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In the sweat lodge, all ideologies melt away.
There are no corners and no lines and everybody is a temporary friend.
Furthest from the door, I don't do much talking.
Eyes closed, I walk amid the ruins of my life.
First, there's the void, the answer to my question: "Why?"
Perhaps someday I will understand but that day is not near.
In the dispassion of heat, I see my father differently.
He was not, as I, a compassionate reptile.
I am what he always imagined himself to be, a primarily rational creature.
And in the gentle heat, I can allow myself to feel the pang of my step-mother's cruelty but also see the devotion and love of later years, the seed of which was probably planted from the start.
And the sweat greases my sympathy with my own mother's inspired but irrational positivity, but also allows me to move into my own strength.
For I have always been by nature my own man and therein lies so much of the reason for my tribulations.
For the teachers did not want a thinker, the vendors did not want a teacher, and the authorities did not want a warrior-guru, even though their own line had grown frail and impotent.
Yes, sweat is a salve for even my most recent wound, that inflicted by the girl I loved.
For in the almost scorching heat, I can't mantain the simple picture of Fawn as an evil monster. No, she was in many ways controlling and selfish. Like me, she was an intellectual and a pariah from a conformist society, but not nearly as complete of one.
No, the infection seeped deep enough into her to bring out anger and thought.
But this society wounded me deeply enough to inspire both hate and wisdom.
No, I burn it all away: I am not a thinker, I am not a kind person, I am not a fascist or an optimist, I am not a gentleman of this society, I am not an adventurer, I am not a leader.
The door opens and we all file out, purged of everything too earthly, too divine or simply too sensitive.
And, no, I do not know what I am but I am resolved to be nothing else.


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The following comments are for "In the Sweat Lodge"
by seanspacey

Welcome to sobriety
I gather the sweat lodge is part of your recovery. I don't have direct experience of what you are going through - I'm only a witness to the last ten years of my hubby's now 26 years of sobriety. I honestly can't tell you if it gets any easier. (My guy makes it LOOK easy at this late stage of his game.) All I know is that if you stick with it, it gets longer - because you become less likely to die.

I'd be interested in reading more of the specifics regarding how "this society wounded [you] deeply." If you've written about that elsewhere in Lit, please refer me to those pieces, provided you still consider them accurate reflections of your thoughts.

"I burn it all away: I am not a thinker, I am not a kind person, I am not a fascist or an optimist, I am not a gentleman of this society, I am not an adventurer, I am not a leader.... I do not know what I am but I am resolved to be nothing else."

When we strip away all the self-created masks and identities, I guess we must learn, and heal, who we really are. Dirty job, but...

Best wishes to you! Keep on keeping on.

( Posted by: LinnieRed [Member] On: January 9, 2005 )

A Delegate for the Different
Linnie, in response to "In the Sweat Lodge," asked me what my greivances against society were. I thank her for giving me the opportunity to lay out some of my thoughts on the matter, in a constructive sort of way.
Linnie, I won't lie to you; I'm not abstaining from alcohol right now. And I probably should. If I get even a couple drinks in me, I get way too daring for my own good. But I'm sober now and I've been keeping it to two beers a day. And I'm in a good life situation right now. I'm about to graduate from college with an English degree. I have every reason to expect to be accepted into a Master in Business Administration program, and the DA dropped the charge against me.
When I was a child, I was bullied heavily because of my highly ackward gait, my glasses and my different personality. The teachers, etc., didn't interfere with the bullying. One day on the bus, I had made these fun colored paper hand puppets. Well, a bully tore them all up, just out of cruelty. My dad complained to the school. They did nothing to the bully, Doug Blair; their suggestion was that I sit in the front of the bus from then on. In Europe, anti-bullying programs are standard, just a part of making schools a nurturing environment. But our society views bullying as a sort of survival of the fittest situation. TV programs like "Saved by the Bell" encourage this sort of behavior.
The next way that society harmed me was by failing to accept people with intellects like mine. I am a highly thoughtful person. But "thought" is not values in our school system or our economy, much to the detriment of the latter. In school, when I was ready to learn about the history of the world, the ideas of our age, etc., I was forced to memorize facts. It was always memorizing facts, whether the subject was Math, History, or Science. Furthermore, authoritarianism and whole group punishment was the norm throughout my education.
Likewise, our society doesn't provide jobs for creative, intellectual people. Now, some people pretend that this is just what the market demands. But a modern economy is a highly organized entity; values are chosen by leaders and these leaders are morally responsible for their actions. Thinking people such as myself could make massive contributions to this economy if only we were given a place in it.
Okay, now we get to the crimminal justice system. About a year ago, I had a physically abusive girlfriend. She attacked one too many times and I gave her a right hook. The justice system put me on the rack. From the police to the DA to the judges, the whole system was highly biased and unfair. After I had settled the thing, I went on match.com and accidentally wrote the anonymous profile of my ex. This was truly an accident and I passed a lie-detector test to this effect. But "domestic violence" is a horrible evil that must be killed, whether an individual is guilty or not. Besides, cops like don't like long haired Bohemian kids. They pressed "contempt of court" charges and only dropped them after my poor mother went into debt to hire a private lawyer.
I never had a substance abuse problem before these charges. But I am a sensitive person and I have trouble coping with persecution without something to help me re-focus. The drugs and alcohol that all this drove me too probably did more damage than the legal persecution itself. But that did a lot of damage, too. On its basis, I was denied entry into the teaching school for which I had chosen my current major in the first place. For the first time in a year, I can legally leave the State of Oregon.
And for the first time in a long time, I feel like I might have a bright future. And, you see, that's what people need to not abuse substances. And there are a lot of great things about this society but there's a lot of room for improvement, too. And there are a lot of people out there who are different and they are persecuted by this society. Maybe they're a little deformed, a little damaged in the head, or maybe they just don't think the way the authorities want them to.
And I'm one of them. I'm blessed to be decent looking, articulate and even from an upper-middle class background. But inside, I'm as gnarled as any of them. And I've been thinking about it and realizing that really that's my identity: I'm a delegate for the different.

( Posted by: seanspacey [Member] On: January 9, 2005 )





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