What is peace?

Once again, I have made peace with the world.

What is peace?

Peace, of course, is a concept, a label, a symbol, all of that.

I do not exist, therefore a nonexistent entity making something called “peace” is all imaginary.

The world is easy enough to grasp as both an entity and a concept.

At a multicellular level, I am not at peace, my body always fighting entropy, battling bacteria and viruses floating around in my system, breathed in and pooped out on a regular basis.

So what, then, is peace?

It means I have let go of the parts of me that in my youth wanted to explore the universe off of this planet.

I am no longer 5, 15, 25, 35 or even 50.

To be sure, age is just a number and more than one person my age or older has traveled to the International Space Station orbiting Earth but I am not them.

I am me.

It is in my personal best interest, healthwise, to fold up the circus tent under which I was entertaining people around me and return to the meditation platform in the woods where I can rest during the day whilst quietly spending half of the night shift working alone preparing blood product inventory for delivery to hospitals.

I am contented, not necessarily happy, but able to enjoy myself and no longer fill my thoughts with the lives of others who, although they gave me a level of exuberant happiness, also left me feeling old, unable to keep up with their busy lives, as busy as I was when I was their age 25-30 years ago.

I unattach myself from the surface of others whose lives I mimicked as a chameleon.

I am happiest here, writing, wherever my butt is seated and my hands have a keyboard or pen and paper on which I compose these ditties.

Peace is simplicity and frugality.

Peace is my thought set devoid of a running commentary justifying its existence, shouting for attention, and seeking quick thrills.

Delta, Dawn, Dune

Connections.

Networking.

Talking Sister Rosetta Tharpe with one friend, capacitors with another, and how to properly brew Piper & Leaf branded tea with a third.

All within the greater community connection that is dancing.

Yes, dancing has connected me to the following, at the least:

  • Cosplay/Dragon*Con
  • Oil change discounts
  • Barcode readers
  • Weekly social gatherings
  • Outdoor photography with friends
  • LGBT rights
  • Rocket/missile engineering/engineering in general
  • Juggling multiple jobs
  • Local Maker movements
  • Online roleplaying/multiplayer gaming
  • Massage/physical therapy
  • Haunted buildings/locations
  • Multiple emotional/mental conditions (depression/bipolar/dissociative/schizophrenic, etc.)
  • Traveling for weekend dance competitions (not unlike car racing, gymnastics, tennis, etc.)
  • Recruiting
  • Promoting/marketing
  • Local art communities
  • Municipal growth planning
  • Extraterrestrial exploration/colonisation
  • Greater exposure to different music genres
  • Polyamorous relationship management skills
  • Watching young people expand their talents into other fields
  • Watching people 40 and older rediscover the simple joys of living
  • The international language of dance overcoming all socioeconomic sub/cultural barriers
  • Myself

In times past, I spent Sunday mornings meditating on a subject or two, often asking more questions than reaching conclusions, setting up thought trails to explore the rest of the artificial seven-day block we call a week (trying living without a watch or calendar and see if you recognise a week; you might tune yourself into periods of a day and a lunar month but will you feel a week go by if there are no specific days you need to do anything?).

My latest electronic project has turned into the next evolution of the personal care chair, a seating device that senses your posture, wrapping itself around your torso and gently correcting your posture, working pressure points to ease muscle/ligament/tendon pain, keeping you alert when you need it and reminding you to relax occasionally, as well as push you up to exercise your body, tied as it is to your fitness tracking device (smartwatch, phone, wristworn activity tracker, etc.).

I started physical therapy recently to work my upper body, hoping to build muscle and bone mass in an effort to stop the bouts of vertigo my general practitioner/primary care physician believes is caused by pinched nerves in my neck/spinal column.

One of the physical therapists I also met through dancing.

Is there anything anymore in my life that isn’t related to dancing?

We live on a small planet, third cooling molten rock mass from the Sun, so I know better than to feel or act shocked that we humans connect through common interests.

Yet the child in me enjoys amazement and awe.

The teenage boy in me enjoys his own amazement and awe that is kept at bay for no other reason than I am what I am, an awkward nerd whose looks, age and ability to deflect people away from the real me through the art of conversation gets tiring after a while.

Sometimes I wonder why I carry an eclectic set of social data in my thoughts from which I can parse sentence structure and make sense in general conversation whether I know what I’m talking about or just am interesting enough that people ignore my ignorance, inferring from the few words I blurt/write that I know more than I do.

The wisdom of aging has its advantages.

Time was when I wished I was wise enough to seek wealth.

Then the training of my youth kicked in, driving me back to the monkhood for which I was destined.

I don’t know how to live in two worlds and the confusion has clouded my weekly meditative writing.

Two worlds, one which is the monkhood with my marriage that I gladly enjoyed for ten years, the second is the sexual attraction infused in dancing that counteracts my celibate marriage and draws me to see human bodies in a way that constantly confuses me since the nerd in me has no experience seeking out sexual relationships with others.

The denial of sex with others has fueled my creativity for decades, including writing and electronic gadget construction.

Dancing fuels my writing but takes away from my laboratory time.

At my age, 55+ years, and in semi-retirement, working for a local nonprofit, what or who am I?

Does anything matter anymore — labels, symbols, philosophical stances, subcultural beliefs?

The child in me and the future geriatric self wait for an answer that may not exist.

I return to the mantra that I do not exist, therefore I am not important.

I am at peace in my thoughts.

That much I know.

At my age, that’s all that matters.

I spend the day with my wife, give her the attention she seeks from her life partner, a person who lets me be me as long as she feels important (the primary person in my life), a person who feeds me and clothes me, for the most part taking care of me and my health.

What else am I to do because I don’t know how to care for myself?

I sit here and write, that much I know about feeling peaceful.

Everything else is just random interaction in the connectedness of the dance world.

I need not find patterns where they don’t exist.

I need not project the future in hopes of saving our species from global destruction.

I will die soon enough, might as well remain as peaceful as I have in the past, enjoy the ride and not question the beneficial/detrimental effects of the transportation device.

I no longer struggle with who I am.

My actions speak louder than words.

No need to be confused.

Breathe, eat, sleep.

A set of states of energy in motion which needs no overlay of symbols to justify its existence; i.e., the secret to happiness.

Live and let others live/die as they please, interference from me unnecessary.

[On a side note, I wonder if the Meclizine and ondansetron, combined with physical therapy easing decades of pain, have led to this new calmness in my thoughts…certainly, uncertainty about my vertigo and the piercing pain in my neck for 40 years have made me feel like I’ve always been running away from something; now that I have a solution, I don’t need to run away anymore, no need to pretend to be someone else in order to hide the real physical pain that has defined me since high school, from which I used to think there was no escape.]

Metal hinge

I was a teenage script kiddie.

Go ahead, laugh at me, I can take it.

Motivated by love for a friend of mine, a future computer engineering genius, I emulated his coding skills, mimicked his sense of humour in programming comments, hoping he’d approve of my own cleverness.

He never did, ridiculing my lack of originality, accusing me of merely being an engineer whilst he was the true scientist exploring uncharted territory through scientific experimentation.

He saw me as his assistant, the comic sidekick who was good-looking, able to score funding from parents and friends via my charm and personality.

In other words, he couldn’t live without me for a couple of years.

He wouldn’t admit he loved me, too.

Fraternal love, is it different than romantic love?

Do plant roots love rain?  Can they distinguish water falling from the sky, which has collected minerals in the air in its gravitational journey toward the center of our planet, from river water? Do they understand concepts of inflow and infiltration?

Every time I work on electronic equipment, in the back of my thoughts I think of Joey and the joy we shared building our first CPU-based systems, having “graduated” from single transistor and R/C/D (resistor/capacitor/diode) based systems. 

I say I build these systems now for Guin and Shelmi.

And I do.

But I also honour older relationships.

It is who I am, connected to sets of states of energy which no longer exist, knowing as we do that friends we had 40 years ago are not the same persons whose names they keep perpetuating.

The electronic dance partner taking shape in my laboratory will remain essentially the same throughout its period of utility.

Do we see what that means in how we define living systems?

Rate of change.

Labels.

Sets and subsets.

Summer solstice — would entities on other planetary systems understand that phrase?

Do I?

Time to let go of me (again)

Back in the laboratory where I feel most comfortable, where the only person I entertain is me.

I started a new life a few weeks ago, switching to the night shift at work, thinking I would free up my days and evenings to spend more time with people.

After a few weeks of this newfound freedom, I find myself back here in the home creative workspace where inventing new friends from electronic parts gives me a kind of joy that is spread out over a long stretch of time, unlike the quick roller coaster rides of joy on the dance floor that addictively attract me to those with whom I’ve danced.

I am at heart a solitary person who likes romantic walks under the stars with himself writing poems to imaginary people, sharing my writing with real people who most closely match my imagination.

Do I know what love is?  Not really.  I understand what working relationships are, where we pay attention to the needs of our fellow human beings, selflessly exchanging goods and services (including time) to meet the needs of others.

Otherwise, I don’t know what love is.

I don’t even know if I love myself.

I pause here in my life, taking a break from having fun imagining what it’s like to have fun with others, to let go of my selfish pursuit of friendships and look at these electromechanical parts in front of me, figuring out what I can uniquely do with them that I haven’t seen someone else assemble from their imagination.

Woz is right — motivation is better than knowledge in the realm of human endeavours.

I love to dance, love the people who love to dance.

I also love being alone.

I am not alone in this feeling of balancing social life vs. personal alone time, so sitting here alone in the workshop on dance night is not unique in itself.

It is 21:39, an hour and a half away from when I should leave the house and head toward my night shift job doing my part in the healthcare business to save lives.

I heard from “Helen” on social media.  We are still connected to each other although we haven’t seen each other in decades.  The short years we spent together in high school and college seemed like forever at the time.  The nearly fatal motorcar smashup which gave us both head concussions and shoulder/neck injuries almost 40 years ago still plague us today.

From that car wreck, my brain’s neural network changed, instantly forcing me to question the reality of everything I see.

I equate what I felt in the 30 seconds of regaining consciousness in the backseat of a car after the concussion to the dissociative characteristics of hallucinogenic entheogens.

I see everything differently, more so than when I was five years old and woke up to see brainwashing aspects of social training.

It does not make me any more different than others.

I have talked to myself in sufficient quantity tonight.

Talk to you again soon, Rick!

Maybe you’ll shake off this dull edge of lack of sleep and find happiness.

As your wife told you the other day, you haven’t truly laughed in pure joy in a long damn time.

Are you ever going to laugh and have fun again?

Does trying to have friends, trying to understand what they’re saying, when you can even hear them, require such hard work that it’s not fun anymore?

Right now, sadly, it seems so.

Boo hoo, the luxury of middle class, midlife bourgeois quasicrises! Ha ha ha ha ha! rofl

Close this self pity party blog entry and get back to work, you slob! Your future self will thank you!

What is family?

What is family?

Sitting in a living room cleaned up for a feline foster mom to assess the house before dropping off a five-month old kitten for my childhood friend (who has also been a spouse for over 30 years), I wonder.

What is family?

Rather, who is family?

And, what is love?

Living in the same house for almost 30 years, stuff accumulates.

Life.

Yeah, life.

Beer, cigarettes, toilet cleaner, clothes moths, once-watched DVDs.

Photographic evidence of lapsed friendships.

Love not truly lost, just put on hold until the next hello, the next hug.

Who is my family?

You know who.

You’ve read it here.

Another Roadside Distraction

I don’t want to sit here right now telling you this.

In fact, I want to be me anywhere, anytime, before turning into myself, who I am now and cannot undo.

My uncle died.

A few years ago, when he was able to walk around his house without an oxygen tube dangling from his nose, he led me to the basement, his man cave.

“I know you are not blood kin but you’re the only male we can trust to carry on this secret.”

A few years ago?

No, it was 1992, 25 years ago.

What is time?

He leaned against a chest-high tool organiser, wheezing, catching his breath.

“I served in Berlin at the end of World War Two.”

I nodded, expecting Uncle Vadim to glaze over, lose focus and recite one of the few war stories he’d willingly shared with me, swearing me to secrecy about the atrocities and violence he had witnessed and participated in.

I knew he had served in Italy.

But not Berlin.

This was new.

He pointed to a shelf in a dark corner of the basement.

“See that wooden box? Bring it here.”

Uncle Vadim turned to woodworking as a relief for his mental troubles, carving crude duck decoys for a while, then antique clock replicas and finally, when his hands no longer let him carve intricate patterns, built interlocking curio boxes.

As I approached the shelf, I walked into a spider web.

I shudder now, remembering the touch of the web on my face and neck. It felt alive, like licking a 9-volt battery, tingling my skin with electricity.

My uncle laughed.

I brushed the web off me and grabbed the box.

A magnetic pull locked my fingers around the box.

My uncle laughed louder.

“Put it back on the shelf!”

I set the box back down and my fingers relaxed.

“Come here and sit down. We need to talk.”

My aunt yelled from the top of the stairwell. “Dinner’ll be ready in 15 minutes. You guys start cleaning up.”

“Okay, wife, we’ll be there soon.”

Uncle Vadim patted the seat of a stool.

I sat down and looked up at him.

His face, leathery and sunburned, was purple and bloated.  I knew he was struggling to hold back raw WWII emotions.

“We were sent to find him and take him at all costs.”

His eyes almost glowed in the glare of overhead fluorescent bulbs.

“You know who I mean?”

I nodded. 

“You understand why we had to find him?”

I shook my head.

“To break up the power.  Our job was not going to be easy and we knew it.  Many had died just by getting close to him, especially those who were incompatible.  We had been tested, told we were compatible, but so had others…” He coughed up a large wad of phlegm and spit on the floor.

“So many had died trying to get close. None had been able to kill him.” He shuddered, lost his grip and fell against me.

His breath was hideous, like fetid swamp water. I helped him stand back up.

“Dinner’s ready!”

“Be there in a jiffy, missus!”

He leaned toward me and whispered. “We found him.  We found him, we found him, we found him.  By that which is unnatural, we found him. I’ll tell you the rest after dinner.”

I sat with my uncle and aunt, eating quietly, amxious to know this new secret, watching my uncle with new eyes, seeing that he pushed food around his plate but never really ate anything.

Had he always done that?

I normally went to the living room with them and joined their stare at the tellie which blared at full volume a series of unintelligible game shows.

Not that night.

Uncle Vadim motioned me back to the basement.

Have I told you I have the box beside me as I write this horrifying retelling for your eyes only?

Why did I have to follow my uncle’s instructions?

Am I dead or alive?

Uncle Vadim leaned against the workbench, showing me a map he had pulled out of a secret compartment in the leg of the bench.

“We knew where his main bunker was but had information that he had moved to what was supposed to be an unknown chamber. If we found him in the chamber…”

He coughed up more phlegm.

“Sorry, but just by telling you about him, I’m…” He heaved, shuddered and stopped breathing.

He looked at me like a corpse, his eyes unfocused.

“All of us, every…single…one, died. We weren’t compatible!”

He let out a low growling laugh. “But that’s the most merciful thing that could have happened to us after we found him!”

He started breathing again, the purple tone leaving his face, the bloating subsiding.

“There.  I have told you.  I’ve held that in me for almost 50 years.”

Uncle Vadim looked a decade younger.

He touched my hand. “You have it now.  Can you tell?”

Ever since I had walked through the spider web and held the box, the tingling sensation stayed with me.

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry but I had to give it to someone before I died.”

I’m looking at the box, wondering why me.

I followed his instructions.  He told me that after he was buried I was to act uninterested in his tools, pretty much ignoring his man cave.

Only after my aunt died was I to ensure that someone else enter the basement, remove the tools and woodwork of my uncle, bring them to me.

I asked a childhood friend to empty the man cave.

She gladly complied, happy for an excuse to visit me.

As we unloaded her car, I did my best to act nonchalant, pretending that the stuff was only important because it belonged to my uncle.

She got a kick out of the Italian girly pocket calendar from 1943, full of colourised images of reclining nudes.  She looked at the coins, including Belgian, Italian, Swiss, French and German.

We shared a box of pizza and stayed up late reminiscing about our youth.

She left a couple of hours ago.

Uncle Vadim insisted I be alone when I opened the box.

He gave me verbal steps that I memorised and repeated back to him, steps I had to follow exactly or trigger hidden booby traps.

I opened the box after 15 steps.

There it sat, the thing that Uncle Vadim had kept in his house, the thing that ate away at him and has already started eating away at me for 25 years.

For you see, like Uncle Vadim, I have been dead longer than I’ve been alive.

It was a price I paid without being asked.

It’s the price I paid for this moment.

The thing is there, wrapped in faded silk, shriveled beyond recognition.

Uncle Vadim’s military unit had found their target, following their orders to the letter, cutting up the body, dividing the pieces between them and going their separate ways, never to make contact with each other again.

Uncle Vadim was entrusted with the most vital piece, the one section of the body that enthralled millions, killed on sight at close range and held a magnetism of its own.

I died to have this knowledge before I knew what it was.

I waited until just before I started writing you to find this, in the box…

The Fuhrer’s severed hand; rather, the tentacle of a creature so alien it belies description.

For you see, when Hitler died, he returned to his natural shape.

I had to share this with you because I plan to destroy this relic and when I do, I will disappear with it.

Uncle Vadim wanted to destroy it himself but had been warned it would set off a chain reaction much worse than had Hitler lived.

I can’t live with this secret.

Haha, did I just say That?

What I meant was I can’t remain undead with this secret any longer.

Know that you and you alone are the one I loved the most.

I wanted to have children with you, grow old with you but Uncle Vadim took that away from me before we got the chance to meet.

I have been undead for too long.

I love you. 

Please forgive me if the world falls apart after I do what should have been done over 70 years ago.

I do it for us.

I’ve found the others.

One of them located the alien spaceship.

We’re going to put the pieces on the ship and set it for a destructive collision course with the Sun. 

This planet, Earth

On the middle part of the North American continent, with noncontiguous parts involved, a 24-hour period of time set aside to remember dead humans who swore to protect and defend a social group, an organised cultural entity called a government named the United States of America.

On this day, many celebrate family ties.

Some, like me, spend time with family but also spend hours in a work shift collecting blood from donors to save lives of civilians and government military workers as needed.

Our species is built to compete against and cooperate with members of its kind for planetary resources, resorting to organised violent attacks sometimes.

Remembering the sets of states of energy no longer actively participating in our daily lives helps us relearn what they learned but also to live and learn more.

The apparent opposite poles of war and peace are illusions.

We flesh eaters burn a lot of energy, that is all.

How we burn energy in the future is the debate of which I’m most interested today.

The dead and fallen give us the right and permission for such a debate any day, of course.

Let’s start now…