The Blue Hole? Are you sure?

Posted: October 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

I must have driven by this place 20 times and never seen it.  In the middle of nowhere.  A small town on I-40 120 miles east of Albuquerque.  It’s a nameless place.  I mean, it has a title, but it’s more of a description rather than a name.  Nobody in their right mind would ever declare the name of this beautiful place to be The Blue Hole.  Never.  Nobody would say that.

They call it a geological phenomenon.  A crystal clear, bright blue pool of water.  80 feet deep.  Spring fed.  It’s also 80 feet wide on the surface.  At the bottom,  it opens up in a bell shape to 130 feet across.  It has natural rock walls and the crystal clear blue water that is about 62 degrees year-round.  Standing over it, you can see straight to the rocky bottom.  Each minute 3000 gallons of fresh spring water flow up from the bottom and out into a stream.

What is it about a place like this?  There is something.  But people can’t quite put their finger on it.  They can’t quite say why it has the power to arrest their attention.  It’s so perfectly blue that I didn’t believe it was natural.  So clean I couldn’t believe there weren’t chemicals in it.  But it is that blue, and it is that clear, and it is that clean.  And it is that natural.  But I don’t know.  I don’t think those attributes are really what make it so mystical or attractive.

It’s beautiful, maintenance-free creation.  It flows.  Self-regulating.  It doesn’t need to be meddled with.  It doesn’t need to be saved.  Because it’s connected to the source, it is a source.  It offers life-giving water.  It doesn’t consume the life around it or rob it’s environment of precious resources.  It doesn’t ask for anything.  Doesn’t demand to be taken care of.  It doesn’t promise results if you first invest in getting it up and running.  It’s clean.  Refreshing.  It’s a never-ending oasis.  And it’s always here.  Always flowing.  Even if no one is drawing on it.  No pumps necessary.  No wells to dig.  Just a perfect, crystal clear, deep blue pool flowing from its source into the world around it.  All you have to do it pull off the desert highway and find it.  Just show up.

There’s nobody swimming here.  A sunny and breezy Saturday morning, yet no takers.  Though the rock retaining wall at the observation point is perched at a intimidating height, I stand here because it’s the highest point available.  Somehow I feel  that jumping from this point will most certainly guarantee I’ll be submersed in the pool below.  More certain than jumping in from ground level.  More committed once I dive.  The morning autumn sun and wind wrap around me as I look down and consider this leap and how cold the water will be and how certainly I will be engulfed in shock once I make this decision.  My heart begins to race.  I’ve been considering this too long.

I’ve been driving for four days.  2200 miles doesn’t begin to describe what a hellish time I’ve had of it.  It seems like everything went wrong, but it’s hard to say right now.  Sleep deprived and everything in my mouth and mind tastes strangely bitter.  I can’t trust my senses or judgments.  Last night’s chicken sandwich is in the back seat of my rental car because I was sure it was rotten.  It’ll take a few days before I really understand what this was about.

The drive from Santa Fe down to Houston, then to Austin, then back to Houston, and now back to Albuquerque where I’ll catch some kind of transportation the last 80 miles into Santa Fe.  All the money I was supposed to make delivering the paintings has been spent fixing fuck ups and tying up loose ends.  Blowing through time, money, and gasoline, just to get back to where I started four days ago.  It’s the kind of trip that ages a person in a way that no payment can justify.  Any attempt is an insult.  My life force is not for sale.  But there is reward that will make it worth it.  A gift.  Not to me.  From me.

I want that city.  The whole city.  That robbing, leaching, pit of dirty shit.  That vortex of pain and illusion fed by the gravity of 2.3 million people stuck together.  The seat of its county.  The center of one of the largest economies in the U.S.  I’ve always avoided it.  Ever since Bobby and I first passed through twelve years ago, I’ve done everything I can to avoid getting caught there with my pants down.  Go around it.  If I can’t then plan ahead so I don’t even have to stop there for gas.  And never get stuck there after dark.

But not this time.  No, this time it was time to face the music.  Face the stain that this intimidating city left on me those years ago.  Back when I was and wasn’t the very same person I am today.  I recognized its power even back then.  I consider Atlanta when I call it a lost cause.

You’re not getting out of here alive. And I believed that, to a certain degree.  At least I believed that I wouldn’t be leaving without leaving some flesh behind.  A human sacrifice to the ruler of this kingdom.  Which is why I found myself racing out of town as quickly as I could with a clutching chest and lashes on my back.  That place knew right where and when to strike.  How to hit a man who hasn’t established himself.  That town knows that when a man grasps for something, you can give him anything.  He who lacks invites an ambush.  He can be manipulated and defeated by the proper, albeit slight wind, if it blows from the right direction at the right moment.  It’s all in the set-up.

The details of how I ended up running from Houston aren’t important.  Who did what.  How things happened.  They’re just people, places, and things.  And in the end, none of that really matters.  All that really matters is that I set myself up for this.  Accepting full responsibility for my feelings and actions doesn’t come without a few god-damns and mother fuckers.

Establish yourself, son.  Nothing in the world could be more important than this right now.

Let’s make matters worse.  My cell phone is dead.  One day of use and my cell phone is dead.  My cell phone never dies.  And I have no place to sleep.  I had a place, but it was an ambush.  Evil people.  Evil plans.  And somehow I feel like the bad guy?  I have money in my pocket.  I could use it for a motel room.  But I’m going to need that money.  For what?  I don’t know, but I don’t want to spend it.  I need it.

I’ve got to get away from this place.  It’s not safe here.  Not in any way.  This downtown coffee shop won’t save me.  The pressure and discomfort are so thick.  Anxiety and fear.  I’m going to drive this rental van as far away as I can.  The problem is I have to be back in the morning to return this rental van and somehow pick up another car 20 miles away to drive back to Albuquerque.  This whole fucked up situation is causing more anxiety than it should.  How am I going to do this?  What is going to happen?  I’ve hardly slept at all.  25 hours of driving over the last two days.  16 more tomorrow.  Too much driving.  Not enough sleeping.  I don’t know anyone here.  Clinging to my money.  No place to stay.  Crowding me, crowding me out of my own mind.  Trying to force a state of panic or break down.  Maybe I can outrun this for the night.  Come back in the morning with a fresh perspective.

Something is out to get me.  Even at this gas station miles from downtown, the oppression I feel upon me has broken through the barrier of my flesh and is attempting to crowd me out of my own mind.  I’m just looking for a place to run to.  It’s bad enough going through shit like this. But when I think about the books I carry with me, the ones I’ve written.  The moments of brilliant truth that I’ve lived in and written about, but am not mature enough to share without being a hypocrite.  When you add the discouragement of my own words glaring back at me, convicting me of weakness and slavery, it makes moments like this so much worse.  You’re a slave.  You’re afraid.  I try to brush it off, but it’s too late for me.  I already know the truth.  And oppression welcomes the company of condemnation.  When I lose the space between my ears, there really is nowhere else to go.  But when you compress something as combustible as the human spirit, it only takes a spark to blow the whole world wide open.

Standing in line to pay for gas, I fidget and shift nervously.  A crack addict fiddles around at the counter.  My eyes follow him all the way out the door.  I turn back toward the register.  The door behind me opens again soliciting an instinctual glance.  An east Indian man walks in looking for some place to charge his cell phone.  He doesn’t look like a man who would plan poorly.  Interesting.

I pay for gas and pass the Indian man standing outside next to an outlet as he charges his phone in the dark.  I don’t know where I’m going, I just know I want to get as far from this city as possible.  Try to outrun this oppression.  Escape the clutches of this place.  This physical pressing in my chest that is trying to overtake me.

But that Indian guy is charging his phone.  And I never run out of juice on my phone.  Not on a day I started with a full charge.  And that Indian guy…  And me…  Maybe I’m here for a reason.

And I suddenly begin to remember who I am.

Exploding from a fortified corner of my mind, I fill my whole body, and begin moving outward from there.  The weight is immediately gone, my chest lightens, and I feel my power and steady mind return to me.  I fill the gas station and blow through the solid oppression leaving nothing but a vapor.

Maybe I’m here for a reason.

And suddenly I start smiling.  I can see things I couldn’t see a moment ago.  Something that makes me smile.  Not the nice kind of smile.  It’s the dinnertime smile.  And I’m hungry.

“Do you mind if I charge my phone in that outlet too?”

Of course he doesn’t.

He’s tall for an Indian man.  Maybe 6’1”, and as thin as you would expect.  Typically shaped with round glasses and no particular style.  We talk for a while.  He’s here on business.  I tell him I think it’s too much of a coincidence that we should both be standing here charging out phones.

“Is there anything you need?”  a total transformation on my behalf.

No, thanks.

I give him my card.  We talk a little longer though neither of us is very interested in the details of the other’s life, but both interested in the other none the less.  And in this dark place I shine in the strangest way.  I’ll be leaving this gas station better than when I found it.

A friend from New Hampshire calls.  He doesn’t know I left him a message 15 minutes prior.  He feels the oppression too.  It started at the same time.  I tell him what just happened.  I know this is about more than the Indian man.  “What should we do now?”  Neither of us is sure.  It’s late, and I’m tired, but I don’t want to pass up this opportunity to blow something wide open.  I don’t plan on ever coming back here.  This is my chance to make this right.

I’m gonna drive back to downtown Houston.  The source of my oppression and discomfort.  I’m gonna find the heart of this place, walk into it, take of my shoes and stand in it and on it barefoot.  And I’m going to establish myself there, like a 1000 pound man.  Here I am.  Present.  Aware.  I’m not running.  I’m not defending.  I’m here to feed.  I’m going to stand so deeply in this place that my bare feet will sink into the ground and infect the whole city with light and clarity.  Then I’m going to offer this city as a gift.

How am I going to survive this place? Finding the answer to a question like this can be difficult sometimes.  In moments like these there actually are no right answers to a question like this.  There are no right answers because I’m asking the wrong question.  What’s the right question?  How is this place going to survive me?

Come on, remember who you are!  You’re not here to run away.  You’re not the underdog.  You’re the predator.  The agitator.  You’re the game changer.  You’re the viral light.

Back in front of the coffee shop.  The very parking spot I was stationed at.  I’m home.  In the back of the minivan I lie down.  If the heat will allow, I’m going to get some sleep for the night.

Some people fight people.  I  fight cities.  I don’t understand it.  This is just how it is.

62 degrees.  That’s some pretty cold water.  Looking down into the spring from this height is intimidating.  I’m genuinely scared right now.   Wish my friends were here to shame me into this right now.  Someone else here to be as freezing cold with me as I’m about to be alone.  But I don’t want to miss this.  I’m already up here.  Standing at the highest point in my shorts.  People are watching.

You’re not going to do it.  You won’t jump in.  Just get off the ledge.

That’s all the motivation I need.

I quickly pick up speed on the way down.  My body quickly whips into a ball as I hit the water.  It’s cold.  It’s perfect.  It’s here waiting.

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