Saturday, April 25, 2015

TOURIST OF DEATH



WHO AM I?
My wife and I were tourists on Grand Cayman because we were going to have our first baby and this was a way to celebrate, and probably was our last vacation alone for some time. She wanted me to go on the Sunset Cruise Catamaran sail that evening.
I wanted to go deep sea fishing. I could never afford the “Marlin’ Darlin” which was at that time $US 1,000 per HALF DAY. So, I asked around and a boat Captain who worked locally as a Volunteer Fireman (from New Jersey), and his First Mate (the Limbo dancer from the hotel) gave me their deal: if I brought $US 100 and a case of beer, I could go with he and his friend to fish for Marlin to sell to one of the chefs at a local hotel.
I told my wife I hoped I would be back by a romantic Sunset Cruise with her on a catamaran, but deep-sea fishing was something, well, guys like me dream of doing.

WHY AM I HERE?
On the way out to really deep water, the boat men caught Barracuda and cut them up for bait. That was our first blood of the day. Barracuda are flipping and flailing razor blades when caught. The captain cut their heads off and then stood back because they kept biting. We ran out to sea for several hours before they saw “drift”, a 4’X8’ plywood sheet, over which Dolphin fish (not Porpoises) were jumping. We stopped here so the boat men could catch something for home.
So, here I am watching them catch Dolphin fish with hand-lines when, suddenly, the Dolphin vanish. An 8-foot long, Black Tip shark has seen the drift and the Dolphin, too. The Captain says to me, “Hey tourista! You wanna be a fisherman?”
I say, “You bet!”
     The Captain dangles a huge marlin hook with a Barracuda head as bait over the side like my Auntie Ethel, my black Auntie, taught me how to catch Sunfish when I was 5-years old. Then the Captain feels the line as it tightens and the shark takes it in and suddenly, the Captain; a short, stocky man, leaps into the air, gives the rod a gigantic pump, and set the hook. The reel starts screaming, as the shark dives deep. The Captain starts laughing and hands the rod toward me. “Get in the chair!” he said. I climb into the fighting chair and seat-buckle myself in. “From tourista to fisherman! Gonna kill a BIG fish!” he laughs and hands me the rod. He and the limbo dancer unpack sandwiches and iced beers and sit in the shade for lunch.

WHAT DO I WANT?
     The shark has run deep is still ripping line from the reel. I try to tighten the drag and the Captain tells me to “Crank!” so I do. I put the rod in the rod holder. I lean back and lift the rod tip as high as I can and try to crank up the few inches of “slack” when I lower it. Over and over this goes: lift, crank in a few inches, lift, crank in a few inches. One hour. The Captain and First Mate nap. The shark is towing the boat.
Two hours I sit in the tropical sun. I realize I am not well protected on my back and the sun which also reflects off the water. I can feel my skin boiling.  I remember all the sunburns I had as a kid. I want to ask for help, but don’t want to be a wimp.
The Captain wakes and sees the shark is now actually visible below the boat. The shark and I are at a stand-off.
     “Get the flying gaff.” The Captain says to the Limbo dancer. The Captain takes the rod, pumps several times and brings the shark MUCH closer to the surface. I climb out of the chair and out of the way to watch.
The shark surfaces, exhausted. “Hit him!” he shouts to Limbo who swings the pole with the flying gaff and strikes the shark in mid-body. The gaff is a semi-circular blade which temporarily is on a long pole.  Limbo grabs the rope tied to the gaff hook, puts his feet on the side-rail and pulls mightily. The shark is being cut in half with the gaff hook and thrashes mightily throwing bloody water everywhere.
The hook pulls through. I watch as the shark drifts down and out of sight. “You killed a big ‘un! 8-foot! Mebbe 500-pounds!” the Captain says. “Here’s a beer!”
Limbo climbs into the chair. They bait-up for Marlin and head back. I sit in the shade. On the way in they catch a middling-size Marlin, 5-foot, to sell at the hotel.
When we get back, I help them carry the Marlin to their 2-door car and tie it on top. They drive off to a hotel to sell the fish. I miss the romantic Sunset Cruise. I am really cooked by the sun and have a touch of heat stroke. My wife is not sympathetic. “We came on vacation for romance.” She says. “Not for me to be a tourist of death.” My neck and back blisters and peels – even a few days later after I get home.
Our son is born a few months after we return home. Sixteen years later my son and I are swimming at our local YMCA and he reaches up to brush what he thinks is a “leaf” off my back. It is an oddly shaped dark patch – it doesn’t come off. It’s melanoma skin cancer.
Somewhere I imagine Death climbing into a fighting chair. He doesn’t need to buckle himself in. Will I run deep? “Hey tourista!” I say to myself.

© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved


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Friday, April 17, 2015

UNFORTUNATE GARMENTS



WHO AM I?
From the moment we are born, we have experiences. We “wear” our experiences. Layer after layer your experiences in the form of memories, emotions like disappointments, muscle memories, injuries all affect how freely we move, are bound to us inwardly and outwardly. They are like unfortunate garments which belong to us and which we cannot remove without great effort. It’s like once you have an experience, you are changed. My new possibilities of new days, new ways of doing things, having new loves or discovering new friendship, exploring new adventures – is somehow affected by these unfortunate garments I must wear.  

     For example, I got this leather jacket years ago because I thought it was “cool” and I saved up a lot of money to get it. I thought it would protect me from things I hoped would never happen to me. It didn’t. It got me into trouble so to one group of people, I’m the goofy guy with the leather jacket.

Some garments are defensive. Yes, my belly does hang over these swimming trunks, but you can’t ever tell when you’ll need swimming trunks. I once did without them and a hot tub came into play. Anyway, I can’t take them off. If I take them off, I’d be naked and vulnerable. I’d be cold. I might be ridiculed. See? Layers of unfortunate decisions.

     Unfortunately, I can’t even think or dream now without being within the garments of my experiences. Everything now gets filtered through these layers. It’s like I’m swimming and I’m at the bottom and I look up and see people swimming above me in swimsuits – but here I am at the bottom in unfortunate garments. They swim away so freely.



WHY AM I HERE?

The world gives us the first layer of unfortunate garments. It’s what happens TO you beginning at birth. Where were you born? Was it hot or cold? Day or night? Were you healthy or not? These garments are given to you by life and your fortunes or misfortunes – your experiences. You’re born with your first sensual (or sentient) experiences. Were you touched? Loved? Held? I was born pre-maturely, adopted at birth, and spent the first 6-weeks in a metallic box incubator lined with a blanket. Not the usual first “layer” of experience. The guys I’ve taught in maximum security prisons had layers of experiences which were traumatic, chaotic, full of shouting, and blows. Quite the opposite of the isolating experience of a metallic box and a blanket. But, what is the “usual” first layer? Whatever we get, we get.

     This first layer is something we all are “given” by life. The next layer is what you do to yourself – your choices. Good choices, bad choices, good influences from friends, family or school; bad influences.

Unfortunate garments wrap us with an image or a version of reality which we can mistake for The Reality. These are OUR reality, but they are not THE reality. Casting them off takes a long time and is a struggle – like the literal struggle of getting out of an overly tight sweater or a butterfly out of a cocoon.



WHAT DO I WANT?

     Sometimes I’ve wondered if it would it be better to wear a uniform or a robe which reveals no individual mis-fortune and hides our personal fate? We could avoid being judged by others, but maybe it is better to wear our hearts on our sleeves?

     Now I feel that I am changing out some of my unfortunate garments – that this is getting easier to do.  I find that the “styles” are changing or that I am changing my own preconception and getting free of being who ever I was that wore that leater jacket.

This Madras shirt, for example, with colors that bleed together? This was an experiential gift from a woman who was too pushy and self-centered and we bled all over one another. I’ve avoided Madras from then on. Get it outta here!  These burnt socks? That was meeting at the writer’s circle where I felt like I had to walk across hot coals of embarrassment. Oh well. That’s one I won’t hang onto. Forgive but don’t forget. This tie is a Jerry Garcia brand and I love it. At least I have ONE not unfortunate garment. But, Jerry died, but a brand and a band lives on.



© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved


ON SALE NOW
Jan – June 2014 threesimplequestions Blog Posts
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ISBN: 978-1-4908-7124-0
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CULTURAL ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME (AIDS)



WHO AM I?
     I am 1-billion Facebook users, 5.5 million Twitter users whose Tweets or posts flow through our Technological Social Media arteries. My virtual friends “share” items which flow through my Social Media accounts. Because my “friends” are “friends” to others who are “friends” to others, and so on to others; I imagine the sense of “self” of this largest group is a giant cultural bloodstream of real-time, unedited and uncontrolled messaging. After all, the theory of “3-degrees of separation” might be in play here.  Friend-to-friend, post-by-post we “share” with one another good things and bad things: nice celebrations, reports of wrongs by governmental agencies, pictures of my vacation, death by cops, violence and corporate greed; incidents which none of us individually, our family, or friends, can control in any way. We are really sharing cultural powerlessness. We are powerless over what technology reports, and in some cases causes to happen in and to our culture.
     In many ways we are powerless over our own bodies as well. In the physical disease of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) the body’s capacity to resist “foreign” cells or “infection” fails because the number of white (defensive) blood cells is diminished. The white blood cells defend the overall system by going to all of the cells in the body and determining which are “me” and which are “not me” (foreign). The white blood cells destroy the “not me” cells (the infection) and protect the integrity of the body.
     What plays out day-to-day in Technological Social Media are reports of political gridlocks, terrorist attacks, protests, fear over anger and hatred which go against our personal values, ideals or morals which once we shared with genuine fiends before “virtual friends”. That’s what made them friends. We shared values and priorities. Once it was genuine and real. Now it is pretense.
There is no technological “white blood cell” mechanism (no Technological Immune System) to test whether or not the things flowing along via Social Media are “me” (my values) and they go unfiltered and unchecked directly into my consciousness. Many are false posts. Some are really ads. Some are lies consciously planted by provocateurs who wishes we would buy their “remedy” to the fear they promote, support their “cause” so they can “save” us, or they work for someone else.
     This media stream is overloading my heart. Sometimes I feel revulsion, sometimes my “friends” say they are going out to buy guns, sometimes I get a dose of fear, my heart grows hard, my capacity to know my community as genuine “Friends” is compromised, my life is gerrymandered away by foreign (“not me”) forces. I am losing my strength. Am I suffering from technological Social Media AIDS?

WHY AM I HERE?
     The French Revolution happened within a society when one sub-culture within that country was overwhelmed by the values and priorities from another, more dominant culture. The peasants got out their technology – the guillotine - in order to eliminate the overly pernicious, fiercely greedy, aristocracy. They performed “Cultural Surgery”. It was a revolution which instituted the “rights of men.” “All the Kings horses and all the Kings men could not put Humpty-French-Monarchy together again.”
We don’t have Monarchy – we have Corporatism. Technological Social Media serves Corporations and the message flow down the technological arteries shows that the “old order” of “me” values like citizenship, brotherhood, equality and civic power are being swamped or infected by economic priorities, partisan values and sectarianism. Regardless of which cultural values you treasure, you probably rarely see yours reflected on technological Social Media.  We are unraveling.
     When you treat actual AIDS you may find that the amount of medicine and its power, may kill the patient. Treating technological Social Media AIDS, if such a thing were possible, may be so painful and require such sacrifices many citizens would object, the same way “loyalists” defend the “crown” in previous revolutions.
     Those in control, sometimes called “tyrants”, never want to lose control, and so respond, gain strength and push back against any attempt to curtail their power. The AIDS virus actually degenerates all parts of the body to feed itself. The Social Media AIDS will do the same.

WHAT DO I WANT?
     Resist the urge to blame: we are not the only “Social” who have chosen to use “Social Media”. The Media serves multiple corporations, governmental agencies, international states and their paid provocateurs, who are your and my friends and relatives.  Data gathering, based on words we use is shared to marketers, and Governmental Security agencies. So, there are very large, powerful entities who value technological Social Media and they arise from multiple directions at once. But, this is only technology. You control all technologies by using the “off” switch. Or, you can change the dynamics in the technological stream  by flooding the social media with messages of other principles and values. You as an individual choose to change the message.
The U.S. was founded on universal spiritual principles: religious liberty, economic brotherhood, and equal rights. If we, each of us as individuals, reclaim these principles in our own non-technological, human lives; our own personal actions with one another, we can, from the inside, build a new Human Social Media which will create Cultural White Blood Cells and our renewed Culture will reject the forces of greed, fear and hatred, the “not me” forces of the oligarchy and their supporters which flow through the Technological Social Media.

© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager
All Rights Reserved


ON SALE NOW
Jan – June 2014 threesimplequestions Blog Posts
Are Available In Book Form 
"Th3 Simple Questions: Slice Open Everyday Life" 
Available at
http:/www.th3simplequestions.com
Available at Internet Retailers 
By WestBow Press
6x9 Perfect Bound Softcover @ $11.95
ISBN: 978-1-4908-7124-0
6x9 Dust Jacket Hardcover @ $28.95
ISBN: 978-1-4908-7125-7
E-Book @ $3.99
ISBN: 978-1-4908-7123-3