One fine evening, in the hallowed, but crusty halls of El Tropico Night Club (The famous East L.A. haunt that specialized in hookers, transvestites, cocaine, and ghosts. "Broken Hearts & Broken Noses")two of my favorite patrons strolled in. One was a retired cop that worked security and had his own mechanics' shop (from his garage), the other was a Cab Driver. They were always quite jovial and had a great knack for telling stories and chiming in with each other. This particular time Jorge, our Cab Driver, walked looking like he had seen death itself. Angel, our retired cop, had his arm around him and looked like he could barely contain his smile. They sat at the Bar:
Me - Hey Man, que traes?
Jorge - Nuthin Man. How you been?
(Turning to Angel)
Me - Sup with your boy? Looks like su vieja se lo madreo!
Angel - Nah Bro. It's better than that! (Laughs)
I pop open a couple of beers (the usual) as they settle in
Jorge - (staring at the bottle) I can't fucken believe it.
Angel - (to me) You see, Jorge here is suffering from what us cops call "shock"; A near death experience; you know, "shaking hands with Jesus"
Me - (to Jorge) Not Jesus, my cousin, but the Man upstairs?
Angel - The one and only! (pats Jorge in the back) you'll make it through this homey.
Jorge - It wasn't my fault...
Me - Relax Man... What Happened?
Angel - (holding back a smile) ...well I don't know about that...
Jorge - (To Angel) Cmon! I just did the usual. (turns to me) I was doing my rounds; you know, hitting all the bars and clubs looking for fares. Its easy money to take a some drunks home. And sometimes I pick some hot Mamacitas!
Angel - (Laughs) ...right...
Jorge - Hey Man! I'm telling you I was just following the game plan! I picked up this old lady, over at Luminarias. She was sloshed! I figured: easy money. I'll take her home the long way, listen to some tunes, and ask her for a nice tip. (Takes a swig of beer) ...Damn...
Angel - Tell em what she said first.
Jorge - This old lady sits down in the back, and before I can ask where to she says: "All Men are Idiots"
Angel - "Bola de pendejos!"
Jorge - Yeah, so I get her address and we're on our way. I tell her "you shouldn't be so hard on us, some of us out there our good catches..."
(Jorge takes a sip)
Jorge - She starts sighing.
Angel - ya vez las novelas...
Jorge - She says: "Hay Mijo... if you only knew... just what I've gone through..."
Me - ...and she starts crying...
Angel - ...I'm tellin you...
Jorge - Yes! So now I've this drunk old lady just bawling in the back. And I'm trying to calm her down.
Me - Of course you are! Damsel in distress...
Angel - More like Gramsel!
Jorge - Anyway, I'm saying stupid shit like "Oh, it's gona be alright" and "maybe you're better off without him"
Angel - Bad Idea...
Jorge - She cries even louder when I said that! "How could you say that to me?!" she says.
Angel - Real bad...
Jorge - So now I'm apologizing! I'm like "Senora I didn't mean it." and "I'm sorry." and all that.
Me - Ah, my favorite line with my Ladies: "I'm sorry..."
(Me, Jorge, and Angel together) "...it was all my fault"
Angel - Wait, it gets better. Go on bro.
Jorge - I don't know how I got into this mess, but we go back and forth all the way through. Till finally, I'm at her house.
(Angel is again holding back a smile)
Jorge - I tell her the fare and she says: "Ok, young man. Pay yourself." I looked in my rear view, figured maybe she was gona hand me her purse, I don't know. Oh, man... She's leaning back on the seat. I'm like "What?" and she starts pulling up her skirt! "I said, Pay Yourself! Be a Man. get back here, and pay yourself!"
Angel - Yeah! Get to it Son! (Laughing)
Jorge - I said "Ma'am I'm sorry, but you've had to much to drink. I just need my fare and I'll be on my way.
She says: "What are you? some kind of faggot?!"
... she pulled up her skirt...
(Me and Angel) - ...oh man...
Jorge - "Maricon!" she says. I had to get out of the car and open her door. She wouldn't leave! Just kept saying it: "Maricon! Maricon!"
Jorge stoped and just stared at his beer bottle for a while. Angel and I stared at each other with ear to ear smiles till finally we both broke into guffaws. Angel patted Jorge in the back a few more times. Jorge smiled and shook his head.
Me - Guess you could have told her the usual again...
(Jorge, Angel, and Me) I'M SORRY. IT WAS ALL MY FAULT!
Disconcerting dynamic of our current times: We've been accustomed to blurb like living. Where our attention is only capable of accepting seconds worth of clips. All popular media is designed around this frame. Whether its news, music, TV, or any other medium, it is all compressed around a tight, minimal attention style.
Perhaps our need for streamlining and efficacy has gotten the best of us. As we've seemed to embed into our day to day an inability to focus, pay attention, remain silent. We are educating ourselves into natural states of attention deficit!
It was said Bodhidharma spent 9 years in a cave, meditating, listening to the ants scream.
Giving himself the time
and yet we bombard ourselves with enough static and noise to fill a lifetime of unfulfillment. We create urgency and hurry that drive us deeper into urgency and hurry that drive us deeper into...
Note how we actively seek out continual distractions. Note how quickly we end one task and look for another to fill the space. Note how we cannot simply walk and contemplate without dialing a friend or playing a tune. Have you ever seen anyone simply standing on the street thinking? I mean one who wasn’t homeless. It is not an easy thing to be solely with oneself, yet it is a glorious experience and an exercise in conversation with your soul. The silence may seem like a threatening place, but it is from where you spring forth. You need to go to the point of discomfort, delve into it and find there your revelation; Because it is in the engagement with your shadow, your silent self, that your nature, purpose, and actions can be revealed. Besides, staring at the sun will make you blind. Next time, notice how shadows bring out the beauty and nuance of an object.
Some of us happen to be quite uncomfortable with silence. Silence as reminder of our impending death; as time wasted in a “go get em’” world. If you’re not busy you must be doing something wrong. If the phone doesn’t ring you’re a loser. If you don’t have any emails this morning, other than spam, you don’t have a life. We long for constant validation and wallow in the implications of its repression. Hence silence is proof of failure. Inaction is an example of weakness. Not having validation is a clear sign that we are both unworthy and unwanted.
Let's re-evaluate the implications of silence: Embrace the silence that comes to you; better yet, actively look for moments of nothingness. Pure untouched emptiness. We have super saturated our lives with the constant noise, static, gibberish of the everyday in order to avoid the obvious. Have you noticed how quickly you fill your life with things “to do” from the moment you awake till the moment you sleep? Its no wonder you feel the overwhelming anxiety of not having “enough hours in the day”, when in reality, you are merely filling the voids in your life in order to avoid your responsibilities to yourself.
Pay attention. Its right there in front of you. You may be exhilarated to know that its coming. That its here. But do not confuse that with fear. Know that your task is to polish the mirror of your soul so that you may know, live and understand. And that, my friend is nothing to be afraid of, but rather, it is something to revere. It is the thing you have been waiting for.