Tao Te Ching, Chapter Two

The dogs know everything:

where the food is

where the other one is

where they are walking

and that sound, that smell.

Is there more?

When there is no good,

there is no better.

When there is no bad,

there is no very bad.

When there is no beginning,

there is no end.

The dogs know everything

about their moments,

and so teach me about

these moments.

And these.

And now these moments, too.

.The dog, by the way,

does not understand

its name as a name

but as a sound

a blessed sound

and so has no need

nor desire

for that sound to be

perpetuated, honored,

or enshrined,

but only spoken.

@David Weber, 2011

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Obituary

(this is a poem because I say it is. I don’t know why I wrote it, so don’t ask. In fact, don’t read it.)

Obituary

TSINGWALLER
HAROLD EVELYN “Jack” of MontMichel, Texas was born on a batting-filled mattress covered by a white, unstarched, 100% cotton percale sheet, from the womb of his mother, the former Jessica T. Southington, of Bryson, on the 17th of September, 1931.

He died of complications: too much beer, too much fear, and a genetic code born of innumerable impregnations of various women over the last several millennia.

He graduated from West Stovall High School in 1948. He is survived by everyone alive today. He was a member of the Siddartha Baptist Church, the Downtown Club of the MontMichel National Bank, and was the last active member of the Texas Communist Party. He worked briefly in the early 1960s as a file clerk in the offices of Sturm and Drang, an accounting firm, before entering oblivion through the doors of obscurity. He had several dogs and was known to have enjoyed medieval erotic literature in his later years.

At the time of his death on Friday night, “Jack” was folding the morning papers into a plastic bag to be deposited in the trash. A pain tore through the left side of his chest, and simultaneously, his left arm and neck. He dropped the bag and it and the papers were falling to the floor as the wall of his left ventricle burst open. His adrenal gland poured into the synaptical canals of his brain and he lost consciousness with the white vision of a wastebasket reflecting the buckle on his sixth grade teacher’s shoe, filling and defining his last moments of being.

He wanders now in the Elysian Fields just outside the perceptible dimensions that encompass Farm to Market Road #834 south of MontMichel, near the old gin.

A memorial service will be held in the chapel of Ramsbottom and Sons Funeral Home on Wednesday at 1:00. In lieu of flowers, few other things in life really matter.

 

David B.Weber, 2007

Lola, 2004-2009, beloved friend

Lola, our five year old golden retriever, died yesterday. She was a chubby little thing and we took a walk in the too-hot midday sun. While it was a walk we had taken many times before, this time she could not catch her breath and we were not near enough to cooling water. I carried her, tried to revive her, but I was unable to help. She tried, she died. Hopefully, I will one day be able to stop second guessing myself because I loved Lola . She loved everybody. Her physical absence is today excruciating.

I wrote an article for the emailed version of “The First Morning” in October of 2006.  I reprint it today because I am unable right now to write what I will write later about Lola.

IMG_0192 Lola is our three year old yellow Lab. She is sweet in every sense of that word which humans overuse when they’re talking about their pets. She will fetch, over and over, any ball that fits into her mouth, until she is exhausted from running. At almost 80 pounds, she still stands by the chair I’m sitting in waiting for me to pat my lap as a signal to her to “crawl on up here.”

Last night, I was outside, it was about 10:00. I was reading and Lola was sitting beside me, her head resting on my knee. As happens once in a while, in a field across the highway, about ¾ of a mile from our backyard, a pack of coyotes began howling and barking. Now that’s always a remarkable sound, which usually goes on for several minutes. Perhaps a hunt has been consummated, maybe females are being called, or some danger is near. Whatever the cause, it is a sound of wildness that calls to my imagination.

And this night, Lola heard that call, too. She left my side when it began and walked to the middle of the yard and sat down, her attention fully focused in the direction of the coyotes’ howls and barks. She was alert, but relaxed- not tense and on edge the way a noisy truck on “her” street causes her to be. She was so relaxed, as the coyote chorus continued, that she laid down sphinx-like, very still and totally concentrating on the not-so-faraway sounds.

What was she hearing? This was a sound from far beyond the normal barking she hears when we take our dogs on walks and dachshunds, pit bulls, or other retrievers bark at our trespassing. Nor did Lola react to the sounds of these coyotes like she does when dogs behind fences bark at us on our walks. Fence-barkers are reacted to by Lola with much false bravado and silly gnashing of teeth. Lola is pretty much a sissy, though, and runs the other way if she perceives in any way that the fence protecting her has a weak link somewhere.

As I watched Lola listening to the coyotes, I believe I was watching her responding to the eons of DNA wound through every one of her bodily cells. Retrievers, as a breed of dog, have only been around for several hundred years. But they, like every Chihuahua, Great Dane, Pit Bull, and new little Foo-Foo of the month, have ancient common ancestors among the wolves of Northern Europe and Asia, and more recent ancestral cousins among the dingoes of Australia and the coyotes of North America. I think; no, I know, that Lola was hearing a real call of the wild. It was a call to the wild in her that she has, through breeding and spoiling, no idea how to respond to. But she can hear it. She can feel it.

clip_image004When the barking and howling stopped, Lola sat back up. She looked back at me, as her ‘real world’ was coming back into focus. I went over and hugged and ‘talked dog’ to her. It just felt to me- maybe I’m making all this up, but I don’t think so- it felt to me like there was a longing in Lola that could never, would never, be able to be expressed. The life of the pack, as her 1000X great-grandmothers knew that pack life, will never be part of Lola’s experience. But I could see that some deep and real genetic chord in her had been sounded. And she had enjoyed it.

I often wonder how many of those ancient and genetically ripe moments catch our own human attentions. Most people respond to the seashore in ways which cause them to describe it as “beautiful” or “awesome.” But those words, they also know, even as they are saying them, do little to describe what the ocean is really making them feel. That feeling is the real response to the ancient, genetically sensitive, call which the ocean makes on most people.

Most, but not all. While significant and numerous communities of humans lived over hundreds of generations by ocean shores, their DNA codes being sculpted by the foods, winds, and climates there, there were other communities with ancient histories living inland. Some people today are affected by mountains or deep forests in the same way as others are affected by the oceans. Some communities, many of them around the world, never left the base of the mountains where life-giving streams full of fish and clams were present. Others hunted and gathered in the forests and the edges of forests. Their present day descendents might feel their calls to the wild in the scent of pine, the taste of wild onions, or, in ways very different from the way Lola heard them, the howls of wolves, dingoes, or coyotes. (“Run!”)

Something which all humans in all places seem to share is a fascination with fire. In a shared setting especially, where the fire is purposefully built and controlled, the fire-fascination of people is that same kind of fascination which comes from beyond words, beyond the need for language. Fire, shared and communal, is always quieting, always a cause for reflection and wonder. It is settling. That kind of shared, life-enhancing fire is something which the majority of persons in everyone’s family trees depended on, gathered around, slept near, and were made warm by. Our genetic, human DNA was shaped by that warmth; it is not serendipity or even mere coincidence that we are, as humans, attracted to it. It is inevitable. We can’t stay away from it.

On beyond the campfires, mountain streams, forest glens, ocean waves, and calls of the coyote, there is another even more ancient and powerful call. All humans have that call in common, too. The Apostle Paul said that even the trees and rocks hear it. I’ll write about that call later in the week.

God Damn Dog Fighting (Again)

Dogfighting Subculture Is Taking Hold in Texas

from today’s New York Times:

By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.

HOUSTON — The two undercover agents were miles from any town, deep in the East Texas countryside, following a car carrying three dogfighting fanatics and a female pit bull known for ripping off the genitals of other dogs. …….[etc.,etc.]

dog fighting

Somewhere, in some obscure lexicon of the Inquisition, or in the dictionaries of Bergen-Belsen or Treblinka, or perhaps in the indexes of Jonestown, My Lai, or Abu Ghraib- in some collection of heart-ripping words like those collections must represent, there might be found the right words to describe this despicable practice of that particular debris which postures in human form.

Go ahead, knee jerk reactionary, blame it on the breed. Swallow the media’s fear-mongering use of the sharply spit, so easily spoken description, pit bull. Make it easy on yourself to hate, to fear, to write off en masse a whole species by allowing those with a vested interest in making you afraid of everything outside the walls of your flat-screen television to tell you how, what, and with what degree of terror to think.

And above all, don’t dare look too hard or too long into the eyes of the dog pictured above. Because it’s impossible to not see the confused hunger for human attention and affection pouring from that dog’s one good eye, isn’t it? Deep within his/her genes the synchronistic and ancient communal relationship between humans and dogs is still pulsing, still resounding. Don’t you just know that dog’s tail is wagging at the photographer’s brief attention?

For the record, here’s the kind of pit bull our grand-parents and great grand-parents grew up with, and that many of us can remember watching on television, before the words “pit” and “bull” were twisted around the pricks of drug-addled thugs and  and turned into pornographic metaphors for manhood and virility:

petehomeimage

Yeah, it’s “Petey” of the Our Gang films. Petey– whose descendents would one day be hauled in the back of a pick up truck to obscure locations in Texas (and Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, and..hell..wherever bloody handsful of hundred dollar bills are regarded as orgasmic) and starved  before being placed in a cage surrounded by sweating, screaming Michael Vick wannabes and then rewarded for tearing off the genitals or out the eyes of the other frightened scared dog in the same cage, or drowned or head-bashed the next morning for failing to do so.

Look at those eyes, go ahead..once more. One of them belongs to the dog. And one of them belongs to us..

 

A Respite from the Muck and Mire of Fundamentalism

I find the whole subject of fundamentalism tortuous. But I also know that one of the best ways to eradicate bacteria and mold is to expose them to the Light. So I will continue doing that, but I needed a break, and Graciel offered me one today with “What Do You Love?”at her blog, Evenstar Art, which everyone should go read frequently. It’s an antidote for many things. She writes:

“Today, I want you to quiet your monkey-mind. The part of your mind that swings wildly from one illusion to another. From one worry to another. From one judgement to another. I want you to practice focusing the part of your mind that leads you into made-up trouble on something positive. Practice focusing for one minute. Yes, just one minute. I want you to think about what you love. Not who you love. That’s another minute. This minute, I want you to think about what you love. Because it takes a bit of concentration and the monkey-mind must come to a rest while thinking positive thoughts.”

So here is my own one minute (or so) list of things I love:

*the golden finches which devour the sunflower seeds I put out for them this time of year

*the two soaring pines in the neighbor’s yard and the two single-note wind chimes that hang from them

*Wednesday nights

*the vultures at the lake, so crazily beautiful in their bigness and boldness

*sitting outside when the coyotes across the highway begin their howling

*the house in Ohio where I grew up. I walk through it frequently in memory

*Salem and Lola (OK, I’m cheating- they are both who’s to me, but since they are dogs I’m passing them off here as what’s)

*pick a beach, any one where salt water is lapping will do

*van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

*Madonna singing “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” (Yes, I know, odd. Deal with it.)

*thinking about and writing Sunday messages

*listening to stories that have never been told before

*Rumi

*the Moon, as it rises between those same two pine trees

*reading (again) Matthew 5- 7, and 25; John 1, 14, and 15; Genesis; and Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Revelation (the latter three because it’s just so strange for them to be in the Bible)

Yes, that took me more than a minute. You have my (and, I think, Graciel’s) permission to take more than a minute with your own list, too.

God Damn Dog Fighting

(That’s a prayer, by the way..)

It looks like Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick will feel the revulsion of the NFL for his off-the-field pastime of dog fighting, as Commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to announce Vick’s suspension this week for the 07-08 season.

Hopefully, Nike and other members of Vick’s endorsement gravy train will follow suit.

Any doubts about what the NFL is doing to Vick? This should eliminate any thoughts of “unfairness” someone might still be harboring:

dogfighting

That’s what a human fingerprint looks like, gouged into a pit bull’s face. If it’s nauseating, that’s my point. It is meant to be.

It is almost unfathomable at times what humans are capable of doing to animals. Dog fighting, cock fighting, exotic animal hunting, and even rattlesnake round ups are systemic manifestations of the religiously chauvinistic attitude that humans are at top of the food chain and, therefore, “have dominion..over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1: 28) That single biblical phrase, twisted in the minds of men who measure their virility by the blood they can cause to flow from other living beings, or by the neglect they have institutionalized under the agenda of economic development, puts us- this generation- directly in the path of what has been called the Sixth Great Extinction.

440 million years ago, 85% of marine animals were wiped out in the First Great Extinction. 367 million years ago, many fish and 70% of marine invertebrates met their doom. 245 million years ago, 95% of all animal species died. 208 million years ago, another extinction of sea animals primarily, but also some land animals took place. And 65 million years ago, 3/4 of all species, including the dinosaurs, were eliminated.

All of these five great extinctions occurred because of volcanic eruptions, meteorite strikes, and changing climates. This sixth great extinction is one we are able to witness and one which we are largely the cause of. (Statistics from Earth Policy Institute)

It is estimated that 10 million species inhabit the earth with humans. And each year, 1000s of these species, including microrganisms, are lost forever. Deforestation, mining, urbanization, and ocean pollution and over harvesting are the primary reasons.

How do the attitudes and actions of Michael Vick fit into this dismal picture?

Perfectly.

As long as our human and predominate worldview is one which regards everything outside of ourselves as, well, outside of ourselves, then the abuse and death of pit bulls behind barns in the Virginia countryside, as well as the poaching deaths of Mountain Gorillas in the Congo, will continue. As long we crush our natural empathetic response to other living beings, with the mechanistic attitude that we’re in control of the toolbox, then it will continue to be easy to regard other species as things– in our way, expendable, toys for our amusement, even trash.

Imagine the outcome of a democratic vote by the world’s species on which species should be next in line for extinction?

Amen