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12:45 am: Far from enlightenment

“Doesn’t take much to rip us into pieces.” Little Earthquakes. Tori Amos

earthshine asked recently what I saw as the major barriers remaining between me and enlightenment. I answered, somewhat flippantly, “habituation.” A broad space encompassing the fact that, as an article I read recently put it, “there are no prison bars – only extremely strong habits.” The earthquake in Haiti has brought that front and center for me.

“What doesn’t bend breaks.” Buildings and bridges. Ani Difranco

The great yogis of old would go to the charnel grounds for their meditation. Bodies were brought there to decompose – to be fed to the carrion beasts. They would, when they thought they were comfortably detached from attachment to the illusions of the world, go there to sit and watch unvarnished reality.

“Look at this photograph.” Photograph. Nickelback.

My father has a saying – that unless you put a band-aid on a cut or otherwise seek medical attention, your body has no way to tell that it’s not in the middle ages. Haiti, right now, has very little way to tell that it’s not the middle ages. It is up to us to be that band-aid.

I’ve been looking at the pictures from the AP – thinking of the charnel grounds. Also looking back at my pictures from 2006 and the other trips.

What we see in Haiti right now is unvarnished reality. This is not an aberration. This is not God’s mistake. This is reality – as it exists unless we stand up for something better. When the Buddhists – we Buddhists – talk about the fundamental nature of reality being one of suffering and confusion, this is not an esoteric or complex claim. Look at the goddamn news.

“I’ve got no memory of anything at all.” I don’t remember. Peter Gabriel.

In a couple of months, this will be old news. Just like the still un-memorialized attacks of 2001 (and no, war does not count as a memorial). Just like New Orleans. Just like the tsunamis of southeast Asia. Just like just like just like. I’m filled with an urgency to do something, anything, right now. However I know that I’m no good with lifting concrete.

“If I’m not here, then you’re not here”. Hard to Make a Stand. Sheryl Crow

redmed has a friend who went to help shortly after 9/11. She describes her job there as “putting the left feet in the left foot box.” I’m not sure that I’m man enough to man the left foot box. I’m sure that I still run from unvarnished reality. Take me to the charnel grounds – I’ll vomit and flee. Port au Prince is averaging 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day these days. Tomorrow will almost certainly be worse than today. Today the aid organizations had to count their own dead. Tomorrow, they will have to inhale the death of a city.

“Would I take the work out of the courage?” Grey Street. Dave Matthews Band

I’ve heard, from mcniadh and others, that there is value to clear eyed writing about this sort of thing. That my effort of going to the places and reporting on what I see is not a waste of time – even if all I manage to do is to bring back reports from places that most of you will not go.

Value to you or value to me? mcniadh is a bright guy.

“Looking for light in the darkness of insanity”. What’s so funny ’bout peace love and understanding?. Elvis Costello.

So I look. I’m staring. I’m reading Pat Robertson’s crap – and tweets from survivors who are sleeping on the street again. Little heroes – the man who made it home in time to dig his wife out from the rubble of their home. Little horrors – the paraplegic woman who reported that she heard children crying in the collapsed house next door – for a while. She couldn’t move. Paraplegic, see.

“I never would have dreamed in a million years I’d see so many motherfuckin’ people who share the same same views as me.” White America. Eminem.

I got a couple of Penny arcade T-shirts over the holidays. I casually referred to them as “human detectors,” and I think that there’s more truth there than I expected. This writing is also a human detector. Are you out there?

“I think we were on the same boat, back in 1694.” Shame on You. Indigo Girls

“Lest we forget how fragile we are.” Fragile. Sting

Sleep is far from me. Enlightenment too. But I think I might be looking at reality, and that’s a start.

“You should be sleepin’”. Hammering in my head. Garbage.

Originally published at chris.dwan.org. You can comment here or there.

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