I’ll tell you what hurts. What makes me what to spit blood. It’s the loss of human dignity. It’s seeing that peasant trawling through his own excrement, hoping against any semblance of sanity to find something to keep him and his family alive for one more day.
There’s nothing glorifying about that. It’s dehumanizing. Even dogs don’t do that.
When a man has to do that, when he is reduced to such a level of existence, he must know that life is simply not worth living. He must be prepared to give that life up. Anything is better than living that kind of life, a subhuman life.
I can feel your anger as if it were exploding through the universe. It’s not as loud as thunder or blinding as lightning but it feels more deadly. Hearing you speak of it and I too find it loathsome, something that I feel I shouldn’t tolerate.
(Seething and heaving, eventually falling into a brooding, dark mood, shoulders bent over as tears slowly trickle down his cheeks. When he speaks, it’s quiet and laboured by the lumps in his throat)
The Spirit wants to flee such a man for it will not allow itself such indignity. It will sacrifice that body for such a body is no longer human. It will chase after something grand, much, much grander than what this human body and this human brain are prepared to put up with. It will not lower itself and rightly so.
I have learned since discarding my body, since living here, that ignorance and corruption are the causes of indignity.
But I thought you always knew that. Wasn’t it what you…
I always thought I knew and this is such a dangerous thing. More dangerous than weapons and revolutions, the one thing that destroys a man and insults him and his fellow human beings is thinking and believing that *he knows*.
He doesn’t know a fuck.
(Seconds pass, perhaps a whole minute or two as I wait in my own shock and rising despair, wait for him to lift the hopelessness of his words with some joyful, promising revelation. But he remains silent and when he finally speaks again, he has moved on to something else).
You must understand people. At least you must try and understand them.
(I wait for him to continue).
By understanding people, you begin to understand the vastness of yourself. And the smallness. A man looks to another man for self-comprehension. He cannot begin to comprehend himself if he were to live in isolation for in isolation, he is reduced to one single point, like a singularity, unable to see himself, feel himself, taste or hear himself.
This is why and how existence came into being. From that one singularity, that dense, infinitesimal point, broke out all of life as it has been evolving. And to sit in yourself without the knowledge or care for the others around you, the other things around you, animals and sky and plant and fish and so on, is to completely lack understanding of who you are. It is to live in utter and ultimate ignorance.
But people do, I want to say, but I remain silent.
Do you know that children in Cuba start their day at school by invoking my spirit? They say that they wish to have the spirit of adventure that I had.
Yes, I read that in Wikipedia.
(He laughs genuinely tickled by the fact that Wikipedia has become the world’s most frequently and readily accessed *authority* on any subject.)
You are a fool (he smiles at me) but I like fools far more than I like people who think they know it all.
Didn’t you think you knew it all?
Okay, I can see we’re coming full circle. This is something we skirted around earlier. You’ve got to understand something. There is a difference between acting with certainty and acting with conviction.
Certainty is a dead end. You can’t go beyond it. You might as well stop breathing. But conviction, ah, she is the ultimate seductress.
I thought certainty and conviction have a lot to do with each other, I think to myself while waiting for him to explain.
You see, conviction urges you on without telling you exactly where you’re going. All you know is that you’ve got to keep going, your very life depends on it. Life would be utterly barren and hopeless without it.
And you keep going, no matter how exhausted you get, even when you can’t breathe anymore. You just keep going. The fire’s in your belly. You know, and this might be the only certain thing about it, that at some point, whether while still breathing or when you’ve finally stopped, you’ll go to bed with her for she’ll be waiting for you.
And I tell you what, there’s a painful comfort in knowing that someone is waiting for you, no matter how long you take.
Why is that?
Why is what?
Why is there comfort and why is it painful?
Because that’s how a man knows he’s returned home. That’s how he reminds himself that he has a home, a place of rest and recuperation. A place of belonging. That’s the comfort. And it’s painful because he knows he’s got to leave his home, his lover’s bed, sooner or later, briefly or lengthily.
(I feel the truth of what he’s said and it is arresting. For a while, there is no where I can move to and no thought that hurries in for my attention. I’m just transfixed in the realization that all of life is a series of leaving home and returning).
You know, one of the perks of being dead, or should I say, non-physical, is that I can actually read people’s minds. Well, not exactly but I do have a more accurate sense of what’s going on in their heads. It’s certainly better than when I was in physical form.
Are you trying to tell me that you can read my mind? Have been reading my mind?
No, I haven’t been reading your mind. Why make my time with you boring? Che! But, when you fell into that long silence just now, I tuned in and yes, I pretty much saw what you were thinking. I’m making no apologies for it so please don’t expect me to.
(Smiling) You know, I’m actually flattered that you’d take the trouble with me!!! I mean, who am I for you to take an interest in!
Okay, so you must understand what a moron is. I’m not a moron. The fact that I’ve spent the last hour or so talking to you should at least explain that I think you’re worth talking to. And if you’re worth talking to, then surely it’s worth knowing what you’re thinking especially when you fall into an uncharacteristic silence like you just did.
Yes, yes, I know, silence with you is not uncharacteristic. Okay, let’s make this simple. I was getting bored listening to myself, so I tuned in to you to hear what was going on in your head. Okay? Does that satisfy you?
(Smiling) Sure. To tell the truth, anything you say would satisfy me.
Hmm… another dangerous point of view but I’ll let it pass for now. I’m more interested in your realization.
Yes, that life is a series of leaving home and returning.
(Nodding my head) Yeah, it is, I’ve come to realize.
And how does that make you feel?
Don’t you know? I mean, you’ve tuned in after all!
Oh, hey, I don’t stay tuned in longer than I need to or want to. It’s much more fun hearing your voice and hearing what you have to say.
But I’ve not been speaking, not with my mouth.
Yes, but your mental voice is a lot like your physical voice, only with a bit of echo. There’s plenty of empty space (ha ha ha) between your ears, you know.
You are quite a tease. (I’m laughing)
I like you. You’ve got what it takes.
To do what?
To be human.
You know, for some reason that sounds really bizarre. *I’ve got what it takes to be human*. It kinda suggests that there’s a possibility I might not have been human, that I might have been a glow worm or a piece of igneous rock or something.
(Nodding and chewing) You got that right.
You’re being serious, aren’t you?
Dead. You know when people are sick? When they get really sick and fade in and out of consciousness? They’re making deals with their souls. They’re deciding whether they want to continue in physical form or not and what kind of physical form too.
How do you know that?
I’ve been there myself. And since being non-physical, I’ve been tuning in to people who’ve been in the process of making deals. And besides, when I was treating sick people, I could sense it then too.
This is spinning me out. I mean, why would a person choose to be an igneous rock or an ant? And by choosing it, would they have to settle for the expected life span too? I mean, a rock is gonna be around for a heck of a long time and an ant is gonna get trampled on or sprayed into oblivion pretty quickly.
Oh dear, now you’re actually starting to get boring. I’m sorry, perhaps I’ve dealt with these questions to death that they’re all pretty much textbook information. Entirely boring facts. So please excuse me if I’d rather talk about something else right now. Perhaps another day, if you can catch me in my sleep, I’ll be able to give you all your answers without losing sleep over it (like my irony???).
Right now, though, I’m still curious about your realization. How do you feel about the realization that life is about leaving home and returning again and again and again until perhaps you get tired of it all and you decide to pull the plug from the physical world?
How do you feel about that?
You know, Che, this is what I find interesting – the fact that I don’t think it’s a big deal. When you first said it and when I first realized it, it seemed like such a revelation, a big Wow. But now, it just seems pretty ho-hum, you know?
Yeah, we’re constantly leaving some place comfortable and moving toward some place less comfortable, new, different etcetera. After a while, it gets comfortable and we move again and so on and so on. (Shrugging my shoulders). Yep, that’s what happens. It’s been happening from day one and will continue to. I’m afraid I don’t find anything mouth-wateringly exciting about that. Mundane, almost.
You might need to read something I wrote about existence.
Because I think that this is one thing you really need to get excited about. The purpose of being human.
Are you saying that the purpose of being human is to…leave and return home again and again? And I get that you might be speaking metaphorically.
Let me just direct you to what I wrote back in 72.
You were dead in 72.
I was non-physical in 72, yes. And now, in 2011, I’m writing, che? Or at least, speaking, che?