Consistency parenting. Difficult to put into practice. Not for my wife. She’s a machine.
Remember my love that only through you have I been allowed to feel anything at all. You are my teacher, my gateway. Before you I was nothing but a numb worm of displaced movements.
When it comes to discipline, we refuse physical punishment. It simply does not work. It only made me despise my father. He let out his misery on my backside. Called it tough love. Like when he roughed up mom. In fact, my entire childhood can be summed up in one image: my father sticking his fist in his mouth and biting it. Have you ever seen such a man eating his fist in wild rage?
I accepted my wife’s suggestion that we get this box that monitors family behavior through an app installed on our phones. It records all of our verbal interactions and an algorithm processes them so that when there is a communication breakdown between family members, it assists in sorting out a resolution. It’ll provide you with specific examples of what you have said as evidence to consider in relation to whatever the problem might be.
Remember it was you who made me go bankrupt so that I could know again the sweet taste of the crumbs you left for me.
We take our kid to an art gallery with my wife’s hope that this will develop his artistic side. While I’m trying to figure out some contorted formation, my kid tugs at my shirt and tells me he needs something. I tell him not now. Mom is busy talking with the front desk. Then the piss sprays out of his shorts. He’s pissing all over the floor. I stare at the puddle. We apologize and offer to help clean up but it’s better that we just go.
On the ride home, I remember the time I had to hold it. Don’t disturb dad, at all costs. Eventually, I lost control and pissed all over the floor in the bookstore. He yanked me by the arm and spanked me outside the store in front of an audience. I look in the rearview mirror and see my son sobbing and nobody even punished him.
Only when you took everything away could I understand the abundance of your slightest gestures that meant little or nothing to you and everything to me.
At home, we sit him down after cleaning him up and I blurt out something I would never say in my right mind. I call him “a moron” for not telling us that he needed to go to the bathroom. At this moment, the box lights up. It proceeds to replay the word “moron” over and over in various contexts. Apparently I use the word a lot more than I’m aware of. At first, I tell my wife that the box might be malfunctioning. Stuck on repeat.
Now it feels like I’m on trial for my overuse of one word. She’s looking right through me. My kid is looking right through me the way I used to look through my dad. In this instant, the box seems useless and unfair. I’m a good person. So what if there’s one word that helps me release some tension. I don’t mean to be hurtful. I’m attacking stupidity itself. Not actual morons. My wife asks how that’s working out for me.
It was you who showed me how to pass through the self-inflicted bonfire in order to see the glory in begging for your mercy.
She gives me a look that tells me we will be talking about this later. With my class starting soon, I have to leave anyways. I drive to school with an awful aftertaste of misfired parenting. It’s like fucking up at sex. It doesn’t mean I’m forever bad at it. But that’s how it feels. And now I’m stuck with the awkward kink until I make it right. But its exhausting to always be stuck in a state of “trying to make it right.” My dad never did.
“Be open to the randomness of life” is the last thing I hear before the nightly jackhammering commences outside our classroom. The administration’s apology for a deadline to erect another vanity building really told us to just deal with it. The master continues teaching even though we cannot hear another word. Nothing breaks the master’s concentration. The other students nod along with the teachings. Their concentration isn’t breaking either. Only mine. Jackhammered at home. Jackhammered at work. At school.
The others take out a red Xerox from yesterday. It’s the kind of thing that goes out of your head as soon as class ended the last time, but upon seeing it, it’s as if no time passed at all. As if everything that happened between then and now is forgotten instead of it. I dig into my bag but cannot locate the crappy 50 cent folder containing the worksheet. They pull out their notebooks. I do the same. I gaze onto my neighbor’s sheet and see the direction: write a letter to your mom from the perspective of her deceased cat. What kind of moronic direction is that?
The master walks around the desks as we write. The jackhammering stops. He asks us to hand it in. He reads the first one from the stack aloud: “Dear mom, I would’ve eaten you if I could. For no reason. This is my only regret.” Without skipping a beat, the master replies, “Nothing is ever eliminated, only substituted. Remember that.” As I try to figure out what he means by that comment he reads through a few others until he gets to mine. The fear that I might have unknowingly violated the substitution rule pesters me into a dismal expectation.
“Dear mom, thank you for allowing me passage through the many roles of my corporeal existence. You had many thoughts about my thoughts and that helped me a lot with the challenge of communication. But now that I see through the illusion of being alive, I am happy to put it all to rest. Mourn me not for the same fate awaits you.”
The master comments, “never forget that only the virgin plays the whore and the whore the virgin.”
I belt out at the cryptic game he’s playing, “what does that mean?”
“This was a very rigid and artificial surface. Only a whore who actually believes in her virginity could write such a thing.”
What is he getting at? What kind of teaching method is this?
“So it’s better to always err on the side of playing the whore as a virgin?”
“Neither are better or worse,” and the master reads the next one before I can pester him anymore, “Mom, don’t forget we’re running low on milk. By the way, you really should apply for that grant.”
We can see that the master approves of this one so others approve too.
Only you my love broke the brittle images I used to cling to.
The master tells us he’ll read the rest later and asks us to take out our weapons and place them atop our desks as he directs us again on how to hunt without ever getting to hunt. We have spoken so much about it that I feel like another word only takes away from my urge to do it. I can feel the master’s awareness of my impatience. I try to hold still. Focus on his words as if he were only talking to me.
“Frame. Track. Pierce. This is the way of the hunt. You must select a target. Crop in as close as you can with your mind’s eye. The target will stand alone. The clearer you frame it, the better you will feel when you obtain it. Simplify the target within. Bring it back to the basics. Something obvious is something undeniable. Something you not only want but need. Tie that down. If you fail to tie down the target within, all hell can break loose. Tracking the target is another matter altogether. Tracking requires patience. To be patient while tracking requires the opposite reaction common to the inexperienced. Excitement is tension. To get excited is to decrease the chances of obtaining the target. It is counter-intuitive to relax while hunting (or being hunted for that matter), but it is essential. The nature of any hunt favors the hunter who cannot care. Relax into the target. Obtain it with ease. Easing into the target means easing into a frame of mind. They are one and the same. Hunting is the opposite of grabbing for it. Instead, open your hands and receive it. Find the way for it to land in the palm of your hand. Piercing the target is another matter still. To pierce the target means to be precise in the execution. Just hitting the target isn’t good enough. It renders many messy injuries and fewer captures. Remember the target whenever the target must be known well beforehand. The target within must be a forgone conclusion. To pierce the target is to strike the bullseye in the bullseye. Minimal suffering. To split it precisely down the middle. To cut the center even and wide open for maximum bounty. To get exactly what you want through mercy. Always be merciful. The best hunters know this. But the greatest hunters know something else still. The greatest know how to frame, track, and pierce without ever hunting at all. They have already un-pierced all targets. Aiming and tracking become irrelevant because necessity itself is the target and everything is as it already is, fore-pierced. From this perspective, the un-hunting hunter expends the least amount of energy on the most valuable targets. These are the targets that inferior hunters could not even see for they know not what to truly target within. They only target without. And even when they think they target within, they still target without.”
I raise my hand and he reluctantly nods in my direction, “Perhaps I’m already the best hunter because I cannot find a target worth pursuing. I was placed in this class, Enlightenment 303, because the others were full. I never wanted Enlightenment to begin with.”
“Do not confuse aimlessness with relaxed purpose. One is low and the other high.”
“But that’s what I’m saying. I think I’m high.”
“Only the low think they’re high and confuse edge for mere attitude. That’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Can somebody help him by reciting last term’s lesson on forgetting the kill?”
Another student stands up, looks at me like I’m some kind of moron, and delivers the lesson as if he’s tossing the master’s salad, “Forget the kill. Whatever you do do not think of the kill. It isn’t advisable to respect the kill since that would involve thinking of it. That would make it harder to forget. The most effective killing stems from forgetfulness. Whatever is killed, changes form. It must be made into an appearance that will not resemble the kill. Focus on the purpose rather than the kill. This keeps the eye on the ball and forgets the kill which isn’t as important as the purpose. Reasons are most important of all. Principles can erase any number of kills from memory. This is why people stick to principles and worship reason. They ensure that the kill is forgotten. The practice of sacrifice has been streamlined to this end. The rites have fallen by the wayside for good reason. Honoring the sacrifice makes the kill memorable. That is why it must be done without rites. The sacrificed are to be forgotten. This increases efficiency. Productivity keeps the dream alive.”
At this point, I have to barge in, “in other words, do not respect the kill, respect only the dream necessitating the kill?”
“Yes,” says the master and a final wave of affirmation tingles over me, “forget the kill that made the habit possible. And only then, if we dream big enough will the minds sacrificed produce the new reality we wish for without the obstacle of a reality we once thought was.”
Whatever that means. As I lose interest in figuring this convoluted stuff out, I remember the talk waiting for me at home.
Never did I learn from anyone else the value of decay. How you showed me the way to detach from family and friends. To see the illusions plain. To parse the intentions from the pretensions.
I notice my guitar in the back seat. I forgot that it’s jam night with some guys from work. Just what the doctor ordered. I’ll do the talk with wifey tomorrow and everything will be fine. I’ll call myself a moron. Whatever it takes.
Sweet love you left me to cook in my juices.
At band practice, there’s this new guy and he’s in a heated discussion with the band about how all sounds have no real essence. His name is Dale and he says there is no such thing as a natural sound. I unzip the case. Pull out my acoustic guitar. Consider un-targeting him and forgetting the kill. The guys tell me there’s no jam tonight and say that I’ve got to hear Dale play this new instrument. Disappointed, I lean my guitar in a corner of the garage.
Dale pulls out what looks like dental floss. The guys tell me “to check this out.” He takes the floss and puts it in his teeth, as one would. He flips open his laptop and plugs it into our PA system. And this fucking guy starts flossing music with sounds I’ve never heard before. Hell, nothing can describe it. It’s mind blowing. Like seeing a video game for the first time. Or pussy. Waves of sound wash over us. But the sight of Dale flossing his chompers at us as he wiggles his hips looks fucking ridiculous.
Dale stops and asks me what my problem is. I point out that performance-wise this new instrument will never be something a drunk audience won’t rip to shreds. He says that all new inventions are met with skepticism but that I should be rest assured that all other instruments are on the way out. Limited. Old hat. That’s what he said. Guitar is dead. Clearly, Dale is a moron.
It was you my sweet. You showered me with your kaleidoscopic phantasmagoric solar anus and showed me how to dance in its light.
Instead of fighting, I pivot and ask how it works. He explains something that goes over my head and tells me to try it. I go in front of the camera and stick my tongue out at it. It makes a horrendous sound. The guys tell me to grow up. I floss a little and do some ironic dancing. They fail to find the humor in it.
On the drive home, I wonder what the hell this world is coming to. Parental boxes. Hunting / enlightenment classes. Dental floss instruments. Nothing makes sense anymore. But did it ever? Maybe this was what ate at my father from the inside. Made him stuff his face with his fist.
My love you left me to cook in my juices until I fell off the bone. What was one became many.