Tag Archives: Self-sacrifice

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #44

(I must be tired… forgot to post the title of this blog post…)

Fate, yes.  Some Earthian friend of long ago called it karma.  Whatever it was I would pit myself against, I would serve Earth again.  The people would never know but she would know.  She would be grateful.  “Ich diene.”
[end blog post #43]


[begin blog post #44]

Chapter 20 –  Goodbye until the End of Time

The day drags on, yet the moments fly.  I strain to hear sounds from the kitchens that indicate Deirdre is there, working and in her inimitable way, amusing the other workers without seeming to do so, right under the eyes of their guards. 

Why am I torturing myself so?  I act as if I were a pubescent girl in love for the first time with a man who pays no attention to her.  Damn.  What a predicament.  Now I can understand what those poor Earthians went through with their own personal love affairs I thought were so stupid.  Now I certainly could empathize.  Now I’m living their pain.  What a terrible thing this inloveness is!  And the worse is yet to come.

I dread the time of evening meal.  She will come out, unaware, innocent, and will give me my bowl with her beautiful hands, the long fingers shamelessly running over my skin, her hair brushing my bare shoulders.  She will lean against me for a few moments before moving on and returning into the kitchens.  And I will never see her again.

The sun has gone behind the battlements and Albaral has not risen yet.  We end our training for the day; put away the wooden and rough or worn out fibresteel weapons we train with.  Wash and get in line for count, inspection and finally our evening meal.

Two of our own have not returned from the arena.  I should feel something for them, I know, compassion and a real sense of personal loss, not necessarily in that order.  But what I feel is envy.  I’m jealous of their new found freedom.  Death means it’s over, all the pain and suffering we are made to endure; that so many endure all over this world.  Death means we find peace finally.  We can fly away free for as long as we wish it.  Death is our blessed realm.

Of course that is an incomplete picture, but my mind is not into completing images right now.  I feel torn and shattered.  The count and inspection complete we line up at the tables and sit, waiting silently for our meal.  The clattering in the kitchens stops and silent young servant women file out, each with two bowls in hand, passing them out.  Deirdre is not among them.  Again I’m paralyzed by fear that something happened, that our plan was discovered, that they’ve taken her to kill her.  I can barely eat, yet I must so as not to arouse suspicion.   

The meal over we wash our faces quickly as we pass the washing troughs, then file into the cage compound, each to our own.  In the gloom I see a young woman in my cage, and for a moment I think it’s Deirdre but it is not.  She could pass for Deirdre in size and no guard recognizes the subterfuge.  I don’t know where they found her or how they got her into my cage but it satisfies the official count.  I sit next to her and she moves against me, crawling between my legs as the young ones often do, like young animals seeking a mother’s warmth and protection.  I hold her lightly and wait.  More lights go out and there is the usual noise of the changing of the guard outside, only with much less volume than usual.  Many less men out there.  Then as the automatic alarm systems fully set themselves, no one remains in the yards to accidentally trigger the sensors. 

Rising Albaral is hidden behind phosphorescent-edged clouds above the keep.

With night comes the expected storm.  I can hear the thunder far away and soon the wind comes up.  Heavy drops of rain spatter far above on the tiled roofs, sparsely at first, then increasing to a true downpour. Distant lightning flashes and my heart beats as loud as the thunder.  After a time a trainer comes to my cage and opens it.  The young woman, startled begins to stand.  She is ordered to lie down in the straw and to not make a move: she won’t.  Guided by the Cydroid-trainer’s extended arm I step out and follow.  In the gloom I see two guards carrying the body of a woman towards one of the southern portals.  Deirdre?  It has to be!  It opens and I want to run out to her and at the very least, whisper goodbye.  The false trainer grabs me and whispers my task again. 

“You have twenty minutes now to lay the marks.  I will wait for you inside the wall and return you to your cell.  Your friend is fine.”

I run out as if I were making for the crossing, then turn sharply, digging in the muddy sand to leave impressions, run down to the water and go in silently, gliding through the deep waters.  For a moment I can even enjoy the sensation of swimming, even though the water is icy.  Reaching the far side, I run up the bank far enough for my footprints to get lost in the shifting sands.  I steal one moment to stand and stretch in the breeze, outside the keep, giving myself a momentary illusion of freedom. 

I carefully retrace the steps, backward over the first set until I’m in the water, turn and, as silently as before swim back across the moat.  I take a different path along hard ground and rock, back to the portal that immediately hisses shut.  The false trainer leads me back to my cage.  It’s now empty.  I understand the simplicity of that part of the plan here:  I go in with Deirdre; a trainer orders me out of my cage in the night and makes me walk outside the walls and back.  When I return Deirdre is gone.  Meanwhile in reality my false companion is returned wherever she came from and cannot be found to be interrogated.  In any case, she would have no story to tell except she was put in the wrong cage, in the wrong line-up.  She could not know why the mistake was made.  My lies and her innocence almost guarantee a dead-end.

I spend the night transfixed in thorough angst, ice running through my veins – feeling more alone than I remember ever having felt.

I look up through the only opening visible where sometimes you can see a star or two, or where Albaral crosses.  It’s still dark and raining so if they reach the craft in time, assuming they have a reliable carrier that won’t be grounded by lightning, it will have gone through the clouds and become invisible quickly. I can see and imagine the shuttle craft streaking across the skies picking up speed to vanish on its way to Koron, a trip that should take the small craft just a bit over six months shunting time.  How I long at this moment, to be aboard that craft!

Goodbye until the end of time! 

“Don’t look back when you reach the new shore,
Don’t forget what you’re leaving me for,
Don’t forget when you’re missing me so,
Love must never hold,
Never hold tight but let go.

Oh the nights will be long,
When I’m not in your arms,
But I’ll be in your song,

That you sing to me, across the sea.
Somehow, someday, you will be far away,
So far from me and maybe one day,
I will follow you,
‘Til then, send me a song.”

(excerpt from “Send me a Song” by Celtic Woman)

And I cry for us, for her, for me. 

Not all of it is sad. 

I take comfort in the Cydroid’s words of certainty.  She is safe.  What else matters? 

For now I must try to find some sleep.  Tomorrow we will be subjected to the inevitable investigation.  Escapes, even attempted ones, are taken most seriously here as I’ve seen.  If the investigators cannot arrive at logical conclusions regarding the events, they will arrest individuals at random and send them to be interrogated by the inquisitors.  Most will never return.  They will be made to endure the most extreme sophistication of torture ever devised by pseudo-humans, either to extract information (the lesser reason) or satisfy the torturer’s lusts. 

Since Deirdre is my friend and known as my lover, I will certainly be one of those chosen for the inquisition.  Ah well, it’s the price you pay for loving, for caring, for standing out in some way and for upsetting the status quo which I’ve already done much of.  I know in my heart that even if I had nothing to do with Deirdre they would come for me.  I’ve been on their list of suspected subversives for some years now, whomever ‘They’ be.

This I must share here: my experiences on Old Earth taught me well as regards those we are forced to call ‘They’ in referring to ‘Powers’ we know exist but cannot identify because they are chameleonic in nature and use humans to camouflage their evil works.  We’ve always known ‘They’ exist and have power of life and death over us, never mind how many legal ‘rights’ or safeguards we are given under the law.  Whenever we choose right over wrong in their viewpoint and according to their arbitrary rules we are targeted as the enemy; terrorists, subversives, spies and in many cases we forfeit our lives to them.  So, let me emphasize that ‘They’ are very real to me. 

I must sleep now.
[end blog post #44]

 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #43

(Sorry, a bit late on posting this next segment.  Enjoy anyway!)

It is the way of it. 

And I’m sick to death of hearing that damned expression that says it all for all of us.  How can I communicate abstract ideas to these people?  They express white noise for thoughts and they have the limited vocabulary of a three year old Earthian child, exceptions noted.
[end blog post #42]


[begin blog post #43]

Chapter 19 – “Ich diene”

The training session and meal over we are returned to our cages.  Later, Deirdre is let in.  I realize that it is going to be during that interim tomorrow night I’m to be let out of my cage by a Cydroid disguised as a trainer or handler and Deirdre will be carried out into the desert; that I won’t see her after tomorrow.  Even more painful, I’m sworn to silence and cannot tell her that as of tomorrow we won’t be together and may well never see each other again in the flux of space/time.

Long ago I swore to myself I would learn of detachment.  On Altaria I went on many long walks, quests for peace of mind and steadiness of heart.  As I surveyed the beauty of my world I practiced the art of detachment.  Altarians number in the billions all over many worlds.  Only a relative few ever remain on Altaria, for it is not a permanent place for us, just our port in the galactic oceans.  It is a place of rest between assignments we give ourselves.  Some of us, particularly those who are called ‘WindWalkers’ or ‘Avatari’ can be gone for millions of years, even more, before we find our way back home.  We are galactic wanderers, sailors of space.  Yet when we come home we can get attached to its gentleness, softness, peace, tranquility, but mostly it’s the complete lack of pain or suffering or sense of loss we get attached to.  It can become difficult to leave again.  So we are taught detachment by the few ancients who remain there to care for those who return, to heal the minds and encourage those who must leave again. 

I’ve always felt that what we are taught of detachment at home is an illusion.  I think the ancients know this too, but allow us to discover it on our own.  They equip us to go with a story that makes sense only until it is tested.  A truly detached ISSA, seems to me, at this point at least, is an oxymoron. 

Now I’m losing the love of my life; of this particular life.  I’ve done all I could to see her leave, knowing she has no future here.  And tomorrow evening I’ll watch her go and never see her again.  My heart is already tearing apart as I feel her against me and smell her breath and skin; listen to her soft breathing and the rustling of her toes in the dry straw as is her habit to grasp straws in her toes and twirl them. 

“Practicing dexterity and flexibility.” she explained to me long ago.  “They taught us never to stop pushing our abilities to do things with our bodies, impossible moves are not impossible.”  She can tie knots with her toes; stand straight up with only one hand on the ground.  Do at least ten back flips without missing a beat, even jumping over obstacles while doing it; casually throw a leg over her head and turn her head back almost a full one hundred and eighty degrees.  She makes incredible faces to make the saddest person laugh – if it were permitted here.

“What’s wrong Antierra?”  She breaks into my train of thought, sensing my disquiet and inner pain.

I reply instantly, without hesitation, according to the advice I’ve received from the Cydroid.  ‘Feign anger.’

“I’m angry from today’s sessions.  I think some fighters are getting lazy or stupid and won’t fight properly.  As if they want to die.  I’m upset at the twins for what they have become.  I blame the chakr.  Maybe they get too much.”

“It’s not the drug and you know it.  They can’t help themselves, Antierra.  Once they taste the killer juice inside their heart and find they like it, they are killers.  You should be thankful that you trained them well enough to survive their instinctive drives, no?  And that you were able to change the rules to let them fight as a team?  What more did you hope to accomplish?  They survived their first fight and they were so intensely proud.  They saw they had power too, a power that had been denied them as concubines.  It is the price we all must pay if we would reach a new level of understanding.  All of us, even you, must be prepared to pay a price.”

I want to scream at her when she utters those words.  Indeed, even I must be prepared to pay a price to reach my next level of understanding.  Indeed!  Ha, young one, the things you have yet to learn.  I bite my lip to refrain from saying anything at all.  After I regain some of my composure I say,

“Let’s not talk anymore.  Just be with each other and let this day slip away and the new one come.  Let me hold you.”

We hold each other and eventually fall asleep to be awakened by the handlers as if today was to be just another day.

There is unusual activity in the training compound.  Liveried King’s men come and commandeer a whole squad of guards and they walk off.  Handlers and trainers watch, as dumbfounded as the rest of the fighters and trainees.  Only I (and whatever Cydroids are among us) know what is going on and I try to concentrate on my work.  I drive my charges ruthlessly.  I especially seek out the one I had talked to the day before and take her on.

She whispers to me,

“I think about what you say.  You be correct.  I fight, I live.  I find secret place.  I be best you ever train.  I be no coward.”

“Good.”  That is all I can say.  I’m a welter of scattered emotions projected by feelings I have no control over.  I press the girl a few times, motion for a male trainer to take over and walk to the long line of water-tight cabinets where the real fighting weapons are kept locked.  They have been unlocked for my inspection for I have the eye for damage or imperfection on blades of all sorts.  A gift from some dark past life? More than likely.  I pretend to be absorbed in inspecting each one but really, I feel sick.  I’m afraid.  Truly afraid.  More afraid even than I’d ever experienced back when I was a child on my last natural incarnation on Old Earth in C-20.  Fear: a familiar feeling I never thought I’d encounter again after the horror of the Melkiar wars. 

Suddenly I long for one of those days during the end of those wars when we chased them across parsecs of space, sometimes being chased by them and more often cornering them and destroying them.  My crewmates called me cold then.  I spent all my waking time – considerable because of the Altarian training which can keep the body awake and fully functioning for days on end without food, stims or drugs of any kind – sweeping the deceptive emptiness of space, always searching for our invisible enemy hiding in his energy shielding cloaking devices. 

Speaking of enemy I do not mean only the external enemy.  The great enemy of any ISSA is always beside you; walking with you, shadowing you or chattering in your ear.  I’d lay in my restraining harness in zero-g of a jump scout, feeling the vibrations of the drive through the infrastructure of the machine and ‘it’ would be there with its constant suggestions to give in to personal desires and search for additional comforts or credits for ‘work well done’ as it was wont to repeat.  It would have been easy to fall asleep, not only in the harness, I mean really fall asleep.  To let my mind return to the accepted ways of Old Earth, to the drugs of endless deceptions that lead nowhere; to promises, to trust, to hope, to love, to faith, to anything but hard self-empowerment. 

Some of the male crew at first sought me out for sex and romance… or both; female crew numbered in the minority on most ships and men will be men.  I ignored them.  Those who insisted, I bathed in a frigid aura of Vaxdali polar ice.  What can I say?  I may have looked like an angel to some of those males, but angels have their own personalities and mine missed out when they handed out the “nice, sweet and warm” programming during that reincarnation.  I overdosed on ‘reason’ and ‘logic’ instead. 

I brought it up, so let me explain a bit about ‘Vaxdali.’

Vaxdal (as recorded in the database documents of the Supremacy) is a great ice world at least six times the size of Old Earth and orbits a distant sun beyond the far reaches of Orion.  It’s g-force is a crushing 1.8 times that of Earth.  It is inhabited by ice wraiths, mammoth-sized white to brown, thick-haired humanoid creatures that burrow and live miles under Vaxdal’s ice cover and feed on mineral deposit, so it is believed according to bits of unreliable data picked up from remote sensors. It has been impossible to record the number of Vaxdali who inhabit that world.  Anywhere from a few thousands to possibly a billion or even more.  Again, all computer-generated data not backed by any real solid research.

Despite the terrible dangers of flying low in Vaxdal’s atmosphere and getting trapped and pulled down by its g-force and immense magnetic storms, small groups of human sightseers with more money than brains irregularly charter trips to that place just for a computer-enhanced chance glimpse at a surfaced herd of wraiths, or Vaxdalis.  The Supremacy does not permit landing on this world and no method has yet been devised to safely set down investigators, archaeologists or anthropologists.  It is believed in the non-scientific circles of FreeNet jabber that the Vaxdalis are pseudo-human cannibals.  Who would know?  ‘Final Frontier’ legends, most likely.  But you’d laugh to see the corny and idiotic holorec and infovid F/X they’ve done on that one world alone.  Old Earth is not the only place where people seek mindless entertainment just for a chance to forget their current reality and not have to deal with it.

Back to my story.

I had no desire then for sexual contact with anyone, male, female or other – yes we get ‘other’ in many forms, especially androids who can be very persuasive and seductive.  I had no desire to get close to anyone.  I had a purity of desire to accomplish something.  The wars were dragging on and holding me back and I wanted to end them.  But it wasn’t the Melkiars I sought.  I had something deeper in mind.  I wanted to drink and eat detachment; to be able to function among a close-knit body of humans without being affected by their lower emotions.  I had a vision of the cosmos waiting for me to explore.  Of moving through dimensions without a body, incarnating here and there as needed: unattached yet able to feel, but in a non-personal way.  Seeking knowledge and adding to the great store of it.  Being “me” everywhere and anywhere – always free from any attachment beyond my own quest; my own thirst for knowledge. 

I dreaded the idea of having someone, a mate, a child, in tow.  Love?  No thank you.  Been there, done that; don’t work as we used to say!  What I dreaded more than anything was the inescapable, constant drag of human emotional baggage. 

In a way I got my wish.  We were scouting a round in a complex field of tumbling asteroids and debris caused by the destruction of a moon, I and my android partner A. Kale at the controls of a Class B destroyer when we came under blitzkrieg attack.  Two Melkiars dove at us literally from within a hollowed out asteroid where our sensors had, for a quantum moment, been blinded.  Taking us in a pincer move they jointly blasted us just as we returned a barrage of fire-power that blew up both of the Melkiars and the asteroid to cosmic dust. 

But we had received a killing blow.  Com was dead.  Life support non-functional and the aft section where the suits are kept in readiness had been sliced off along with our drive, not that those suits would have done much good without a ship or contact with fleet. 

All twenty of our crew complement died within minutes from shock and exposure as what remained of our ship careened out of control and pulverized itself in the maze of the asteroid field, along with our three androids who otherwise would have shut themselves down and could have been recovered by the inevitable search that would follow.  Ah, bitter moment to sweet oblivion. 

I reincarnated on Altaria as I had pre-planned.  I felt no loss, no remorse.  For me the wars were over.  I would not be tempted to return.  I planned my next adventure based on some promises I’d made to a world and a people that had given me so much and deserved better than what it was getting from fate. 

Fate, yes.  Some Earthian friend of long ago called it karma.  Whatever it was I would pit myself against, I would serve Earth again.  The people would never know but she would know.  She would be grateful.  “Ich diene.”

[end blog post #43]

 

Traveling in Space, an Essay

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

Quote: “To travel in space you must leave the old verbal garbage behind: God talk, country talk, mother talk, love talk, party talk. You must learn to exist with no religion, no country, no allies. You must learn to live alone in silence. Anyone who prays in space is not there.” — William S. Burroughs

Perhaps one of the hardest “lessons” for the Avatar to learn is to proceed as if one were utterly alone in space; in the universe; in the Cosmos. To cut off all ties with all the known, to refuse any thought of neediness. To realize and accept how absolutely necessary it is to never open one’s thoughts to, or ever utter a single word of, any sort of prayer.

That is what it means, primarily, for me to be self empowered. Of course the argument immediately turns to the fact that my life is circumscribed by all the things needed to make that life possible. Yes, those things are there indeed. But the Avatar knows that they are not there to make her life possible, but to surround her with chains and to eat her flesh, then her mind. That is what it means to live in a predatory system.

That does not invalidate the earlier claim that I must not allow a word or thought to express neediness. That is done by refusing to enter any debate, support for, or defense of, any system purporting to be “for” me. To believe that a religious, state or financial system is there for me is akin to the steer milling about in the loafing barn believing that the agri-business that owns it is there for its survival and long life. An Avatar must be a bit smarter than that. To know how the System operates and what it uses as fuel is certainly the beginning of wisdom.

I am free to discuss with anyone the state of the economy, or regime changes and resource wars; to commiserate over on-going genocides and people’s fears over their particular nation’s political trends or the death of a friend or happiness over a planned trip or wedding or birth of a child. In all of that I must remember that I am no longer a part of it; that whether it impacts large numbers or one individual it does not affect me in “that” way. I must remember to remain emotionally detached from these issues with the understanding that if it turn out to be a problem, when it approaches me; comes home to roost, I am expendable in the next step: providing what help I can muster for the losers, victims and survivors.

There is much (deliberately infused) misunderstanding about detachment. It is usually understood as a state of not caring. In fact it is the opposite: only a detached and self empowered individual can truly help another. When I approach someone in a detached state I am pure giving; the needy predator within is effectively shut-out. In a detached state I can see a need and know what has to happen to alleviate it. I know what my personal resources are and how best to apply them to the situation. Having learned not to express neediness, any other-than-myself “help” avenue is closed off. I take full responsibility for whatever I am about to commit myself to doing. For the Avatar that can translate as giving up everything, including one’s life. So be it because at that point it’s all about me, and I am in control of my own life.

Giving up one’s life in service of others: is that such a big deal? In a crisis where so many are losing out; where many poor are literally dying on the streets of the richest countries and richest cities, is it “extraordinary” for an individual to participate fully in becoming part of the downfall? The Avatar’s question is, why should my life be worth more, or be more precious to me, than his, hers, theirs’? People in general tend to talk up a good game about love. Everybody except me seems to be in love with love. But what does that translate as, when push comes to shove?

I’m sure if I lived in a theater of war and attendant atrocity I would see real examples of love expressed courageously by many. But as always, I would know that such examples, such efforts, are not usually motivated by a changed and permanent mindset but rather by circumstances. That’s the problem with love: it is dependent, weak, transient and exclusive.

The self empowered, detached, responsible Avatar eschews love as a too uncertain an emotion. To live as if one were already dead so as to function fearlessly the Avatar requires something much more reliable than an emotion. Enter compassion.

Again, as with detachment, there is much misunderstanding about the concept of compassion. Generally it is considered to be just one of a list of ‘virtues’ a person should exhibit, such as decency, love, caring, kindness, patience. Certainly nothing wrong with expressing such but honestly they have little holding power. A change of circumstance can drastically alter the response. This I have seen.

Compassion is never circumstance-dependent because it is entered into by self empowered personal choice. It is a personal commitment to a way of life and it is inclusive. It may well be what the Buddha had in mind before his teachings were hijacked into a religious enterprise, before it became “Buddhism” which, like any religious enterprise, possesses no power to change anyone’s mind. Compassion, before it can be claimed by anyone, must become the purpose of one’s entire life with the ultimate goal of the individual becoming pure compassion, however many aeons of time that may encompass.

To be compassionate is traveling in one’s own space, living alone in the silence of one’s sacred self-awareness, able to filter out the shallow and ever present ocean of socially-induced noise.

Dialogue with a Teacher

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

“I would be a catalyst for change, a change agent.”
“Why?” She asked, her back to me. She seemed to be staring at something beyond the horizon only she could see.
“Why?” I replied, “It’s this world, Teacher; it breaks my heart.”
“So you would change it then?”
“Yes.”
“You understand how change happens, do you not?”
“I think so… but there are so many ways…”
“No! Not if you desire good change. Yes, many ways to bring about change that nurtures unhappiness, misery and endless grief. But the good change, how do you make that come about?”
“I do not know… I simply do not know how.”
“Very well. I am going to reveal some ancient wisdom to you, then you will understand though it may change your mind about being a change agent. Have you ever fallen in love with someone? Ever been so in love that nothing else mattered?”
“Yes I have been, long, long ago.”
“Can you recall your feelings of that time?”
“Somewhat, yes. Pure madness!”
“Madness yes, but all good change comes from that sort of madness. Life proceeds from that madness. Children are born because of it. Now for the great secret but first you get one guess: where does this madness originate? What is its genesis?”
“Trick question, Teacher? I honestly do not know.”
“Such a seed can only be found in one place in the entire universe: in your heart. You must mine for it, extract it, grind and polish it, love it above everything else, desire it more than anything else then give it out freely and completely to the world you wish to see change come about in.
“Know this, that once you give it away you must die. You know the truth of it, “unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it will not produce fruit.” You were taught this when only a child and you remember that lesson. Of all the lesser teachings you received from your tribal parents and teachers, you kept this one and one other.
“Now remember this also, my Avatar, there are many ways to die. Dying is easy but there is only one way to live: with compassion through complete detachment. You understand?”
“Yes Teacher, I do understand.”
“Does it make you want to change your mind?”
I was very slow in answering her, not because I was unsure about my choices but because the moment was so charged with “sacred” energy. I suppose she would have said my reply was predictable.
“On the contrary, Teacher, this is an affirmation. As to that second lesson you alluded to, I remember it well also…”small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
“Be sure to remain on it.”

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

This morning there’s a burning in my heart to express something, but it wasn’t until I received the following in my mail that I realized where I was walking once again.

Quote: “Despair is the state in which anxiety and restlessness are immanent to existence. Nobody in despair suffers from “problems”, but from his own inner torment and fire. It’s a pity that nothing can be solved in this world. Yet there never was and there never will be anyone who would commit suicide for this reason. So much for the power that intellectual anxiety has over the total anxiety of our being! That is why I prefer the dramatic life, consumed by inner fires and tortured by destiny, to the intellectual, caught up in abstractions which do not engage the essence of our subjectivity. I despise the absence of risks, madness and passion in abstract thinking. How fertile live, passionate thinking is! Lyricism feeds it like blood pumped into the heart! ― Emil M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair – 1933)

Some of us exist as bog fires. We burn, winter and summer and we are impossible to extinguish. Why? Because no one understands the source of our fire.

In fact, I don’t understand it either, it just is. Perhaps I should use the term “burning bush” because the more we burn, the more we have to burn. Nothing is consumed. No entropy here, quite the opposite. The world and its desires may well pass away, over and over, but this struggling thing I call “me” remains, dies, returns, again and again.

Why? If ‘nothing can be solved in this world’ (see above quote) why return? In those nebulous times in-between endless strings of lives, do we forget? Do we re-arrive here all innocent, a tabula rasa, having no remembrances of having walked through vales of tears and mountains of glory, in bare feet or harsh armour? Of hunger and surfeit? Of enslavement and mastery?

Passing through, surviving (to what end?) and perhaps fixing a few little things, I know I will not solve, nor resolve any of this world’s major and obvious problems. For those solutions I must defer to greater aspects of life than me. When I was young and my fire burned on the surface I would not have accepted this truth but now that I have gone underground and the burning is steady and controlled, I realize it is how it should be. I am not the conscience of this world, or any world or reality. Suffice that I am my own and that I have the power within myself, finally, to understand how to control that tiny part of all that is.

As Victor Frankl wrote: “Who would bring light must endure burning” Passion is burning. Some time back, feeling my burning, I wrote the following. Perhaps another in similar pain will receive validation; take comfort from these words, they are not empty utterances:

Where Hope fails Despair will Serve
[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]
There, I’ve shown you:
No hope, no hope left
Not for you, not for them.
Your children are dying
Don’t you see? Are you blind?
I’ve taken away every strand
Of your pitifully weak hope
And what can you do now
But admit my power,
And bow to the inevitable, to me?

She looks upon her foe as he gloats over her,
She turns and stares ahead
At a land stretching before her tired eyes
Dark, menacing, parched, dead.
She hears the incomprehensible,
The language of the damned, tortured screams
Rise from places she cannot name.

She looks down at the children
Cowering at her bloody feet
Whimpering, hungry, frightened,
Shivering in their bits of rags;
Her own clothes in no better shape.
She feels the hollowness
Of her own body and tired mind
Dragging her down to yield,
To sleep and to forget.

This must be the end she reasons once again,
And I’ve been misled, lied to, to take this way
Try to lead the children and find a way of escape:
I cannot go further; I have nothing left.

Her enemy laughs again.
You’re done then, hey?
Say yes, give up, give up!

“No!” she says turning to face him,
Her cracked lips bleeding:
This isn’t our end, this is our beginning.
Hope there may no longer be;
No comfort may be waiting
When we walk from here but know this:
Where hope fails, as it often must,
There is always despair.

Rousing the children
She leads them into the darkness:
We shall not be his slaves
She tells them,
Let death take us then if that’s how it must be.

But it wasn’t death that waited there,
It was freedom earned
From courage to say “No,”
Taking that last resolute step
Where he could never follow.

Despair is the end of all power usage and as rawgod said to me commenting on another post, “Non-use of power IS the ultimate use of power. To have it, and refuse to use it, that is powerful.”  I am just beginning to understand what that means, and the personal costs associated with it.

Another Gift of the Magi

(Short story from The Other Side  by Sha’Tara)

(According to my trusty old MS Word, this short story is five pages long.  Therefore, so as not to take up too much of your time, I’m posting it in three “installments.”  Some of the title is of course borrowed from the famous Christmas short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry.  A simplistic short story written to demonstrate the spirit of Christmas; also the joys and real dangers inherent to self empowerment.)

Ariana and Sylvia were twins and they were inseparable.  They did most things together and were seldom found far from each other.  Even as they grew older, they shared their times and even their friends.  When their parents divorced, they were ten years old.  In their innocent wisdom, they decided to “share” themselves between the parents.  Sylvia went with her dad and Ariana remained with her mother.  So every time the girls wanted to be together one parent or the other had to bring her over.  Thus, over a period of time, and even after they were re-married, the parents developed a deep friendship as they watched their children playing or talking together.

After their parents separated, both girls, raised nominally Catholic, began to consider their faith and returned to the Church, attending and helping organize various functions.  They shared the same intense belief in what the Church stood for.

Both grew into beautiful young women and over-achievers.  They were heading to college when Ariana told her sister that she had decided to enter the convent and become a nun. 

“I want to try on Mother Teresa’s shoes Sylvia, see how they fit and how long I can walk in them before they kill me!”  Mother Teresa had been their childhood heroine.

Being Catholic, entering the convent was not an issue.  Men and women were both desperately needed by the Church.  Sylvia cried when her sister put on the veil and became Sister Celeste.  She accepted her sister’s choice as they had always accepted each other’s choices.  Sylvia went to college then on to university intent on getting a medical degree.

After a few years Ariana, now Sister Celeste, confided her passion to Sylvia as they spent a Christmas day afternoon together. 

“I want to open a hospice for the homeless downtown.  It’s my dream, Syl.  It’s my passion, my inspiration.” 

“And how does your Order and the Church feel about that?” 

“If I can get private funding to open it and keep it going and convince at least four other sisters to join me, they’ll bless it.  Problem is, I don’t have any contacts I could use to raise the money.” 

“How much money do you need to start?” 

“I need at least one hundred thousand dollars to open.  I’ve got a tentative tender on a lease already.  After that, I don’t know.” 

Sylvia took her sister’s hands in hers and looking into her eyes, said: “Has God ever failed either of us, sister?”

“No, never.”  she replied, smiling.

“Then go ahead.  Do this and you will get the money… I promise!”

They talked some more.  That day they swore an oath to each other, that no matter what the circumstances, no matter the distance, they would always spend Christmas day together. 

Silvia sold her new car.  She broke her engagement and when he told her to keep the ring, she sold that.  She maxed her student loans and canvassed the campus and all her well-heeled friends.   A few weeks later, near the end of January, Sister Celeste received a call from the bank where she had opened her “hope account” for the hospice.  There was a one hundred thousand dollar anonymous donation in the account.

Ariana opened her hospice and from the very start it was a success.  A brilliant manager and tireless, she drove her staff and herself to meet the needs of the homeless.  Abandoned children were found temporary homes; pregnant girls were sheltered and placed here and there.  The sick and the dying found a place of refuge there — a warm place, not an institution.  She was often heard saying, “Unfortunately, our business is probably the busiest in town.  We’ll never go broke from lack of customers.”

(end part 1 of 3)