Saturday, December 5, 2015

Share #27: Chicken fried chicken & some jumper cables

Some friends invite me to dine with them to be sure I will eat. Others decline my invitations. Who am I responsible for? Who is responsible for me?

A Chicago artist I met through Vanessa contacted me recently. If I was still in Seattle, would I meet and welcome her friend Nate to the city? He is relocating here. Well I needed to eat and thought, yes, I must meet this Nate. We met at a dive bar, a place I'd never been. He had an I Heart Science pin on. The heart was anatomically correct. He was finishing his $2 tacos and beer when I arrived. I asked if he wouldn't have more. If it would help, he said, he would. Let's go somewhere. Too many TVs. We walked to Hattie's Hat. I order a meal and a drink. He ordered a spinach casserole and a beer. We celebrated his new job and his new apartment.

Nate's been living in his car since October. He came to Seattle to start a new life and get away from the harsh Chicago winters. His dream is to live on a boat and travel from the islands, where he lives, to the city to sell his cultivated mushrooms. He is working as a house cleaner. I asked why. It pays $17 plus benefits. During dinner he told me he doesn't kid himself. There are people out there who are more valuable to society, who should earn more money. I stepped into this line of fire to point out his singular perspective, material production. If he were to look into the values of kindness or humility, or were to consider his spirit of adventure, or his volunteerism, or his ability to draw people in and make them feel safe, he might be at a different place on the scale. Why should we live in a one scale world?

He told me about his bicycle trip across Mexico long ago and about his coffee shop in Chicago and about his father and his friends in Iowa. I told him about the books I'd been reading and about my search for the truth and the miraculous. He told me about an experience he had in his early teens. He sometimes saw in blue. Everything was blue to him. He shared this with one friend at the time who said he'd had a similar experience where everything went red. He and his friend invented an explanation for this. They were superheroes, of course.

Nate was raised an atheist and today he claims to loves science. He loves how science can explain everything. He said he'd read about the Tao growing up and his Dad had been into Buddhism, but that mostly he found life and spirituality didn't meet up in the world. Philosophy happens in books and science happens in the world. I scanned my recent history. When didn't I, for sure, feel this way? When I was walking last year. When I was walking in 2011. When I was working and lying down at Mt Pleasant Cemetery in 2012. I asked him if he felt this way on his bicycle trip. He paused. He wasn't sure. We are all agreeing to this, all the time. That's how I feel. This idea that what's real and deep and connective gets shoved into the cracks of our otherwise material lives. What else might we agree to? Or disagree to?

Nate ran his battery down this week charging his tablet. He asked me about the service station on the corner, asked if they were reputable. They are swines, I said. I offered to give him a jump. There are cables in my car. I used to leave my lights on. After not having a car for 17 years, it was a hard habit to break. I used to lock my keys in the car. Breaking into and getting a jump from strangers, these were regular occurrences.

After dinner, we walked to his car. It was loaded with stuff. There was a bike on a rack on the back. Far more stuff than I own at present. It was drizzling. The street lights were hard to see by. Which was the positive and which the negative terminal? We attached what we thought were the right clamps to the right terminals, but then sparks flew out and smoke began to rise. Yiee! Science. The clamps and cable were hot to touch. Something's wrong with this science. I was getting nervous. I started to imagine all the movies I was in. Who'd really sent this man? What end I was coming to? After a few more tries, I located, for certain, the negative and positive symbols imprinted on the battery. We'd had it backwards. We switched the cables and his engine started up. Phew!

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