I feel as if I am swimming in the roughest of waters and if I don't keep swimming I am afraid I will drown. I try to cry but there seems to be a shortage of tears and perhaps I need them to keep me restored for if I do I will fill these waters and surely I will in fact drown.
This morning I actually woke up sane and rested and I can't recall the last time I felt that way. It was a feeling that doesn't last long so I elected to avoid the news with the daily shooting, car jacking and robbery reports to instead watch Seth Myers and really laugh out loud. I need to hear myself laugh to remind myself I am capable of making sound.
As one ages one loses ones mind, ones looks and in my case my teeth. The later is being repaired beginning next week so the next 6 months are highly essential for me to remind myself there is a shoreline where I can finally land and that should be enough to keep afloat here in these deep red waters. As for my mind I have been upset for forgetting names of the numerous Musicians, Authors and Actors that fill my head and in turn my life so as I try to cope with what that means I think it means I just have a lot going on in my head. As for looks I have never been a looker but aging removes even that potential to cover it with makeup and a stellar personality. No kids having a personality is about the same as being good looking as that too fades over time.
As I write this I have a sign on my desk that says" IF YOU KNOW TEACH! IF YOU DON'T KNOW LEARN! It is on a clipboard where a bookmark I got at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville that says FIND GREATNESS WITHIN. I cannot say that these are two beliefs/mottos/expressions that have guided me these near 60 years and even now they too seem to fade in meaning.
One reason is that I have found myself placed in the schools here in the "vile and the city of it which comes from the word BullshIT as the city again prepares itself for another cluster fuck - the NFL Draft. The reality is that within less than a mile of the center of activities resides not one but two major draft picks that define Ghetto Housing - Cayce Homes and Napier Place. They are the center focus of crime and social ills that plague this city. A few miles West and North mark more dilapidated projects that ring the city of IT to remind people of the poverty and desperation that enabled this city to qualify for loans and grants under the varying Government programs that were designed to lift the city from poverty. Those coupled with the FEMA grants and loans from the flood of 2010 it enabled this city by the river to be rise above the flood lines and became awash with a ton of outside money and investment. From this rose the Ascend Amphitheater, Music City Convention Center and in turn all the corporate greed that played that field better than any Titan has ever played.
Follow the money is one expression I use now more than any other. It is the beacon in my lighthouse as I ask questions and try to dive deep to find funding, owners, foundations and others that appear on the landscape to build varying ports and piers and places of rest only to suddenly withdraw when another ship appears on the horizon. Jumping ship here is a necessary survival tactic if one is to make it in this city of it. I have seen the varying players of the stage jump on one issue take on the matter often tossing cards and flags that are awash with color and use those colors to lead ones to another path or away from the reality of the rings that line the city. For as long as you are in the race and in the lane you are still in the game. And this race is full of many runners.
The transit bill was one that I had the most vested interest and the swimmers in that race suddenly emerged to take the lead and one stands out - jeff obami carr. I had never heard of him and I found someone who knew him as this city of it is a small pool and many waders know all the swimmers at some point or another. This many was an activist back in his college days and now runs a theater group and what better an actor to the stage than a man who can say the script while cashing the checks sent to him by the founding fathers, all white, all male and all with vested interests that have nothing to do with bettering their community or the people within; however, their wallets is another type of life preserver they will cling tight. Mr. carr then ran for Mayor for a hot minute and then retreated behind the curtains like one of the many demons summoned by Oz to pull new strings. The transit bill died and the handlers of the puppet, the "beards," and the men behind the curtain withdrew to come another day when a show is needed. New performers will be found or the same old faces newly done to make them seem as if they cared all along will be there to ensure the audience is held captive to feign off disbelief.
We have those faces of Oz and new Captains of ships that arrive almost daily to capture the attention and more importantly the support of the true crew that keeps the ships afloat and in turn if you recall those were the ones who died on the Titanic. The poor, the faces of color, the immigrants, the laborers are all disposable as they can be replaced. Hands out and arms outstretched is the face of Liberty and in America freedom comes from money.
Nowhere I have I really seen how money empowers and enables a community like I have here in Nashville. Perhaps being surrounded by wealth that came from the Gates, Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos and the other billionaires and millionaires that align the shores of blue waters where I came from allowed me to focus on those issues that mattered in the bigger waters. I could teach and I could learn and I could find my greatness within as being rich in Seattle was no different that being less rich or less famous, you are are what you make yourself and that may explain some of the character of Seattle that defines it "weirdness" from the Seattle freeze to the Seattle Process. Waters that are colder lead people to jump out sooner and find their shores and ports to stay warm and often hide when it becomes too dangerous in which to swim. But from that comes from the chance to restore and revitalize. Not here in this vile the red waters are constantly churning but they are warm and in turn they are divided and as deep as the blood that poured into them from the endless battles that formed the landscape. And everyone here tries to stay afloat. And perhaps that is why there is such a deep divide more a canyon than a river which marks those who come from outside the South. We had battles, we had wars but the coolness of the climate, the longer winters and the shorter summers make people more willing to withdraw and to retreat to those safe spaces for which we have become so well known. We don't hug, we don't touch, we ask for consent and we ask permission. We clutch pearls and agree upon a plan that we debate, discuss, agree upon and in turn negotiate and then change when we realize that we failed to consider and we consider everyone at the table. That is why it is a process the winters are long.
At that defines Politics herding Cats versus Sheep. Funny as neither are known as water animals. I have said many times here observing the behaviors of this city of it and the people who have come here in search of the buried treasures that they believe align these shores that they are akin to sheep. They follow they run around and ultimately have no clue what the hell is going on. Cats on the other hand are annoying, smart and duplicitous, all while being adorable - when they choose to. At times amusing, at times fascinating but at most times it is tragic in both cases. What it shows is that the natives, the locals much like the Indians that were the true residents of this region and the one from which I came were the true holders of the map. They were the original migrants who understood the moves that were needed to stay alive and the reality of the climate in which they lived. They adjusted and they accommodated the environment and each other and yes they had their tribe and they were willing to shed blood in which to protect it.
Today we have our tribes and our nativism but it comes less with arms but more with words and that too shows the divide in my two waters. The ones here are full of guns and weapons and perceived threats and dangers and that is the way to resolve the problem through violence. In the other water from where I came it was through words and the same attacks came through those of the scholars of Latin via Ad Hominem ones that were thrown out with a life preserver but to remind you that you are less and unless you are willing to join one you will be one alone on your dock. There is no less tribalism but less nativism (funny when you spell check this word the alternative is negativism) as that defines the two - a willingness to let someone inside from the outside if they agree to never disagree.
I went on the monthly art crawl this Saturday and found myself immediately pulled toward my favorite place in Nashville, Hatch Print. I bought something as I almost always do on these ventures as oddly here there is a strong art community that is more a little bit rock and less roll. But the history behind Hatch is one that for all the history that aligns the streets and buildings here has relevance to me. And the piece I bought was from a woman with great wit and since her training there has ironically moved to Washington State. It was as if I had no other choice but to buy the piece as I knew again that waters flow in a singular direction for a swimmer and swimming against the current is often more challenging but always possible. But for me be it age or the fact that they are waters of which I am more than familiar no longer hold appeal; however, I do want to move back into colder bluer waters for many reasons as those are ones when I know to get out and when to get in. Warm waters are deceptive and that marks perhaps the most distinct tell about these waters is that lying here is not stillness not calmness but a perpetual state of the water beneath the shores. It is the deep center that runs the core of the South the ability to misrepresent, exaggerate, confabulate which marks the true culture of the South. It is a production of fabricated, distorted, or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive that seems to be why I find myself at odds in the world and with my view. I used to say lying was an act of cruelty and to harm but an act of storytelling is an act of creation and not of harm. And this Libra finally found a place that checks that balance in ways that makes one rethink that belief. No Church nor Prayer can offer a place of rest for this exhausted swimmer as I met my match in these swimmers who would exhaust Michael Phelps and make him leave the pool. These are waters that for the inexperienced requires a patience and training that I neither have nor want. From the Politics to their Religion, the expression that any port in a storm is one that is not applicable here. They offer no respite no place to rest and no chance to breathe. The air here is hot, sticky and it envelops you in a way that is not cooling in the least. A glass of Sweet Tea is hardly the refreshment one seeks after an exhausting race for survival and it is one drink I elect to pass on. It is as artificial saccharine as the one who proffers it. I am parched here body and soul and as the waters stay calm I am not. Once again I wonder if I should try a new stroke or just dog paddle as I await to finally swim out and away to find my shore and a place to finally rest.
I have many questions, no answers as that is the South, they never will not for failing to know the answer but to fail you in providing a resolution. And that is why I know that the South and its waters will rise again and with them bring much harm to those not willing to take a deep dive.