You are like the drawn and quartered man, except you are the one tying the ropes to yourself. Some ropes are secret, some public. The ropes are then tied to a thousand different approaches to being, some fantastical, some not.
The necessity of the dog park?
When too lazy to walk the dog, and too guilty to simply take her down to a patch of grass for quick business, I have resorted to utilizing the dog park as a means of satisfying this condition.
Back when I had Babushka and exploring the urban trails in Austin was entirely new, the first dog park I discovered was the one at the corner of Riverside and I-35. It became a regular destination for us, as we’d go there at least once a month when we lived nowhere near it and twice a week when we did.
Auditorium Shores wasn’t fenced in, Red Bud Isle always lacked parking, Bull Creek was too far of a drive, and the Clarksville dog park was always full of people who made us feel unwelcome there–hipsters and yupsters from the neighborhood who resented outsider intrusions into their little club.
I can remember always thinking that the City must be on the verge of stripping it out and selling it to a developer or using it to help improve Town Lake trail access once they finally extended the trail to go all the way around the lake.
My next dog, Taffy, is not nearly as sociable and willing to go make friends of her own volition, so I’ve tended to go there much less frequently. The purpose of finding a place for a dog to run and play while you read a book or doze off a hangover gets defeated if your dog just wants to stay plopped down by your side. But, we seem to continue to find ourselves there on a fairly regular basis.
I was hardly surprised to read an article recently that the city is finally making plans to develop the area. It hardly “fits” with the vision of the kind of city planner that redeveloped the area around Auditorium Shores and the Palmer Events Center. I was also not surprised to see that keeping part of the area as a dog park was not in the city’s plans. This, after all, is the city that invested $70K in an “art” pooper scooper + marketing campaign to educate dog owners about picking poop.
I don’t agree with some of the harsher comments I read under the article that were leveled at the type of people who frequent the dog park. (Of course, the Statesman is well-known for keeping a coterie of asshole commenters under its articles that tend to scare more reasonable folks away.) Anyway, there is a point though to this, and that is I agree with the general sentiment that the dog park, in its current form, is more of a blight than a benefit. I refused to participate in improving it, and I can’t complain when the City is ready to put real money and effort into improving it.
If given the choice between seeing Town Lake trail extended from behind the Statesman to the other side of I-35, and the dog park staying around, I’ll take the former choice every time.
Every twist and turn of thought sees you angling for a different master. You go for months placing trust in your own rootless, shiftless words flitting about in your head, rather than the clear cold spring you’ve buried deep in your heart. You trust your intellect when people at work flatter you. You trust the daily news to provide you with a gauge of how prepared you should be for the end of days. You trust magic pills from the natural health section of the supermarket to pick you up and put you to sleep. You trust your government and big corporations to not shit on you too much, and do most of their shitting on the least of these. You trust your favorite talking heads on television and disembodied voices of radio to speak the truth about politics and religion to you.
You trust your own body not to fail on you today, and trust your mirrored face to win you friends and impress people. You trust your computer to provide you with access to fun, money and knowledge of what’s “really out there.” You trust loved ones and neighbors to jump in and be there for you if you do find yourself in a state of emergency. You trust your dog to be a resource of pure heart love when there are no others to be found. You separate the Lord Jesus from your basic moral compass, your innate conscience, and place trust in the latter, sans the Lord.
Then, all of these let you down, and you go crying to the Lord Jesus, “why have you forsaken me?”
The real tragedy isn’t the grandiose Atheist, proclaiming her complete and utter separation from the Holy of Holies. The much more frightening, sinister and hidden tragedies are the little ones you commit each day when you ever-so-slightly shift your faith away in a matter of seconds to someone or something else.
So, you renew your trust utterly and completely in the Lord Jesus. After all, why bother believing in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving deity, if you aren’t going to completely put your trust in him all the time?
Your brain has been in a state of screaming for several days now, racing to find the next opportunity. You eye the lists that others have made, and check them against your own list. Something isn’t adding up. You once thought that a special key was all you needed to unlock these doors, but maybe they aren’t doors at all. How sad to hear the story of a prisoner deceived into thinking that his walls were really doorways to freedom!
The next opportunity used to come so quickly. Of course, they were all mirages, but they appeared anew each week, got you excited, and pushed you onward or pulled you toward them.
You are finally beginning to understand the meaning behind all those dreams of running through old buildings chock full of corridors and labyrinths that never take you back to where you started.
Such is the landscape of Time itself, you think.
Time isn’t linear in the sense of being one endless straight line. Nor is it flush with multiple dimensions and realities that could transport you across its landscape.
Time is an interwoven series of choices that cumulate into the most statistically probably future. These choices are limited by the natural landscape–the spatial dimensions themselves–including our own bodies.
To walk back through every door you’ve already closed would require a vastly superior intelligence or an enormous amount of luck.
Your brain should cease the search for an escape route and begin a new process of discovery–or, to be more accurate, continue the same process you’ve known most of your life as a writer, without the constant nagging of the will to be somewhere else, someone else. Within these walls there might be another option besides the most obvious one of ennui. There might instead be the option of the Kingdom of Heaven.
There is something in the air that is tweaking your latent primal instincts. A storm is brewing, where being careful, reasoned, thoughtful, considerate, caring, meek, patient, prudent and/or wise is worth nothing. Like the value of the American dollar, the decent American values are no longer currency worth having. The rest of the world has finally caught up to learning the worst lessons America has taught it, and soon will pass her in both greed and fortune.
People are taking sides like never before and the peacemakers now appear to be cursed beyond measure.
Tuning into the higher spheres for inspiration is yielding only an insane sort of greed–a need to make the self God, then self destruct. Every message sent from planes beyond seems to come from Lucifer, and the Kingdom of Heaven barely whispers from within.
Every man fancies himself a prophet, everyone is obsessed with image, needing instant validation for each and every thought they fart out. Everyone barely controls a hissy fit when they don’t get their way, and are required to stop and help another human being. You say a prayer that the children of today’s children will laugh at their parents for being so obsessed with status updates and iPhone self-portraits. But, you also won’t be surprised if today’s children never have any children of their own, out of a need to keep all of their attention on the people who really matter: themselves.
You, of course, are more like today’s children than like their parents, and that’s how you know these things, and can say these things. You can sense what’s coming, and you want to know it, to be a prophet, too, but you don’t see clearly enough. You have been struck blind and left to rot within these walls, grimly hoping and sorely lacking true Faith.
…to the true nature of your surroundings. You prided yourself this time on no longer being a true believer, Koolaid drinker or honeymooner. This was, brass tacks, a way to get away from the nightmare environment and make a few bucks to stay off the street.
But, it’s so easy to fall into that seductive trap of believing that your opinions really do matter to people, or that your creativity is being put to good use. You should know better by now that if you’ve done little or no work to earn the praise, then it’s likely to be nothing more than flattery to generate more menial tasks from you, and to keep you earning a lot less than you deserve.
It’s funny being engaged, too. You can quickly spot the kind of woman, who at previous jobs, would get just flirty enough with you to get you to do some crappy random task she should have done herself. You would develop a crush on her, and then she would cease to speak to you once you’d finished handling all of her unwanted projects. This kind of woman, now that you’re engaged, seems to almost despise you since she can see right away her charms won’t work as well as they might have a year or more ago.
You can see all around you these shitty little power struggles, and people withholding knowledge about the business from you–because if you had a little more of it, you would know everything they know plus have your mad web skills that they don’t have.
The environment is so artificial, too. You market stuff to marketers. You live and breathe a world of dog and pony shows, where nobody really gets hurt and no real problems get solved. It’s debatable whether any real work gets done, either. What do you make? What of your work do people use to live their lives and be happy?
The smiles are fake, the office is fake, and it sits on the outskirts of a Disneyesque village. You work among people worried about Charlie Sheen and basketball brackets.
Really–when does the mask come off, when does the set collapse, the performers fall out of character, the stage lights go out, the music stop, the audience go home and you step back out into the real world where people are struggling just to survive?
You wake up in the middle of a conversation about RFID chips embedded in products. A co-worker (hopefully, jokingly) states that soon you will all have them in your foreheads. Someone else in the meeting eagerly chimes in with a description of a scene from Minority Report. You hope for their sake they are joking, but it sounds like they are primed, ready and eager to enter into the New World Economy with their foreheads clearly marked.
Everyone is buying and selling fantasies, and China, along with the developing world, are providing the infrastructure to make this happen. How could anyone possibly ever wake up if they have been sleeping for years here? Of course, you’d love to wake up and go pick oranges, clean stables or resuscitate hearts, but you’re in too deep, your bed is too soft.
One day, you think, there will be a moment when this environment gets so fake and the advertisements so shrill that it will break like glass, revealing all of the blood and shit upon which it rests. Then, you will have to choose forever–go with the ones who are colonising Lucifer’s Utopia, or lose everything but your soul.
…as if a rude bouncer has thrown you out of the club for not being cool enough, or perhaps he just didn’t like you. You step outside and you are on the outside of the passers-by who honk and wave good morning at each other. You check your friend feed and you are on the outside of their jokes, their pop culture knowledge, and their love. You are stared at by groups of co-workers gathering round the coffee pot, clearly outside of whatever inspires the morning conversation. You try to insert yourself at random moments, and they squeeze you back out as if you were a watermelon seed pressed between the fingers.
You cry out to God, but you know you are on the outside of his will and plan looking in, trying to decipher what they are and what they mean.
You are on the outside of fatherhood, youth, old age, school, a real career, real seasons, real life, real death, real Time and real reality.
“Would you care to join us?” asks some naive wretch. Her/his friends all look down at their shoes, for they would like nothing more for you to remain on the outside of them and what they are about.
“Jesus,” you cry, “am I on the outside of you, are you not in my heart at all?” Jesus passes a vision of a recent sin, and confirms you are on the outside of him, looking in, and he has been yet again squeezed by you to the outside of your heart.
Each band of misfits, rejects, blasphemers, perverts, lepers, nerds, geeks, dweebs, dorks and freaks circles their wagons and draws a line demarcating clearly where you can stand.
Each year you grow more to the outside of sight itself, until one day, you won’t even get to be a spectator, a man who lives vicariously.
What is this strange not-place you know so well? Was there once a great comfort to be derived from never being on the inside? Is there a greater Truth awaiting you, where all that came before was merely the product of your wayward imagination?
Surely all that you are due in life can still be achieved by modifying the language of your physiognomy. The face that really matters is your own, right? The mysteries surrounding any failed social situation can be found in the mirror…
Such a pathetic habit for one to have. The real mirrors, of course, are the faces of others, and that all-important face inside of you that reflects your naked soul.
The mirror is a fine tool for removing unwanted blemishes and straightening what’s left of the hair, but for a program of self improvement, it is nothing less than a prison.