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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Monday, March 26, 2007

On What Possessed Me To Go To Mexico: A Year Ago in Retrospect

It must have been exactly one year ago. The pollen was beginning its unholy tirade of a plague. Not even nature can go through a rebirth without her birthing pains. It always jabs me in the nostrils and the eyes…as I am experiencing this very moment as I write. My pain, however, was not focused on anything that had to do with birth or renewal, or laughing, singing springtime. No, it was not the green tidings of a beginning; it was the green waving of an ending. It was the early spring, but the autumn of my day; the harvested fall of a good thing. My pain had its own leaves to shed. My pain…was a pain that owned me. I could not just cast if off has though I owned it.
And why should I open up a valve of a cracked heart for you to peer in? Why should you care about MY pain? There is enough of it spread throughout the world already. Facebook and blogs are designed to divert us from our pain…not introduce us to more. Who really advertises pain these days? We’d rather forget it exists and go nose-diving into our pleasures. But there is every reason to believe that with every pain comes rebirth and with every thawing winter, the bud-yielding springtime. And those who distract themselves from the pain miss its magical renewal.
My purpose in writing this is to surmount the churning digestion of an event; it tastes bitter to the tongue, but pumps iron to those blood vessels. Writing is a catharsis; an audience is a group of surgeons; your reading eyes, sharpened scalpels that though, cut into me, connects the severed tissues into some sense of coherent form. So my pain was there as it always seems to be, lurking around an event, ready to show its froggy eyes at the first hint of a soul’s nighttime.

Also, the thing that you must know about dramatically-inclined people is that they particularly attract dramatic situations, as though they go out of their way to be dramatic. Maybe even to the point of improvising on an otherwise dull situation until it is exactly to their taste, downright dramatic. But one thing you can bet your own pity party on is that if a dramatically-inclined person actually goes through a real dramatic situation, he or she will replay that experience again and again in their own heads. It’s the movie that the dramatically-inclined person can never tire of. For he or she is the star and the director and even the writer, to rewrite the script in that film set, that Hollywood of the Imagination: Many times, he or she will write the script even more dramatic than it actually occurred, making everything entirely over the top. However, there are times when everything is already over the top, and all the dramatically-inclined person has to do is replay a phrase or two and the entire stage set is seeping in drama. This the dramatically-inclined person will air as mental reruns for about a year and then he will try to give his very own version of the dramatic situation in full novel fashion detailing every foul look and every rolled eye. Ahem…

However, the “clever” dramatically-inclined person who is different than just the dramatically-inclined person will almost entirely omit the dramatic situation to give it an air of intrigue. He focuses on the after effects of the drama, thereby making the reading more curious of this particular shroud of dramatic mystery, and therefore to the ambivalent reader, makes the whole piece half-concocted in their own imaginations as to what happened, which renders it that much more dramatic for them and for the writer. I, my good people, happen to be a dramatically-inclined person. And I will stake a limelighted stage performance, that I am also clever.
The drama had occurred. I will not mention what the fight was about, or even her name, or who she was. If one is a Christian, one should strive to not write about someone they had a falling out with. When you no longer speak to a person, you should not speak too much about them. Do not give their memory too many words. This will deliver two things. No stabbed backs and no lasting effigy that they meant that much to you. You wipe your hands off, keep your head up, and walk away whether or not inside you are all broken. I wish that I could add that that which is not spoken of is soon forgotten…but this would be a lie.

Perhaps the biggest let down in love is not how little is really out there, but how little you, yourself hold within. To speak that glorious 3 word phrase should hold us to more. Perhaps, that was my biggest disappointment. How one month I could love…the next, I could hate. I wanted to run from this realization that maybe that is all there is. The flimsiness within myself and the flimsiness of others. I needed something solid and constant. And all the while with the job I didn’t like, and the town that I seemed to be trapped inside of…a dazzling new idea fell on me. It was those types of ideas that fall from out of nowhere…that for the less crazy, we pass off as absurd, but for the half-mad, we consider invigorating. It was a desert whiff of Mexico. It was that scorched slab of fierce sunlight from below the border in an otherwise dark corner of suburbia America with its crumbled hopes that set this mind at ease. It was the search, the test of putting myself out there to see just what God would do. If he actually listens, if He actually cares, and if He actually does provide for us. My faith needed some sort of transplant. It needed livable examples. And I, and here I admit my immaturity, needed escape. And a little adventure on the side could never run wrong with me, either. As a lover, I proved poor. But as an adventurer, I always prove superb. Give me some of that desert air, some of that lime in my taco. Let me hear God’s name sung in Spanish once more.

I think in images. Perhaps, that is the only true way to explain my reasons for going to Mexico. I’ll picture something in my head and if I can just seek and find out that perfect picture than I am happy. I like to paint my own pictures of paradise because reality always seems to far short. The image crept up on me and like many very strong images…they are just as symbolic as they could be actual. Somewhere far away, I would be walking in an isolated desert. That fiery Mexican sun vivifying the ground on which I trod, mountains, and dusty winds. -An ancient cathedral in the background. And this feeling that I have been traveling, wandering through many, many things. Sun-scorched and thirsty, so thirsty…but journeying and knowing that there’s water out there, knowing that even in the midst of loneliness and isolation that there is community. And knowing that even in the appearance of abandonment, there is presence, perhaps the most intense sense of presence. This is why I went to Mexico.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mt. Cheaha Again; A Poetic and Spiritual Reprise

Warning: the below is of a highly poetical content. For those who tend to dislike anything lyrical or dramatic, I suggest you go watch television and not give a thought to your shallow existence, for those who like poetry, may these words deliver a shred of that light which I attempted at portraying. It took place today at a beautiful precipice at Mt. Cheaha in northern Alabama, a place which takes the credit and the blame for first inspiring me to take poetry serious. Nature was my first Muse and it still continues to ravish me.9 years ago…did I not wind through these paths, intent on feeling that that which lies hidden behind the clamorous façade of society where men cling and scramble their dissonant tones into the glossy murk? And yet, then from this same oratory of nature, on these rocks, did the entire scenery of mountain, sky, and field clash together in their rhapsodic symphony of grandeur? Did my eyes not catch the vision? My ears hear the chorus ring across the valley? Have I not sought in every nook of creation this sweet, solemn music, heard its lullaby, and resolved to sing it myself?From this overlook, the trees sway in ticklish motion, catching the invisible, yet poignant heralds of the sky. When I first caught the glimpse of this wild mountain theatre, its sight, echoed down deep into the bosom of man universal. Sunlight and moonlight are incorruptible instruments, full-powerful, and they charm everything into its sanctified serenity, by the soothing fingertips of God, tearing through the azure-vaulted sheets, of the day and its shadowed night, and strumming His chords onto mountaintops and cliff sides for those who have ears. –And I’ve been there wondering did I not make the firm commitment in striving to embrace this Spirit, and how to record its violent reactions waking in my soul?I’ve followed It down the gilded streams of the dawn’s ransacked days, when the meadows sparkle in laughter and the drowsy dew hangs on the green coattails of nature’s rebirth. I’ve seen His vision before…when lids veil the carriages of sight with their own dark world and hush the quibbling impressions of earth with silence’s sonorous tune.You were as bright as the sun, wrecking the skies in havoc, unleashing your beauty to the trees and clouds, I watched you walk over hills into the golden netherworld glow, a captive of your intent, a prisoner of your theme.But how my rage has blinded my sight and the thought that you have walked away has burned its rebellious fires in my days and nights. Half of where I look, I see the destructive pages of bitterness charred black beneath the imprint of the years. Disappointment has its tale. But to hold onto that vision of light and hope when the far off mountain horizon is dimmed in the sacred blue of love and ecstasy, and to call it by one name, this has been my fight and my quest for all these years. My eyes now catch sight of a hawk riding upon the winds. His turn and his movement cut into the skies like a creature of graceful faith. The sunlight breaks through the heavens, peeling through the clouds. To keep these moments eternal, as if to freeze the mountains’ pious orchestra can never be. The music must have movement; it must vibrate. And since I strain my senses for this rhythm, I too must travel on. But before I go, one last glimpse of the golden sun perched on the treetops of yonder mountain, of winds billowing the forest path, of some Creator blazing in the heart of nature, vibrant and beautiful and...most of all...there.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Tornado Chronicles

Storms are a turbulent necessity. The grayness is nonnegotiable; that long weeping cloud is a component and ligament of the bright golden-clad days. And there’s nothing to be anxious over a bit of rain. But Thursday, I had no idea that a full-blown tornado was kicking about my hearth and homelands like a drunken giant in a fist-flinging fury.

I had been at work down in the famous Selma, Alabama; doing my job; being a rep. When out of the forests, pastures, and swamps of L.A. (Lower Alabama as we like to say) a massive storm, whirls of winds and dust, comes waltzing through the land. A tornado is a sad plight. It’s a rain cloud that wants to dance instead of weep. And somewhere deep inside, this horrendous black-biled giant can never shake off its melancholic nature fully. Its attempt at dancing turns into a furious salsa of wind and rain, of heated lightning, of perturbed frolic. This titan’s fancy footwork is heavy-heeled…and how the neighborhoods brace themselves in its ricocheting steps. The striving for jollity transforms into a clumsy rampage. Anger is its drumbeat and chaos is its only rhythm.

On Thursday, I found my knuckles wrapped around the steering wheel of my new car driving on roads permeated with this solemn-storm sounding music. I didn’t want to drive through Montgomery at 5 o’clock in the afternoon with a storm raging, so I opted on one of the greatest ways to travel…county roads. A person in this day and age can pull onto the pot-marked back roads of Alabama and wonder if he will ever emerge back into civilization still intact. And that’s under normal circumstances; add onto it the adverse situation of a tornado ravaging the countryside and ones chances are slimmed considerably. That traveler is no longer a mere civilian passing through; he or she becomes a sojourner on a quest to get out the other side of these enchanted lands.

The sky was a somber purple color. It always is when something tremulous is afoot. It’s that gloomy, yet splendorous hue of dusk suspended in time. It’s as though the sun wishes to depart from what it sees, while the moon and stars delay their entrance, reluctant at setting their night-piercing eyes on what is waylaying the land. So the cosmic stage is left barren, no stars, whether by day or night wishing to shine any limelight on the pervading scene. And here I come rip roaring through the countryside. Eyes open and alert at any spiral formations of cloud, and jaw set determined to make it home to Dothan alive and without a scratch on my brand new Honda. The sights that unfurled before my eyes were beyond eerie. I saw power lines down and trailers demolished. This surge of havoc took off entire walls from houses while still leaving the furniture untouched. People assembled out on church doorsteps and the rain splintered down like a sparks off a frantic torch burning somewhere not on earth. Bedazzled and perplexed the crickets that normally began to warm up their songs for their nocturnal serenades gapped in awful silence. Cemetery stones glowed more in the subtle dusk than the light of the sky dared. Old church steeples pointed towards the ominous skies in stoic prophecy. Things were not right in Alabama.
Some sheds I’d pass by wondering if that was the footprint of the tornado or if that was just a shed of Alabama, a common sight…a lop-sided attempt at carpentry. But, I reckon for the most part, much of the devastation that I saw was the wake of this raging giant. I pressed on as the sky grew darker and more electric. Nearly all the radios were centered on the personage of this dark and wind-wielding tyrant, the tornado. I had found out that it had hit Enterprise (my actual birthplace although Dothan is what i claim to be my hometown) and entirely demolished the high school there. I journeyed on and at Troy, I knew I had a straight southwards shot down to Dothan….one hour. But on this stretch of highway…in between Dothan and myself lay that dastardly tornado playing tackle football with barns, trailers, and schools. I gritted my teeth and continued my course. Why, you may ask? Well, I knew that the tornado was heading east and not north. So the chances of the tornado and myself, both of us traveling at a fast rate, our two points converging at an intersection, were very slim. I distrusted staying in one place more than moving in the direction where the tornado was. (notice past tense here). I got home without a single brush with the whirling monster. Just the awful view of what it did to the unfortunate others. That night I went to bed…Praise be to God. The next morning I awoke to the news of another storm…this one more personal; my grandmother was on her deathbed. (Entirely unrelated to the tornado.) So I will drop this story now and pick up both parts later. My grandmother who has now passed on is a woman who deserves a note by herself. And then the actual reconstruction effort and result of the tornado is definitely worth mentioning as well. Until then.