I was standing in Chaguanas staring at a Muslim vendor pack up her things for the night. The sound of a car horn brought me back to the minding of my own business. My ride was ready. I had called a taxi driver to drop me home and he had requested 15 minutes to arrive on site. A little before the horn sounded off he had called asking if I had already gotten a taxi. No, I’m standing here waiting for you. As I settled into my seat he said he called because he didn’t see me standing when he initially passed by, and when I said I was right there waiting he wondered how he could have missed all the beauty of me. Well I don’t know. And right then I told him: I’ve decided that I like you. Excuse me? I said I like you and that is why I called you. You are a pleasant company and I don’t have to remind you where I live. O-kay, he drawled. But my liking you doesn’t mean I’ll run off and have a relationship with you, so don’t flirt with me. Okay? Yes ma’am!
Conversation arose, but I was counting my blessings in my mind. The client I had gone to see had called shortly after I moved to the new location and I advised that I would no longer be able to work with him due to the new distance between us and the cost to bridge the gap. There were two subsequent calls asking if I had figured out how he could continue to receive his massages. I had not. On his next visit to Trinidad he advised me to hire a taxi to shuttle me back and forth and he would pay the driver. He emphatically said that he did not want a new Therapist or a new experience, as I had suggested he pursue. It is my desire to be the best Therapist I can be to my clients, but I can’t always tell whether I’m perceived that way. Not that it should matter, but it’s like there is a subtle conceit underlying the desire. Now I have a client who has voluntarily increased my fee and pays for a driver too, affording me a certain kind of validation. I can feel my chest rising from the affluence that I’m to acquire starting with him. May the other similar clients hasten their proposals. It must be things like these that keep the Gods busy. I heard they are perpetually exhausted raising up the humble and bringing down the mighty…the same people on different days.
On my way to work at another location the taxi driver inquired whether my necklace was made of gold and warned that I needed to be careful. I told him it was okay. He said it wasn’t okay and that he desires to kill all robbers as jail is not enough for them because they are more presumptuous than ever these days. He said one morning right outside his gate a couple was accosted by a bandit brandishing a weapon. He witnessed their fumbling eagerness to hand over the valuables from their necks, wrists, and bags. As they busied themselves with the contents of bags, the bandit’s hand was between the woman’s legs up her skirt presumably eagerly fumbling. He said that’s what he meant about them being more presumptuous, it’s like they want to hurt you in as many ways possible, so that right in front of the man this was being done to his wife and he dared not oppose the action. Maybe the driver is an empath, or he’s the guy whose wife was robbed and fondled.
Having arrived at work without being robbed, or fondled, I sat in the common area doing foot massages for the ladies. Mary asked another lady if she could help her get to bed. The lady told her she has to ask the ladies in blue, they are the Nurses. Pointing her finger at the lady, Mary declared all manner of hurtful things, then rounded it off by telling her that God will make her pay for not taking her to bed. By the time I got to her she was slumped over in the chair sleeping. I touched her and asked if I could massage her legs. She asked why would I want to do that. I said I think she might like the feel of it. She said No. Okay. In the moment I began moving away she said Yes. Okay. As I worked with her she ranted about the abuse she has to endure. I know they won’t allow her to stay in bed all day. Getting her up and walking her out to the living room was all under the umbrella of abuse. To distract her from the abuse talk I asked how was the pressure of the massage. Who gave you those hands, God? You strong, you could kill ten men together! I told her I will use less pressure. She laughed and said she was making light of the moment. Having just heard her desires towards the other lady I didn’t imagine her a person of humour. One week after she had no clue of my having worked with her or the things she had said. Alzheimer’s must be salvation. So I engaged her as she engaged me, like we never met before.
Across the room another lady was entertaining the other two who sat on the sofa with her. I indicated that I would be coming over to them next. After washing my hands I did. The chatty lady involuntarily rehashed her story. We all listened. She strongly desired to leave early as she had to go home to prepare dinner, but the Nurses kept saying she can’t go outside. She leaned forward and whispered that the family members she had to cook for worked at the Court. My eyes widened and I nodded. This was privileged information she was sharing with me and having shown that I understood she patted me on the leg and leaned back in the chair saying: you’re a smart girl. Then she burst out laughing before continuing about the family. They worked all day and would need something proper to eat when they get home in the evening, and since she loves to take care of people she didn’t mind having hot food ready for them. She also takes care of Jenny. Jenny is beautiful and very very loving. And when she calls Jenny by her name, Jenny would look at her with love in her eyes and say: Maa! And she would hug Jenny and kiss her. She’s a darling, a darling I tell you. I then had to make some effort to hide my surprise when she said on her way home she has to cut fresh grass for Jenny.
Thankfully, Geriatrics have no monopoly on queer, so I get entertainment from various sources. A lady came to see me who recently had a tummy tuck. As we spoke of her expectation of the massage treatment she indicated that she wanted me to do something about her vagina. Oh! Quite a desire. She removed her clothing to show me, advising that her vagina looked like a chicken. I could see that the vulva, not vagina, was swollen. She poked at it and asked repeatedly if it didn’t look like a baby chicken. I told her if she advertised it she might find persons very interested in having her with a baby chicken, then I tried for the more sane conversation as to why that area was holding fluids. When she returned the next day she was excited to report that the drainage worked. The chicken shrunk, even her mother had remarked about it. Some time before that a male client had asked that I assess him for the presence of evil spirits. What? He wanted the massage, but desired I do it with the awareness to detect whether or not his aura was clear. I survived the session. I told the massage was done and he sat up eagerly watching me, waiting for a report. I told him I honestly felt nothing unusual or negative during the session. He seemed disappointed and asked if I was sure. Yes, I’m sure. If there’s anything I didn’t feel it. His face lit up with a big smile and he hugged me tightly. Said he really appreciated that. He had had some runnings with evil spirits and had gone to the relevant spiritual authority for deliverance. But he wasn’t sure he was all cleared and was glad that I confirmed that he was.
A few days after visiting the Geriatric Home I went out on another job. This taxi driver was polite, but did not concern himself with my jewelry. All was well except for a child sitting between a lady and I in the back seat. Her mother sat at the front. The girl had repeatedly requested the door seat. Her mother won’t allow. So she sat in the middle, legs wide apart as if in protest against us at the back. She got out her box of KFC and ate ravenously then almost promptly fell asleep. In so doing she began leaning towards me. Well, there was enough of her bracing on me, I didn’t need her head too. I gently shifted and her head moved to the other side, the weight of it eventually landed on the woman’s arm. Hmmm. A sleeping head is a heavy head. A phone rang. The driver reached for his and answered. His disposition changed. From what we could hear, his spouse had lost her bank card due to some involvement with another man. Between them it was decided how they will proceed with the matter, essentially leaving the guy out of the picture. Now she was telling him that she met with the man and she came to an understanding and will return it under certain conditions. The taxi driver tripped. He kept asking what she met the man for. He was on the road hustling and she was running around with man. Whatever her reasons were, that’s what he summed it up as. The lady at the front told him where she was stopping. He tripped a little more; shouting at her for interrupting his conversation. She shouted back. And in short order the car stopped on the highway and the sleeping child was roused to get out, given that her mother was being put out for her insolence.
An agreement is an agreement. A man desires his woman’s trust. But women have always had ways of handling their problems, and their men are then forced to handle them, which for some reason doesn’t mean simply leaving the woman. Not so long ago two women were telling a story of their desire to see their neighbour’s guest. Three ladies and one man lived in a roomed-out apartment. It is opined that the man does not actually live there. He ‘cuts weed’ for sale and entertains ‘prostitutes’ there. Due to the nature of his use of the place he is seldom seen during the day. On the night in question chilling screams were coming from his room, and recognizing it to be the voice of a woman in severe pain, they became too disturbed to stay in their rooms. Just like the taxi driver felt it for the man whose wife was assaulted, these women had an inner knowing of what this woman was experiencing. One stepped into the corridor waiting for opportunity… The other stepped out of her room to find she was not alone. Did they really desire to see the woman, or was it to know why she was subjecting herself to pain, or to know whether what they perceived as pain was actually pleasurable, or to reprimand the man for his disrespect of women? Moments later the door opened and a young woman with the prettiest face emerged. They watched her crawl to the bathroom and felt convinced that he had performed anal sex on her…without KY. He then emerged and they asked with some authority what he had done to the girl. He nonchalantly indicated that she was one of his child-mothers and he had to discipline her because she was running around behind his back.
I read somewhere that desire is an outer cry for name, fame, power and material prosperity. With desire we try to bind others, only to discover that we ourselves are already bound. Hurting people, hurt people. Bound people, bind people. This is what desire does. Yet we justify it with legality, investments, self-imposed commitments, etc. We need to hold onto someone, but having done so and felt incompleteness of the hold, we then devise reasons why they should hold onto us too. And in our satisfaction of holding and being held we decide it is love we’re feeling, this thing that flows from the forced connection. Then we punish the channel of love for the slightest indication that it is attempting to relinquish its hold. We’re asked to go within, to indulge in an inner cry…for when we cry for peace, light, bliss and other divine things, this is called aspiration. Yes, when we do not care for things that bind us, we have aspiration. When we aspire, we come to realize that we have to free ourselves and we have to free others. Do we want to, and if we do, for how long? Loneliness sets in and misery starts reaching out for company. Soon enough aspiration becomes a strange quicksand having initially been a perfect piece of moral high ground we stepped onto and declared things…forever and always, till death do us part, etc. But now the moral height makes us dizzy and we can’t stay up there long enough to keep our declarations.
It is, or should be, virtuous to aspire because in the moment we convince ourselves that that which we do or are about to do is for the better of ourselves, our neighbor, or the world at large. Then we smile and ask ourselves: Is it, really? For if it is a virtue, the duality of this realm dictates that we be aware that it being such also means we already know that it is entwined with lingering illusions. So while desire gets to be seen in a twisted light, aspiration is not free of hurdles, and the voices that tell us we have to fight off these obstacles to have a proper grip of the virtue are not loud so we don’t always hear them. We can recount the many times we tried to share, or rather impose our visions on another person and they couldn’t see it. Or the times we enthusiastically set out to build paradise and failed. Aspirations make us demand from others understanding which they cannot give, and in our frustration we find the world unsatisfactory and we declare war against it. We reject society. Having found it full of many things that are beneath us, how can we endorse it? We curse it in our hearts. Behind the flimsy coating of our altruism we are sinking into criticism, condemnation, and subtle destructiveness. A strange quicksand indeed. Then we get to a point where we pause long enough to look back, and we notice that many aspiring souls were antisocial. They found it difficult to understand the world they were trying to help. How could we pray and wait for centuries for the Christ, then set about praying and waiting for opportunity to kill Him when He arrives?
It would be helpful to consider that no matter how old or accomplished a person is, we are generally working with children, not adults. On the one side, these children cannot know more than they do. On the other side, we need to start building our dreams on realities, on things as they are. In bringing the two sides together we will make slow and gentle steps, forward. And as we continue together in this wise walk, we will see the error of our ways in that time passed when we felt that knowing it all and hastening the world to follow us led to nothing. My client desired to have his massage sessions continued as normal, and though my situation disallowed it, he injected extra resources to bind me to his desire. And I, desiring that kind of validation, am holding him to continuous injection to keep the bind between us. Maybe this has transcended desire and is now aspiration geared at my abilities and his, which makes it realistic on both sides. Sometimes the aspiration is too great so that we can’t live up to it ourselves and feel hurt. I could have gone over at the same price telling myself he’s a long-standing client who is worth it, but somewhere on the drive to or from there will be moments of self-ridicule over the waste of my valuable time, etc. Like children playing a game, I took one step by notifying him I’m out of his jurisdiction. He needed time to process that. Then he took one step, proposing that should my willingness to work with him match his willingness to have me work with him he would pay for a chauffeur and increase my fee. I took another step, I consented and showed up for work. He took another step, handing over the agreed amount. This is our new normal. Our journey continues, made up entirely of single steps that invoked another virtue…patience. We each had to bear the wait during the time it took for the other to decide and act.
We do not have to try to be ourselves, and we do not have to forces others to be themselves. Being ourselves is natural to us as the unfurling of a flower, it is called effortless effort. Desires of wanting what we want and wanting people to be what we want them to be to us impose rules and regulations to force the other person into a state of grace, our grace, by inhibiting and limiting them. This kind of effort is evidence of inconsistency, that you are not being yourself or allowing another to be theirs. The child-mother did not observe the ‘do nots’ of that relationship and found herself on the receiving end of brute force. Karmic ties and all manner of cute things can be considered as contributing factors, but from one perspective she needs to extricate herself from that situation because if being herself periodically invokes his wrath, then she is actually enabling him to become neurotic. The professionals tell us that psychosis and neurosis aren’t really different. There are many neurotic spouses who, if formally diagnosed, will still deny it. The psychotic person believes one and one equals three. The neurotic person knows one and one equals two, but has a strong feeling it is really three. So that even if she stopped ‘running around’ behind his back as at the last punishment he dished out, and even if he sees evidence of her change, his brain will continue to find cues to the contrary and he will continue to feel obligated to impose penalty, while she screams again and again: it is not so.
But we’re not her…them. We’re cool folk having our Baby Jesus time, Hanukkah time, Kwanzaa time, or lack of them. Maybe we’re creating our New Year’s resolutions list. Whatever we’re doing in these moments let’s look at what we are desiring of ourselves and those around us in order to make these moments as significant as we’ve come to feel they should be. May we come to understand the divine energy within ourselves that causes us to exist and grow…to transmute our outer nature. With this realization we will cease to impede the natural flow of ourselves and others for we will see that when a man puts his inner life in order, the result is a happier and better physical existence. Maybe we keep putting the cart before the horse and flogging dead horses because we have come so far outside ourselves that we don’t see which is the way back in and are simply doing something out here, anything to keep from losing our minds. I heard a passenger say: together we perspire, together we thieve. Sounds a lot like we’re having a good sweat from the adrenaline rush of thieving just to stay the boredom, to fill the void. There remains scope for us to aspire together…to be free to be. We’re in that timeframe that allows for courage to look back and to look forward. Let’s bravely march forward mounting that platform, that moral high ground, with palm to our chest declaring: Together We Aspire, Together We Achieve. Let’s feel the realization of our statement, then try to stay up there for as long as possible.