life of buddy don, chaptur 78:
luv is all aroun, inside n out
ye mite could say i wuz thankin bout the problem frum the beginnin, witch the problem is death. one of the furst thangs i kin member is how scairt i gut frum a sermon the preechur give one mornin. the fust thang i member is runnin away, but seems lack it jumps rite frum thar to that sermon.
i always begged to go to the big church in sted of sundy skool n mama wood let me long as i wuz quite n sat still. so i gut to go n thay wuz this woman thar that let me put a fifty cent piece in the colleckshun ifn i wood promiss to pay tenchun to the sermon so i dun it. twuz the furst time i ackshly listend n he wuz a'tellin bout whuts a'gone happen to them that goes to hell. n that preechur splained how thays this fire down in hell that burns ye ferever even tho ye dont die but ye jes hurt frum that fire burnin ye.
thang wuz, i knew i dint have no chants to go to heaven on a counta how i couldnt even quit pickin my nose or runnin away, so when i gut to bed that nite, i cummenced to thankin bout that sermon n how thangs happens. i memberd bout beggin to go barfoot n steppin on a bee n daddy sayin that ye gut to ackcept thangs bout life lack how ye gone get stung by bees now n then. then he laffed n reminded me how twuz much wurser fer the bee.
so it seemed lack hell wuz one of them painful thangs that ye cant avoid no way, speshly ifn ye couldnt git yer ownself to stop runnin away. nex thang i know, i gut to shakin with fear n then cum a asthma attack n then they had to take me to the hospital n that made daddy mad n i wuz afraid of him too.
so i went to church rite reglar n tride my hardest to bleeve everthang, but i couldnt git over the way they splained how ever thangs predestined. n i figgerd dint matter much whut ye did on a counta ye wernt really a'doin it. twuz jes the thread of destiny playin out.
so i gut to wonderin howt could be that ye could be borned predestined to suffer the fires of hell. then one sundy the preechur gut to prayin fer the troops overn vietnam to do well n git thar jobs dun n cum home, only by then i knew whut they wuz a'doin over thar n i couldnt see how ye could pray fer em to do a good job of killin folk.
so i quit a'goin to church n till darlene n me gut to studyin with them jeehovuhs witnesses, i dint thank too much about it. but then twuz a differnt matter when we wuz a'studyin with them witnesses on a counta it seemed lack fer a while it mite be the anser, but ye know how thatn cum out ifn ye red chaptur 21: draft lottry.
long about then i had my twenty secunt birthday n darlene made us each a lil pizza, witch thats how we always et our pizza, a lil one each. i wuz a'sittin thar lookin at it n smellin how good it smelled n then eatin it. n darlene ast me how did it feel to be 22 n i sed it dint feel much differnt. jes a nuther year gone.
but i gut to thankin how each year of yer life is lack one of them slices of pizza, n thay aint no way i woodnt finish my pizza ever time n that led to the obveeus conclushun that ye gone die. that tiz inevitabull. that tiz lack gittin stung by a bee only yer the bee this time.
frum that, seem lack i wuz in a endless loop of searchin fer sumthin that could give me peace on the topick. ye dun red all the thangs i studied n follerd after n how i dint git no whar only i did only i dint. or so it seemed to me. i larnt a lot of thangs, but i dint seem to be able to find the thang, that faith to have faith.
not that i dint look. i studied with them witnesses n the sevuth day advents n mormons n cathlicks. n i studied mistysism n thangs lack witchcraft n sorcery n the occult in genrull. thay wuz times i thought id found it or at least proof that thays sumthin more than jes yer bidy, sumthin that kin survive death. i thought i had found it with gurdjieff n crowley n thought i wood larn to do miraculls or ritchual magick or sumthin, but the more i studied, the more i knew bout whut dint wurk but not whut does.
so i figgerd flossofy wuz the thang n i studied that verr hard n thar i larnt bout the neoplatonists n all them idees bout bein beyond the bidy, but that only mint folks had been thankin the same thang ferever n still thay wuznt proof of nuthin fer sartin.
then i gut to stuydin relijun agin only tutherns that wernt varieties of the christchun relijun but that jes confused me more on a counta ifn folks could bleev them other relijuns n bleev em sincerely n all, then how could i say they wood half to go to hell? or how could i bleev that one had the goods on all tutherns? ye jes couldnt say that. they wuz all beeyootiful n wurthy of bleef n ye could see that they hepped folks lead better lives.
roun the time i met emily this kinda thang wuz lack a plague on my mind. i wood be watchin fer miraculls ever mint, but corse nuthin ever happend. worse thang wuz, i dint know whut else thay wuz fer me to look at or search thru to find the anser. twuz hard also on a counta how i a had dun broke up with susannah n hadnt never touched emily atall, not a hug, not holdin hands, no physicull contack at all. so i had to wonder whut twuz i wuz a'doin?
then one evenin i dreampt of dyin n bein stuck in the tite space of a coffin n twuz so awful a feelin that i cried out till it woke me up. n i wuz havin a hard attack of asthma n dint know whut to do. i wuz out of primatene tablets, witch they wuz whut i tuck, so i gut up n looked roun fer whut could i take. thay wuznt nuthin thar.
corse, thay wuz my can of theevil weed. i had herd twood hep asthma, but it dint make no sense that smoke could do that. but in my desperayshun i figgerd a sangle toke frum a pipe mite hep, n thang wuz, it killt that attack. then it lef me hi to thank bout dyin. i lay thar in the dark thankin on it n sumhow i wood git it all confused with emily on a counta i wuz so hot fer her i could hardly bleev it.
that event gut me back onto the topick of death moren ever. i wuz readin all kinda thangs that dint seem to fix nuthin:
- denial of death by ernest becker
- the courage to be by paul tillich
- being and nuthingness by jean-paul sartre
- the sense of an ending by frank kermode
- radical monotheism n westurn cultchur by richard niebuhr
- on death n dyin by elizabeth kubler-ross
- being and time by martin heidegger
seemed lack it all jes made me more afraid n more confused bout whut i wuz spozed to do. n when emily saw me lack that, ye could see that she couldnt hardly take it, that she needed sumbidy who wuznt morose n wondern bout death all the time so i wood try to ack lack twernt nuthin.
but twuz sumthin on my mind mos all the time. once i wuz sittin up in mcclung tower readin bout nuthingness till i wuz near panicked, thankin bout how ifn at the end ye dont survive, ifn thay aint nuthing after this life, then tiz as if the hole universe is destroyed each time sumbidy dies on a counta fer that person, tiz as if the universe had disappeared. it dont matter ifn it goes on sum kinda way, fer the dead, tiz obliterated, gone, nuthin, jes as nuthin as the person who becums nuthin by dyin.
i musta had sum kinda look on my face on a counta jes fred cum by n ast whut wuz i thankin bout. n we gut to talkin bout death n all n purty soon we wuz down in his offus whar we talked a nuther two or three hours bout everthang thay is. finely he ast me did i wonta go to a psychologicull retreat a cuple weekends later. i ast him how much did it cost n he sed $60 n i sed twuz too steep fer me. that gut him to thankin till he sed he wood pay fer my spot ifn i wood go. i sed i mite ackcept a loan, but i woodnt doot ifn he wuz a'gone pay fer me.
so he agreed to that, n thats how cum i wuz on my way to the green house on the thurd fridy in may of 1978. i half to add mitt i dint wonta go. twuz a hole weekend n i druther study n spend sum time with emily or wurk in the garden. i resented it fer bein a awful waste of my time, n i wuz walkin slow n cunsidderin whut i mite say to git out of it sum kinda way, but one step led to a nuther till i wuz on the greenhouse porch n jes fred cum out n give me a big ole bear hug, witch he wuz a bear of a man, n i knew i couldnt say nuthin then.
thay wuz a group of bout eight or nine folk thar, all of em academick types: a perfesser in a suit, jes fred, a earth mother, a hippy in a tie-died tee shirt, a geeky lookin fat kid, a woman with long strate hair sittin in a lotus posishun on the floor, me n sum utherns i cant much member innymore. purty soon 'el doc tore' n his bunch cum in n thay wuz sum talk in two langwages fer a bit on a counta how el doc tore dint speak no english n dint no bidy else speak inny spanish n then we gut in our cars n drove out to a farm out by watts bar lake. i dint git the locayshun only it looked lack we drove out into mill valley sumwhar.
furst thang they had us do once we gut thar wuz take a psychological test, witch i figgerd the test wuz whut they wuz a trine to sell us, lease it seemed thataway whenever i wuz takin it. it wuz filled with questchuns bout whut uniform did ye wonta wear n whut wood ye do ifn this that or tuther wuz to happen, that kinda thang. then the fun cummenced.
lookin back, i kin see more or less whut they wuz up to, but at the time, everthang wuz a sprize. they started by exposin us to a series of physicull therpy teckneeks, one after tuther till our bidies acked n our fangers wuz tanglin. sum of the thangs we dun wuz stretchin n tie chee n blindfoldin one person n havin tuthers lif him up over thar heds n carry him roun n swimmin in the lake n jumpin jacks n push ups n yew name it.
then they tuck us in n made us meditate, witch that mint we all had to git into the lotus posishun n sit still fer as long as we could take it. then they stopped us n had us write a deescriptshun of the mos difficult moment of our lives. i rote bout my acksident with the tree, witch the mos difficult part bout thatn wuz hearin myself screamin fer gods damnayshun, witch that wuz sumthin i never speckted n scares me to this verr day. nex they ast us to rite our cumplete n specifick sexual autobiogruffy. then they give us more meditayshun with breethin exercises n such n finely let us go to bed.
nex day we gut up early n tuck a long hike. then yoga n stretches. then brakefuss. then more meditayshun, only this time, we wuz spozed to let our animull selves cum out, witch i magined i wuz a goat on a counta bein capricorn n havin a goat name of wilhelm goat, witch he dint die till later that summer. then they had us lay down on a huge piece of paper n sumbidy wood trace each form of the animull ye had tuck. mine turnt out to be a dancin goat, only his frunt hooves wuz a coverin his hed lack he speckted to git hit n the gurl that traced mine give him a big ole ereckshun.
then they give us a long lesson in belly dancin. then clay therpy, witch we wuz spozed to make a representayshunull piece of art while concentratin on our sexuality n sensualty. i made a face that looked jes lack emily wood look whenever we wuz talkin bout how the penis wuz lack a weppon, witch even then ye could tell she wonted to disarm the weppon sumhow.
then we ate whut they called our last meal.
then they give us paper n crayola crans n had us draw pitchers of our parnts n children n mates n god n even our ownself all out in the worl. then the made us exercise agin.
when they had wore us plum out, they put blindfolds on ever one of us n told us to tend lack we wuz sum kinda animull. i becum a chimpanzee rite away. we wuz tole to go eggsplore the worl n natchur n then they sed we should find a mate n long bout then i bumped into sumbidy n wuz i ever thankful twuz a woman, witch turnt out to be the earth mother. we wuz spozed to perteck our mates n i had to beat off sumbidy that wuz tendin he wuz a boar only i dint let him git her. then i turnt back to her n we cuddled n kissed only twuz innocent lack.
then they cum n tuck off my blindfold n handed me that sexual autobiogruffy i had writ n tole me to read it to her, witch thats jes whut i dun n then they put my blindfold back on n had her read hers to me.
then they give us a nuther lesson in tie chee, witch them lessons gut my bidy to tanglin lack it hadnt never dun n by the end i wuz cumpletely tuckerd out.
then they tuck us all into the main room of that ole farm house fer the final adventchurs of our 'trip,' witch thats the closest thang to whut twuz, a trip on lsd or sumthin. whutever reservayshuns i had befor we gut thar wuz all gone by then. fack is, they wuznt hardly no boundary lef tween the folks a'goin thru all this n that wuz a lot lack trippin only twuz even more intents.
we wuz tole that everthang else that happent wood take place rite in that room. we had all brung sleepin bags so we rollled em out. they tole us to have our blindfolds with us n pitchers of folks we luved n inny ritins that mint a lot to us. i had pitchers of the fambly n sum of elis pomes n the bible.
then they sed to let the show begin, n it did. furst the room wuz made so dark ye couldnt see nuthin. then they started up a stream of slides, witch thay wuz three kinds of pitchers in that slides how: (1) pitchers of humans inhumanty to humans n to natchur, (2) mamas n thar babies n other innocent folk, n (3) pitchers of untouched natchural thangs lack woods n mountains n seashores n rivers, all with no sign of humans.
at the start, twuz jes one perjeckter goin n the slides wuz mixed bout 1 thurd of each kind. then they lit up a secunt perjeckter n then a thurd. then musick crashed into the room lack a thunderstorm, drums n primitive sounds, a strong beat that woodnt quit tho it twisted n turnt ever witchaway. n sum in the room cummenced to crine n sum to laffin n sum to commentatin on them pitchers. n everthang grew till twuz all too much horror n folks screamed.
then twuz all over n the lites cum on so brite till ye couldnt hardly see. n we were tole to rite a letter to god.
after we wuz dun, they give us our blindfolds n told us to go to sleep. n i drifted off, but seem lack i dint fall asleep.
i felt the adrenaline hit my stumach n thar wuz hitler a'givin his lebensraum speech n it woke me up n i couldnt bleeve how asleep i wuz. i wuz also sprized to spot sum of the frases n unnerstand whut he wuz a'sayin n then sum arrogant so n so tuck to splainin the histry of civil rites in the united states n then a woman cummenced to deescribin havin sex in graffick detail. n thay wuz chants n curses n screamin n machine guns n bombs. folks tuck to crawlin frum person to person, givin hugs, n i wuz amung em. i cum to a woman who kissed me whenever i wuz huggin her n it went frum innocent to erotick to shocked on a counta the sounds round us.
i later larnt that when the time wuz rite, folks had thar blindfolds tuck off. then thay wuz handed one of the thangs they had brought. minny of them cride at that point n sum even tride to git away, but they wuz brought back. i wuz last to git my blindfold removed n 'el doc tore' give me a bowl of fruit.
then el doc tore begun to analyze everbidys problems one by one, crackin em open with the thangs they had brung with em, gittin to how one fella felt bout his ex wife with a pitcher n gittin a woman to cry with a piece of old cloth, that kinda thang.
lack i splained, we had tuck a test at the start of the program, witch it seemed lack it had happend years ago in a nuther life by then, but they had tuck the reesults n put em up whar everbidy could see em. they had dun ratins on everbidy to splain how they wuz a doin with various parts of thar lives. i wuz sprized to see that mine had sumthin cum up so bad twuz off that scale n wursern innybidy else in inny topick. twuz deepresshun n twuz a sprize on a counta i always tole jokes n stayed cheerful n dint feel deepressed.
but when el doc tore cum round to me, that translated whut he sed as, 'why are you so sad, buddy don?' i tole him i dint bleev i really wuz sad. fack wuz, i cunsidderd myself verr happy.
he ast me wood i read my mos difficult momint n it tuck me by sprize. everbidy wuz a'lookin at me n i couldnt say no, so i tuck it n cummenced to readin. twuz hard n my voice cracked a time or two till when i finely wuz dun i sed ok ok ok i do git deepressed sumtimes but tiz sumthin that hardly never happens. so el doc asts whut is it that deepresses me, n i started to say sumthin, only in sted, he ast me wood i red my letter to god. by time i wuz halfway thru, the tears wuz big ole streams down my face n i herd myself say i wuz deepressed bout death n whut a awful trap life wuz n how i wuz mad n sad n cheated n vulnerable n dint matter how i tride, i couldnt git no anser to please me, to splain nuthin bout dyin --
they put a pitcher of mama n daddy n my hands, witch twuz the one they had made fer thar silver anniversry, n that wuz all it tuck to reduce me to sobs fer a while. then i gut cuntrol agin n gut to talkin bout whut twuz that made me sad bout life n death n the hole faith thang n by time i gut goin good, purty much everbidy wuz crine n lookin at me lack i wuz spozed to hit the anser fer em inny mint. twuz a feelin lack nun i had ever felt, a tanglin in the bones, a fire in my hart n wurds flowin so sweet n strong. n sum tride to reason with me n splain how ye had to look on the brite side, but i anserd em how thar wuz no brite side. in death thay aint no reason neethur, n they all add mitted it.
then el doc tore started splainin thangs to me. he tole me how i had faith, contrary to whut i mite say bout havin only doubt. he tol me i had more faith than mos innybidy n thats why i wuz so driven n wuz always a'strugglin so. he sed twuz why i quote abound with energy unquote. then he splained how i wuz deepressed fer a reason n twuz on a counta i refused to accept luv, refused it frum within me, refused it frum without. yet luv is all around, inside n out, so i had to be full of it n folks everwhar wuz porin it on me everday.
then he sed i even knew he wuz rite n wuz fraid to add mitt it, lack twuz sumthin i wuz fraid to claim. 'you remind me of saint francis of assisi,' he sed thru the translater, 'because you have moved everyone in this room with your faith. you have made them cry with the power of your words. and that is love, buddy don, love all around, inside and out.'
suddenly i felt all warm n full n cumplete, bursting with energy n luv n warmth. i even felt god n meanin n i felt wonderful. n twuz a feelin that has lasted n sits thar waitin fer me to feel it by meditayshun on whut happend n whut led toot. but dont ye know i kin go years without memberin to member that?
the res of the time we give our tenchun tuther folkses problems n then twuz bout 7 pm so we went back to the greenhouse whar we all hugged about ten times till i lef n walked over to see emily.
she could see rite away that thay wuz sumthin differnt bout me n she wuz verr curious to here how thangs had gone n all. i tole her sum of it but ye cant tell the kinds of thangs that really need sayin, so i sed i needed to go meet virgil n git a ride home. i stood up n she did too. she had a habit of puttin her hands into her back pocket so she could have a bit of a swagger to her, almost lack a cat rufflin its fur, n she dun it then. i sed that i wuz a'gone hug her n not to be fraid n she froze. but i dun it innyway n purt soon she begun to melt till her head lay agin my chest. i patted her hed n pulled way n walked to the door.
i turned when i wuz on tuther side. i could see she wonted to hug but jes couldnt brang herself to but i only smiled. when i gut to the bottom of the stairs, she hollerd fer me to wait n sed she wood walk with me to the library. then she sed we should get drunk together sum time sos we could git beyond whutever twuz that wuz happenin but not happenin. n when i agreed, she suddenly kissed my cheek n ran back home.
so i cum over the nex saturdy nite n we sat out on her roof n drank us two or three rum n cokes while we planned whar we wuz a'gone eat dinner. corse, we gut to feelin rite good n then roarin drunk with ever lergickul symptom ever wuz. so i had to take a walk n we wuz laffin n we had to touch jes to hep each other stay up rite. purty soon, i had to upchuck n by then we wuz over by mcclung tower, so i lay down in the grass n dun it. then we walked a bit more till we gut to the liberry, n i dun it agin. then down on cumberland rite in frunt of the studint lounge, i lay under a bush n dun it a thurd time.
when we gut back to her house we larnt we had us no key. i dont member doin it, but turnt out i clumb up the drain pipe to the roof n broke into her place n nex thang i memberd wuz wakin up in bed with her. i wuz nekkid n she wuz wearin a long flannel night gown, but we wuz bof hurtin. n we talked bout whut had happend n then gut up to take showers n clean up, but the pain wuz so grate we went back to bed.
nex time i woke up, i lay back n put my arm roun her n she turnt on her side n cuddled agin me. we gut to talkin bout luv. n we red sum bout luv in the book of john. n we talked bout ackceptin ones ownself n all. n then i kissed her n she wuz kissin me back n purty soon twuznt only me that wuz nekkid n for i knew it we wuz near the promissed land but then she sed we couldnt on a counta she wuznt on the pill. we wuz froze by the statemint but purty soon she sed thay wuz other thangs ye could do. n i half to say twuz one of the longest n most amazin seduckshuns of my life n by time we could finely touch, we jes couldnt git a nuff. n ever thang wuz made sweeter by the fack that we couldnt finish, tho we cum mitey close n tiz a wonder she dint cum up pregnunt.
but she dint n i tuck to stayin with her ever nite. twernt easy on a counta she wuz very fragile emoshunally n verr dependint on me once i wuz thar, but i kindly lacked that n it seemed all rite if i wuz the strong one even if it mint listnin to her whine a lot. n thang wuz, when i wood be sittin with her in my lap n listin to whut wuz makin her wurry, i could feel whut el doc tore had sed bout luv.
then el doc cum n give a talk over at mcclung so i went n herd it. twuz purty much the same stuff only when twuz over, i went up n thanked him fer all he had dun fer me. he looked at me rite in the eye n sed, 'have fun with your death, buddy don. remember that even the flower that is thrown into the fire still bloomed.'
i thought bout thatn a long time n figgerd it mite have sumthin to do with emily n twuz the thang that broke the dam of emoshun twixt us. but then eli called me n ast could i cum spend the evenin on a counta he needed to talk. n whut he needed to talk bout turnt out to be killin hisself. we drove fer a long spell talkin bout it n i half to add mitt, part of me figgerd twuz jes a matter of time till he dun it, but i sed sum thangs that wuz on my mind thanks to that wurkshop, n he has quoted em back to me ever since.
furst, i sed how death is given n ye gone die no matter whut, so why hurry it along? tiz a simple concep, but tiz amazin how it wurks. he qutoes thatn a lot.
but whut he quotes the mos is on a nuther topick. i wuz splainin how since death wuz a given then thay aint no reason not to do thangs lack rite pomes n that tiz good to rite. i sed how when god makes a flower, he makes it so itll bloom. aint no reason the blossom has to be beeyootiful n smell so sweet. god coulda made insects that lacked horrbull smells n ugly thangs, but they cum out beeyootifull. same is true of folks, i sed, on a counta sumbidy lack eli that has blossoms n thats the reason god made him.
eli ast whut blossoms did he have n i ast him wuznt it obveeus? n he ast did i mean his pomes? n i sed i did, n that stuck with him a nuff that fer the furst time ever, he agreed to let me make copies of em, witch i been makin copies of everthang ever since.
innywho, i got home that evenin, witch that wood mean i gut over to whar i had moved into 1300 clinch with emily, only that evenin emily wuznt home.
so i wrote on my novel n felt myself bloomin.