Surfing an Empty Sea

Misunderstanding our world as a machine
We have brought about an empty world.
Complexity, a healthy living world,
Reduced to water, gas, and rock.

We barely register the losses.
Our own lives circumscribed
By the limits imposed on our imaginations.
We take our impoverishment for granted.
Or blame it on others. Anything
To deflect responsibility, to bury our complicity.

Immersed in the violence we have wrought.
Violence we projected onto existence.
Violence becoming inescapable.
Violence pernicious, all pervasive.
So much unavoidable
So much overwhelming
We lose our capacity to recognize it
As we spread it around.

Whatever awakens our awareness
So quickly buried in the pain of recognition.
Complicity shoots through us
Threatening our dissolution.
We recoil rather than accept
Dissolution as a gift, a blessing.

Surfers and walkers, alike expecting
Of the sea, of the shore
No more than water moving,
Bare sand beneath their feet.
Tourists in an abandoned temple
Entertained by fragmentary remains
Cannot imagine the life eliminated
Creating the void they now traverse.

How they’d be incommoded if the sea
The sand, the air were repopulated?
The shore a locus of interaction
Instead of a barren curiosity?

The sheer irrelevance of life reduced to mechanical acts
Made possible and sustained by immeasurable violence
And the precipitous draw-down of all that sustains us.
An irrelevance itself sustained only if we stand among ruins
Forgetting what has been sacrificed to empty the stage
For our presence.

A presence we spend all our energies avoiding.
Slipping eagerly into past or future.
Illusion pushing everything aside.
Illusions that can only feel threatened
If in passing some remnant of the fabric of life
Pierces our empty gaze.
Any eye not our own dead and empty kind
Is a threat. An accusation. A mirror of our alienation
Foxed by a glimpse of what lies outside our emptiness.

Unable to tolerate a world that rejects our insistence
We strive to eliminate everything that confronts our lies.
Chasing salvation or security elsewhere.
Nowhere, no time, no when.
Anyplace but here and now.
Closing every door,
Eliminating every chance to alter our course
slow the acceleration of destruction.

Getting both what we fear most and desire most.
Neither what we need.
What would sustain us.
What would, at the very least,
Not add to the pressure of destruction unleashed.

“I – want – to – be….”
How does such a simple statement
Hold within it the fate of our inheritance of life?
So impoverish our legacy?

Only one of these four words holds true.
A truth distorted and destroyed by those preceding it.

Nothing beginning in “I,”
That cleaver hacking at the nature of existence,
Can lead to anything good.
Tumbling from this first miss-step
Into the horrors of desire –
Hedon or ascetic.
This foul brew shot at existence.
Obliterated by the force of a desire to be.

The danger so well hidden from us.
These sentiments seen as “self-evident.”
A sign of the depth of our misunderstanding
As well as a clue to how we may step out of its way.
Running down tracks chased by a killing machine of our own making,
Refusing to see that while it cannot but follow its track,
We need only step off.

Instead we insist, “Again!”
“Again!” The surfer paddles out for the next empty wave.
The walker already scheming his return.
Each valuing only an empty escape.
Passing over this moment and its promise without…
Without a glimmer of what is required.
Buried under desires in an enforced isolation.
Blind to anything but more of the same.



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