Monday, August 18, 2008

Midwife Crisis, 1a

Greg Barker, my fellow seeker thru mountain, forest, and cesspool, came up with a great idea for a book: The Midlife Crisis Manual: What Chicken Soup for the Soul Never Told You. I just call it the midwife crisis manual. Prose! It’s sure a different adventure from poetry. I’ll be posting some excerpts, for your enjoyment and critique.

1. Opening the Door and Peeking In

Allow me a little retrospective, to open this conversation.

I was born in medieval times, and came of age during the Renaissance. That is to say, I was born in 1950. That means I went to university in 1968, when free love, psychedelics, the Vietnam War, and radical counter-cultural behaviors were the yokes we bore, whether we thought them yokes or not. Great times!

Alas, I was heavily yoked, pulling a plow through a concrete earth with a few equally burdened roommates. Yet we lived in a world in which we imagined most everyone else to be carefree.

The War was obviously a yoke, no matter where and which way you plowed. I chose to resist the draft, amidst a veritable blizzard of news excerpts, troubled dreams, and nightmares. I experienced post-traumatic stress syndrome without ever going into combat! When I saw Apocalypse Now for the first time in the late 70's I was blown out of my seat. It was like Coppola had sent a camera crew inside my head and filmed my dreams. I’ve seen it 20 or 30 times since, and it’s still my all-time favorite flick.

But no way do I regret my decision to resist the war. I wanted to blow off my big toe – that would have given me a legitimate and permanent deferment. Not to mention a lifelong limp. But I didn’t own a shotgun, and anyway, I wasn’t that crazy. I chose, instead, to get under-weight. I went on a wicked four month diet, and ended it by eating nothing more than a quarter pound of cottage cheese a day for 17 days, right up to my physical. I became best friends with hunger. I hated him and slugged it out with him and loved him. We’re still on confidential terms. When I got off the scales at the induction center, the grunt that weighed me sneered, “You can start eating again, fucker.

I could write a novel about those 17 days! But I don’t write novels. Anyway, about six months later, living like a hermit in a cottage by the ocean, I realized I could finally stop hating my body, and allow myself to enjoy food again. I was wearing yokes I didn’t even know about. Welcome to reality.

As for taking drugs and believing in politics that required no reality-checks, someplace else I might talk about those matters. They were a worthy yoke. I learned to live with the political flagellations my friends (and ex-friends) administered. Shoot, I learned to flagellate myself more than they did, trying to figure things out. Now, that’s something to remember: learn more! As my mentor shouted at me nearly every day, “He not busy being born is busy dying.

to be continued...

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