It wasn't that long ago. I remember when I met lil' Oen.
I wasn't there for the birth. I missed the actual delivery. We met when I think he was maybe three, four or five. Just barely a kid. I missed all of the rolling around cradle head banging and drool competitions. I heard however, some of the learning to crawl days were among his happiest. My late arrival well, to this day, was my loss.
His first steps. Falling on his butt. Missed it. The squish. The smell. Clean up time. Missed it. Learning to walk and speak his first words. How exciting to have been there for that. Not knowing what any of them meant, but nevertheless speaking his truths as sincerity and discovery mated for the first time(s). For those of us lucky, blessed, relaxed or lonely enough to have accidentally or purposely found or gotten lost in his neighborhood and then to have actually met him and mingled in his all are welcome crowd, it was clear that this lil' kid was, if nothing else, not afraid of squat.
Everybody hung. Punks, little old ladies, ex-disgruntled professors, foul mouthers, skin divers, politicians on prozac, legends in their own minds, truly human American patriots born in Russia, paramilitary informant wannabes, invisible snipers (as usual with rubber bullets included), tonic salesmen, beef eaters, vegans, gloriously gifted wordsmiths, passionate and com passionate believers in peace, lovers of hate, intellectuals (both kinds, the ones who could impart, teach and then listen.....and the other kind, the kind who are certain they have nothing left to learn), minor league click on this link masters, major league bores, paradigm pushers, history lauders and historical revisionists, pro and anti-lifers who battle back and forth about the time or times it's ok to kill a human, sincere truthers, conspiracy worshippers, liars, skeptics and cons, poets, cartoonists, songwriters, utopia dealers, the End is coming standups, the Naz is coming so you'd better climb on VIP's, seventy four year young vessels of life's connected wisdoms, thirty year young ultra-hip ultra-happening welloffs who were and are still way off.....they were all hanging here. Some of them still are, but along the way, for reasons we are well aware of but not all that good at applying, this once vibrant neighborhood has started to take on the qualities of a residential district.<
I know the reasons and the necessities for the filtering out of, or the defining of what is or is not acceptable. I understand the weight of ownership. It is heavy (The Hollies nailed it). But I also understand that the business of opinion, perspective and the sincerest searching and reaching for alternative solutions to all this chaos we've created, in all its gloriously ugly beauty is, by its very nature, ultimately just as self destructive as it is creative. One man's revolution born from the mud of the purest suffering turns eventually into just another form of what he or she fought so hard to overcome. It is interesting that in our struggle to be heard, as we take those steps to being heard and win ears and hearts along the way, we slowly and almost without noticing lose our ability to listen and to hear the gurgling from the place we've just departed. The very qualities we relied on most to take our first steps are silently replaced by what we now allow ourselves to hear, not what all is actually being spoken.
I remember. What a neighborhood! The widest of angles.
The colors and shapes infinite. I remember the orange and pink houses. The eighteen wheel taxis. Guys who ironed their underware. Ladies who spit. Hard asses who hugged. Angry fathers. Wannabe economists who lived on cosines, cold pizza and warm coke. Many of us parted with a few hard earned ducats, as much as we could afford, to keep our lil' engine churning because we loved the purring sound of the truth. Loud and soft and compelling and sensitive and hurtful and selfish, but most of all, shared voices that defined collectively, a world much larger than any one voice could alone. But then sadly, as happens sometimes in the transition from idealist to realist, lil' Oen grew up and is now what it is not.
I miss the lil' guy. Give me back the blemishes, the spilt milk, the verbal bombs, the catastrophes of human attempt. It was ugly. It was beautiful.
Nobody was killed. No one died from the verbal carnage that spewed from the multicolored tree forts that sprang up throughout lil' Oen's hood.
Oh sure, there was much hurt. Lots of it. Tons. Nasty venom and then some. But, as most of us can attest, much of what we, with good intent condemn as unacceptable, reveals more about us than it does about those condemned. That floating border we can never honestly locate doesn't stop us from showing others they have crossed it.
Something happened here. Maybe it's all natural. History has shown us we do this quite often. I'm not sure how in fact to describe it, except to say I wish we hadn't.
I miss the colors. Even the darkest ones. I miss the hurt. Not that I think hurt is desirous, but that it is somewhere in our shared lives and in our ability to see the us in there, that that is the greatest spot for getting on with good human understanding.
We build lots of prisons for ourselves. There are many kinds. Many do not have bars.
Though it sounds like I am, my wish here is to make no judgments. I am still lil' Oen's guest and for me that does not give me anything more than a spot at his table should I agree to his house rules. And I do because I choose to.
But I also know that I have his word that I can, without contempt or hurtful tone and freely, say that as I've watched him and all of us grow, our lil' neighborhood is showing telling signs of the loss of its collective voice. A kind of privatization of ideas has entered the garden. The tic-tac-toeing of these once open spaces that graced our collective are popping up all over the joint.