Part One: Friday, Episode One – Hindu Temple Or Trump Hysteria?
I began making escape plans Wednesday Morning. First thing out of bed, in my inbox, bad news, and all around me people were losing it, hair pulling, wild-eyed, weeping hysteria. I know, “this time it’s different,” but I’ve heard that argument applied to elections every single cycle, “We have to stop Bush, the other Bush, Romney… now Tump… whoever. It’s always so urgent, so desperate, so much more important than last time, as if the fate of the world depends on it every damn time. Nope, no one’s EVER allowed to vote third party, no one’s ever allowed to vote for who and what they believe in because we’re all being manipulated by fear mongers demanding we vote in another worthless Democrat, or we’re snorted at contemptuously for daring to do what we feel is right, etc. Number one, I don’t participate in “lesser of two evils” voting, and number two, I will NOT be manipulated by fear.. not yours, anyway. I have my own fears manipulating me, say, for example, the same old same old system running us ever deeper into the ground while we wait for people elected by cowards on both sides who, at best, do little more than slap band-aids on open wounds, or or at worst, dig at the wounds, and what is the open wound? Soul-sick broken America. The smartest and hippest among us think the system is broken, the news isn’t even that good, America itself is broken. The system cannot work within a nation with a broken consciousness. The problems we have are beyond the system, beyond the game of musical chairs we just played this past Tuesday.
Sorry, group, Trump is NOT the problem. Hilary was NOT the solution, she was a band-aid on a gaping and fetid wound. The maggots are already in the wound, what good will a band-aid do? The wound is simply that we are a declining empire, a wounded dragon, and for decades we have let ourselves become obsessed with d short-sighted, extremist divisive politics on both sides. Yep, 24 hour news channels, news comedy shows, the relentlessness of our Facebook feeds. It’s just one HUGE fear bubble, and we keep blowing the damn bubble up around ourselves. Frankly, two things come to mind: first, we were all better off when we watched the six-o’clock news and forgot about it; secondly, we were all better off when people had the decency to keep their politics to themselves. What happened to the privacy of the voting booth? Now people press you into political conversations that, in more civil times, were considered inappropriate to hold in polite society. We’ve let politics not only consume us, but we have let it wholly divide us, and I don’t see ANY way back to sanity. I don’t care which side we’re on in this new civil war, both sides are utterly fucked until we realize that we’re all just Americans… hell, we’re all really just citizens of the world.
I’m not playing that game, I don’t care how much someone feels it’s my duty as a thinking person to “be pragmatic” and vote for Hilary… I want no part of this bizarre mutant monster that is today’s political world. I don’t want that shit on me. I am not participating in that karmic outhouse.
Yep, after the election all my friends had their heads immersed up Twitter and Facebook’s ass of fear, every friend I had was lost in their cones of fear, so what did I do? I got the hell out of Dodge, and do you know what I discovered once I hit the road and started dealing with real people outside of the cones of fear of my progressive friends? I discovered that NOTHING had changed, nope, not a thing. Sure, we can spend all damn day on Facebook reading carefully selected horror stories about mentally handicapped children being abused by Trump supporters, or about the horrible graffiti going up, we can spend all day fretting over the precious few examples of Trump-mania, but the truth is, most people are just going about their business as usual. If you’re terrified, things haven’t changed that much once you sign out of Facebook and turn off the 24 hour hellhole of ever-flowing “news” It’s no longer “news,” folks, it’s all opinion at best and obsession at worst. If you’re terrified… walk away from your damn computer, step outside of the cone of fear, trust me, you’ll like it.
The last thing I want to say on this, to all those of you (and they are legion) who are prepared to flee the country declaring Trump the new Hitler (which is not impossible… but) let’s take a deep breath, there is nothing so far to suggest that he is an inhuman monster… he’s an asshole, sure, but there is a world of difference between an asshole and an inhuman monster. Let’s just wait and see what he turns out to be before we freak. I used to get all my family’s right-wing nonsense in my FB feed, all that stuff about how Obama was gonna take away all your guns, turn us into socialists, and make Sharia law the law of the land, the Right-wingnuts were pulling their hair out over this shit, and how much of it happened? Well… not a bit. In fact, apart from the brilliant maneuver of making us all debtors to insurance companies, very little changed directly because of Obama, he pretty much kept waging the same Bush-era wars, it was business as usual. Let’s just assume the same is gonna happen with Trump, and if it doesn’t, if Trump does enact all his lunacies, let’s REACT as needed.
A people busy overreacting will be incapable of reacting appropriately when called upon to do so. Why? because hysterical neurotic freaked-out people cannot think straight.
Yeah, Wednesday morning I had the choice, get sucked into Trump hysteria, or get the hell away. For a start I took my class out for lunch and then to my house so they could spend the day in the woods getting some perspective, and all the while I made plans to get awaya. Now, regarding my decision to leave town, I won’t say what was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but a course of action was proposed that was going to gut my life, leaving me with NOTHING. I was facing the possibility of life in Gainesville with the only reason I had to be here gone for good. This was impossible news to bear, especially as I had been suffering a slow burn of anxiety for a very long time already. Now, with the old anxieties alive and well in me and this new one large in my head, I began to overreact, at least internally. I had two choices, wallow in that, or go do something else. I began doing research, I began making calls and moving money around. My plan, quietly disappear for several days, heal, maintain (hell… FIND) my center, and let the election storm pass. My plan, as it turned out, was to drive up to Atlanta to the Hindu Temple, spend some time with Lord Ganesh, Ma Durga and Lord Shiva, then drive up to Sadhguru’s ashram in Tennessee. I figured some time with Gods, gurus and fresh mountain air would do me good. Part of this plan, no phone calls, no internet. I made reservations, did all the prep, told one person (dear Joe Courter), turned off my phone and internet, and hit the road. Well, as it turns out, none of it worked out properly, but what became of my escape was far more beautiful than what I had planned. Then again, my life’s been like that. So many times when life upended me, it was only because I was going in the wrong direction.
I hate traveling alone, frankly, to be honest, I hate that my life has become one big ALONE. I go to bed alone, get up and go to lunch alone, go home and spend the day alone, go to a movie alone, eat dinner alone, watch a movie alone and go to bed alone… only to get up alone and do the whole lonely routine all over again day in and day out; nope, no best friend to pass the time with, no one to casually have dinner with, no one to hold me at night, no one to hold onto when I’m scared, I got no one. I, Barefoot Justine, may be an internet sex symbol to a few, a symbol of barefoot abandon to a few others, but none of that has done me a damn bit of good. Guys come all day long to look at my topless pics, but not a single man has asked me out in over 4 years. No, I didn’t want to travel alone, in fact traveling alone terrifies me, but the only thing worse than traveling alone was going to be spending the next several days alone in my room binge-watching Starsky and Hutch (I’m up to season 2) while my friends and life fell apart around me. So, I hit the road, as usual, the most anxious part was the planning, once I got in the car and got some music on, I felt the pleasure of freedom and release that only a road trip can deliver.
And you know what? Contrary to our self-perpetuating cones of Facebook fear, Trump’s America looks exactly like America before the election. We’ll see what happens later, but for now, the sun still shone, people were still nice, and most people were just doing what they always do, did, and will do. Probably the most important thing I realized was driving away from it all was healthy.
I hate driving long hours on the road, always anxious that my car’s gonna blow, but back home my mind was gonna blow, so what the hell. Everything went great, until I got off 75 to find the Temple. The directions were intimidatingly complicated, full of immediate turns and confusing information. To make matters worse, I realized that none of the roads in Atlanta are marked. I kept making turns based on my best guess as to what road it was I was turning on. After a while I became terribly panicky–I hate being lost, but miraculously I ended up on the road the temple was on, but I had no idea where it was, and it wasn’t where the directions said it would be. Then, just as planned, my oil light came on. Yep, that’s why I hate traveling, more to the point, traveling poor. I’ve never in my adult life made enough money to buy a car I could trust on a road trip, and this car was no exception. I pulled into the first gas station I found, walked in and asked “Where’s the Hindu Temple?” The Indian behind the counter said, “There.” Sure enough, Ganesh had delivered me AND broke my car down right in the shadow of the (UNMARKED) Temple. It was right behind the trees of the very spot where my oil-drained car sat, no sign or anything, but right there behind the trees. Then a lovely young Indian boy offered to help me with my oil problem. Like a true gentleman, he guided me through the whole process and put all the oil in my car for me. Listen group, I’m not into this modern-woman bullshit. I don’t want left to be strong and learn to do these things for myself, I want some guy to roll up his sleeves, pop the hood and take care of it just like men were born to do… dammit! I don’t wanna have to prove to men that I can do heavy dirty work, frankly, I don’t want my fingernails broken, nor do I want my make-up smudged. I always kinda liked it, when I went to see Granny Glover up in the mountains, that the men hung out in the garage and women in the kitchen.
My car filled with oil, I got in and laughed, then bowed to my dashboard Ganesh, not only had he delivered me (after the chaotic directions and random which-turn-to-make decision-making) to the Temple gates, but to a gas station where lovely Indian men worked! Now, one might ask, if Ganesh is so great, why didn’t he just stop the oil-leak? I have a theory about that… Ganesh is not a mechanic. Ganesh guides consciousness, removes obstacles that are created through consciousness, the oil leak and bad directions were mechanical issues out of my control, but my random turns and arrival at EXACTLY the right gas station into the hands of helpful smiling Indians in the shadow of the Temple itself… well, that is Ganesh helping me master consciousness. Consciousness, that’s Ganesh’s business, the car, that’s my problem.
I pulled up to the Temple and felt a sense of relief, but didn’t know what I was going to do about my leaking car and the rest of my trip to the ashram, so I did what I usually do, I started to work out the problem. See, I have anxiety issues, and I have had them so long that I know how they work. I knew if I went into the Temple I would have been immersed in anxiety, so I began to work out how to deal with this new information (i.e. my car leaking oil profusely) before even trying to pursue my spiritual vacation any further than the parking lot. I realized that I could cancel my further drive to Tennessee, so I made that call, and realized that if I kept cans of oil in the car I could probably limp home and have a mechanic I know look into it, and THEN I went into the Temple, wondering how the hell I was going to find my way back to 75, as there was no way I could remember all the complicated twists and turns that got me there.
Temple life is something I have really missed. I can’t overstate how important having a nearby temple is to me, and NO, the Temple Of the Universe may be amazing for many people, but I need a straight-up Hindu Temple with straight-up Hindu rituals and Deities. As soon as I stepped in I teared up, it felt like someone was baking chocolate chip cookies in my chest. And when I bowed before Ganesh, tears streamed my cheeks. I have a Ganesh at home, but I have really missed the experience of seeing Ganesh in a Temple, of being with Ganesh in a Temple. Of course I thanked him profusely for guiding me there and for the help I got at the gas station below. I next visited Ma Durga, and wept again, but as always seems to happen, it wasn’t until I bowed before Shiva that I broke down. Something about Shiva will always bring me to tears of bliss and release.
I was exhausted and trying not to think about how lost I was. I mean, how was I gonna find my way back from where I was? Was I going to a hotel, or just turning back and going home? Could I have really counted on Ganesh to guide me back the same way he guided me there? Not likely, but along came my personal hero, Ram. Yep, as in Ramayana. A young man named Ram befriended me immediately, and he took care of me, going so far as leading me out of the Temple and to a hotel, AND going into the hotel with me to make sure I had a room before he drove off! God I LOVE Indians!
But before Ram even got me to my car, we sat in his and he told me his life story, and it reads like an Indian Fairy Tale, or perhaps more accurately, like a humble bit of Indian Mythology.
NEXT (Part 2, Friday Episode Two): The Story Of Ram