactionaries speed along social evolution towards newer and tastier social paradigm shifts.

Many things we think of as moral imperatives, many of which come into conflicts with others, have some good in them however spurious.

But if you were to ask these gossip mongers, other people watchers, ego-less beings at the center of their meaningless life spans if they thought rumor mongering a worthwhile human enterprises, perhaps they'd disagree, say "It's against the Bible", "a Veda" or "the Quran" or something.

However, as with all people who are the world over disempowered somehow: spiritually, philosophically, homeless, who daily endure their impoverished souls, their deflated self esteeem, their dreams deferred or just plain are emotionally demoralized by the onset of years, what others seem to know that they don't know or own which their covet, it’s easy to offer them our sympathies for they have loss all sense of indignity (yet they may inherit this Earth afterall--so a litle sucking up might be worthwhile as well). Oh, and c'est moi.

Today the late March sky is gray and somber, putting gloom in my coffee. It's going to be a Zoloft kind of day.

Meanwhile, on TV, more dismembered corpses are piling up; everyday there is fresh kill, body counts which leave me numb, more and more slabs in morgues, body bags marked members missing, or soldiers of God lifeless on the dusty ground, arms and legs retracted into fetal positions--from Sudan to Mosul to North Korea to Chicago. Let's face it. It's dangerous out there. Who can argue that it is safer to dial a number and spend hours on the phone blathering on about someone else?

It's World War 3. It may not look like the third one we'd expected. I mean, we aren't living in some post-apocalyptic Mad Max Thunder Dome World (unless you've been to Ibra, Oman you might not be able to imagine what one loks like), but if you open a map and start sticking red pins into all of the countries in the world that have been recently rocked by explosions, have seen gun battles in the streets where children wait for the bullets to stop flying to resume their football games, if you seem to be seing more and more post-adolescent soldiers dispatched to some place other than the sanctuary of hearth and home, ordered to shoulder a weapon for an artful, guileful cause, you might be witnessing an artful dodgy Third World War and not even know it.
See the many countries involved in this war as mangy pups to the communal bitch who walks the Earth in order to tell us lies.

Consider yesterday's papers: The dead last year in Thailand were not necessarily disaffected Muslim youth; they were youth who happen to be targets on the campaign trail of a Machiavellian politico. And there ain't much any of us can do to stop any of it. Taking drugs may help, sometimes. Turning off the television helps always.


Things are. Full stop.

As for me daughter--good news. Julia has been accepted into her state's arts academy. I helped a little--just a little. I paid for her summer camp there last year and chipped in on the car that drove he there. That helped her to put together her first short film (for which she won a prize) -so maybe she inherited some of my bi-polarity insights into the world from pole to pole. Though I was on the road throughout most of her life and I am only her father--her Mom married ( and later divorced her dad) she (like me) plays multiples of instruments--and she can write as beautifully as her mother, "too beautifully for words" (Grass) And her mother of course deserves an armada of boats laden with credit for cradling her as a baby. But mostly, Julia has done it on her own and perhaps whatever goodness she can offer to this world, this will be my contribution to that better world--those 26 chromosomes she inherited from her rouge daddy.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Monsoons and Job

There are monsoons in Salalah. In the summer a giant sea breeze between the Asian massif and the Indian Ocean is one of the most significant natural phenomena that influences the everyday life of more than 60 percent of the world's population. Job of old testament is buried in Salalah. In summer, this southwesterly winds intensifies as the heat beckons from Oman, directing it to its coast, and blowing hard on Job's tomb.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I Wish I'd Been Able to Hold Her as a Baby

Julia got into her home state's art academy. She has found sanctuary. Her future is on the wing.

Julia is the daughter of two people who created her while studying for an MFA in creative writing. Her mother was reasonably sensible, jolly, almost entirely alcohol and drug free and careful with money. The father was the anti-thesis of these attributes. But they made a good looking baby.

This father is on his way to Muscat tomorrow to make sure his three cats have the proper papers to get his cats out of Oman and back into Kuwait.

In three weeks or so, he will transfer his life away from his current wife--the Rose of Tehran--back to Oman, but in its deep south, Salalah.
Sa is Arabic for "see whadda mean" La is Arabic for no. Y'understand nope nope, Oman.

Monday, March 07, 2005

March 6 2005

The town where I currently am holed up in a hotel room (on par with Motel 6) has a main street that cuts through three or four blocks of shops which remind me of an Indian village in Uttar Predish--except this village has a nice road and nicer cars and fewer people squatting beside the road patiently waiting for an easy death and a quick rebirth, hoping to return with lighter skin, yellow hair, a US or Canadian passport and a merrier song in their curried cured hearts.