Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu: The Real Disease is Fear

The Mask
Originally uploaded by ojodorado

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy had roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went...
"Wee wee wee" all the way home...

The world is all a twitter with swine flu, going 'wee 'wee wee' from coast to coast and continent to continent over the developing news of this pandemic.

We've had two cases all ready in the Bay Area,and yes, I do find myself looking askance at people when they cough,especially if they are sitting next to me.

I don't like getting sick any more than the next person, and I suspect we are going to be dealing with this for awhile, and that it is going to challenge us in both the individual and the collective sense.

The twitter comments are revealing

YumYucky: Swine flu has hit the University of Delaware campus, which is only a few miles from my home. I bought masks to have on hand for my family.

kvikks: New swine flu feared to be weaponized strain - (expand)
less than 10 seconds ago from TweetDeck · Reply · View Tweet

2 minutes ago from web · Reply · View Tweet

But, let's face it: on some level, we LIKE to be afraid. If we didn't, we wouldn't have so many movies and tv shows featuring horror, suspense, and brand-new cars hurtling into the air at 100 mph.

So, when something like swine flu comes along it's a great opportunity to participate in our very own horror movie: "How bad is it gonna get?" "Do I have it?" "Will I get it?"

At a recent visit to a game store the other day, the owner told us that the most popular game these days was called "Pandemic."

"And," he added, "what's really unique about this game is that it's not a competitive game, it's cooperative."

Another aha moment.

So, while we're all putting on our face masks and avoiding each other like, um, the plague, I hope we can remember how to play the game.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chaos and Socks

Man and Stone
Originally uploaded by ojodorado

This has, so far, been a chaotic week. Missed appointments, slipped up communications, lost cell phones, misplaced Stuff.

Oh,and get this--you know how easily your socks disappear from your life,so that you end up with always one sock insead of two? Well,today I went to pick up a box of my Stuff from a friend's house and we found a tiny little anklet that looked like it belonged to a child on the floor of her closet.

"Is this yours?' She asked.


"Not mine either," she said.

So my theory is that as we approach 2012 (the end of the Mayan calendar, and for some, a sweeping apocalyptic change of season), and life gets more chaotic, not only are more and more socks disappearing from our laundry into that interdimensional sock-hole that sucks them up, but now the interdimensional sock hole is regurgitating other people's socks into our lives so that we might find them on the floor of our closet, or in our laundry, or god knows where.

Whew. That was a long, and chaotic sentence.

But wait. I happen to be one of those rare people who thrive on a certain amount of chaos--I love the challenge of maintaining one's balance in the midst of it all.

Chaos theory says that chaos only appears to be random, it is really part of a structure that we simply are unable to decipher. So I figure if i find someone else's sock in my Stuff, it is probably trying to tell me something.

Now what that something is I don't know--I can only organize the data according to my own puny mortal mind, and come up with my own ideas.

Maybe it's the sock of some angel child who slipped into my friend's closet at night,and cinderella-like, left her foot covering behind.

Maybe it's trying to tell me that what I think is mine is really mixed up with what's other people's and what I think it other people's is really mixed up with what is mine. That maybe, let's get real profound here, what I think is organized neatly into My Stuff and Your Stuff is really Our Stuff.

So that all this chaos many of us in the world are experiencing right now is meant to shake up our ideas a bit about what Your Stuff and My Stuff really is.

For example, people who had lots of Stuff just a few years ago and looked askance at those that didn't now find their Stuff disappearing from beneath their, uh, socks. Which has forced some people to examine the importance of Stuff in general.

Whether we believe in God or in Chaos Theory or both, chances are that what we now call chaos will eventually be identifable as part of a much larger structure that we just can't see at the moment.

Chaos allows us to freefall into the beauty of unknowing, of realizing that we are not as in control as we thought. But when we cling to disappearing structures, we prevent chaos from washing over us and doing its job.

So if your socks are disappearing from your laundry, maybe it's time to let 'em go.

And if other people's socks are showing up unbidden in your life, maybe it's time to invite them in.

Give chaos a chance.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Fresh Out of Prison

Originally uploaded by ojodorado

Once again I am astounded by the encounters that a person can have simply riding the bus.

Today I was on the Greyhound coming back to the Bay Area from the Sierra Nevadas. After Sacramento the bus got pretty crowded, and it got loud. Some guy behind me was rapping enthusiastically to himself, his eyes glazed and a faint smile on his face like he had left part of himself on another planet. Another guy behind me was talking loudly about something, and I was trying hard to ignore his voice by burying my nose in a book on Chinese medicine.

Rapper guy just kept right on beboppin by himself and Loud Guy finally asked if anyone knew about local Bay Area busses, so I turned and answered his question. So Loud Guy and i get into a conversation about Chinese medicine and the book I am reading, and turns out he's talking loud because he's deaf. Also turns out he's just gotten out of prison a few hours ago, and he's reading a book by Bo Lozoff , a guy who teaches prisoners how to turn their cells into ashrams with the human kindness project.

The book has pictures of chakras and endorsements by people like the Dalai Lama and letters from prisoners all over the U.S.

Loud Guy's real name is David but he goes by Crow, and I can tell by talking to him that he's pretty nervous about being out of prison for the first time in three years. He's wearing a white t-shirt and loose dark pants and slippers and carrying a little bag and a hundred dollars. He apologizes for not having street clothes yet, he says a relative was supposed to greet him at the prison gate with clothes, but never showed up.

Out of his forty-two years, he says he's only spent six 'on the outside'--all the rest were in institutions of some kind or another.

He's gonna try real hard this time to not go back, he says, even though alcoholism 'runs in his family' and makes him do crazy stuff.

"Just one step at a time," he says, "just one step at a time."

The bus sails over the Bay Bridge and the wide expanse of the city and the bay open up before us.

"Wow," he says.

I leave him at the bus station on Mission Street, clutching his book and his bag, shivering in his white t-shirt, waiting for the next bus to take him to a homeless shelter in Marin.

Good luck, my friend.