19 November 2006

What we Carry

Often thought that the things in my bags and pockets shed n light on somehow my essence, or at least paint a staccato picture of my inner world.

Wallet with it's credit cards, string of IDs over time, frequent flyer cards, a few different currencies
Bags with siddurim, pain killers, lots of water.
Shlepping back from the States with - favors - a Fender '67 Strat, three boxes of Bran Buds, and two packages of corn holders.
Celebrate, from time to time, that my pockets are no longer the place of lighters and cigarettes, contraband, and the means of its administration.
A box of a house packed in with holy books, vinyl records, a guitar I don't play, and too many computers.

Looking for an empty bag now, Ignorance by far the more valuable than knowledge.

06 November 2006

Dynamic Tension at 90 kph

So out here in the Wild West Bank there's a culture of hitchhiking. A finger pointed down means local, a finger out means long distance. There's almost always someone on the road. Since I have a car, I usually stop. But something bothers me about it. Nothing in the culture; I think it's beautiful. It's not the danger of it either, not exactly. It's that as soon as I have a hitchhiker in my car, I'm tense. The best I can formulate is that I'm socially tense. I am keenly aware of the person in the car.

I picked up a young woman tonight (okay, so she was cute, that's mostly immaterial to the progression of our story.) I made a touch of small talk, and then the silence set in. I felt the tension, palpable. It has a similar flavor every time - nothing accidental, nothing really to do with who the other person is, clearly coming from me.

I decided to face it. I pulled out my psycho-spiritual tool bag. I acknowledged it, the tension, gave myself some sympathy, stepped outside it, then a new tool - sat in the tension in a light meditation of not knowing - active not knowing, real open ignorance, then consciousness of God's name, God's presence, in everything, in me, in the the young woman next to me, in this feeling, in this tension, all the time not knowing - not needing to know.

A realization - when someone gets in your car in the West Bank, for all of the assumed nonchalance of it, they are offering you a deep trust. It creates a bond, a deep bond, a trust of life. But really - they don't know you. You're just a guy driving a car. There's a connection and no connection, a bond and no bond, a trust and a strangeness. The conversations that happen in a car seldom get to the level of intimacy that has to be present for the person to step through the door and sit down. That's the tension.

I was so excited, I told the young woman.

Now that I'm writing about it, I think it might also be the weirdness in a lot of perfunctory relationships. The salespeople in stores, the guys handing out flyers in the street. They all have eyes, souls, and the flitting relationships are an ill-fitting mask for the deep currents that underlie all human contact. It's just more pronounced in a closed car in the Wild West Bank.