Hi again! I am traveling around the US and writing about it, and there seems to be no end in sight.
US Tour Day 19: Part 1: Las Cruces, New Mexico—Missiles
Ageism. What a stupid thing it is. Ray Spears once told me, "If you meet someone who is brilliant and has something great to say and they're three years old, then talk with them. Say something brilliant back. The same goes if their ninety or anywhere between."
I already knew this. I had been fortunate that others had always given me respect based on the quality of my character, rather than judging me by the years I had walked the earth. And, like a cycle of abuse, I treated other people the same way I was treated.
So, when I met Tollef Biggs, I didn't hesitate for a second before diving headfirst into a barrel of exciting moments with him. He was sixteen and living in Sebastopol, a sort of hippy rural town a few hours north of San Francisco. I was 21. He thought he was normal kid. I knew he was wrong. I don't think he ever considered that he must have been a fireball of a spirit to compel me to drive two hours every Friday to come and spend the weekend in his presence.
Exciting and creative, mind like some futuristic contraption with gears and wheels and microchips processing at comical speeds, I knew I had stumbled upon the rarest of genius. And, when you find a gem like this—an oracle, almost—you spend as much time in its presence, because it may disappear at any moment. You have to seize every second by the tail and hold on and go for it and drink out each last drop.
And that is just what we did together. We had more fun that I thought there actually was in the universe. We stoked each other's fires, encouraging one another to do crazy and creative things we might not have done alone. Iron sharpened iron.
Tollef Biggs and I don't hang out like we used to. Our old relationship passed away, and a new one gestates and grows as I write these pregnant words. But, in my daily life there are countless moments which I could not have appreciated as deeply if it were not for the fantastic algorithms our minds have processed together.
I had one on the way to White Sands National Monument, outside Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Brandi and Jenaca and I were driving way too fast down the freeway when we saw a sign for a missile museum just off the road. What traveler could pass up a missile museum in the desert?
We parked our car and showed identification to the US Army guard and then walked up onto a graded plateau where our government had parked a battery of defunct missiles.
There I stood in the desert, surrounded by silence and swallowed by sky and swimming in god's country. And before me stood some of the greatest creations of humankind, towering rockets of destruction. White, deadly fingers crowded the desert sand, intently pointing to the heavens.
These slender cylinders and cones were the fashion models of the fastest new fashions of human technology. But, who can ignore their ancient heritage? These beautiful, stark wolves–in–sheep–clothing don't fool me. I know their family, their older, less destructive relatives. Humankind, don't forget your roots. Oh rockets, do you remember your distant and great–grandparents, the good and beautiful and benign old Chinese ones, the fireworks and shooting stars that scared away bad spirits and made children smile and ushered in the new years?
Oh, rockets. How you have changed. But, I am honored to stand among you anyway. I'm not old enough to have lived during the time when your ancient ancestors fought the spirits in the sky and emperors lived in jade palaces and each dynasty spread out to the horizon of time like only the desert sky does now. Everything has changed so much since then.
The new rockets are instruments of death and not life, celebrating commodity and fear, spreading pieces of children across the landscape rather than spreading smiles across the faces of excited and startled, laughing boys and girls at feasts and festivals.
But, the same longing to create and change the world runs like blood in the veins of us humans. And we still make rockets, as we still long to drink in the sky and fly like the white angels. We haven't figured it out yet, so we send these missiles as ambassadors of our will—good and bad will.
I wished Tollef was there to see this place with me. I knew that as much as I appreciated the juxtaposition of nature's glory and mankind's ever–failing yet never–ceasing toil for glory, I could never have appreciated it as much as Tollef would have.
He would have stretched out his arms and looked to the sky and imagined the end of the world. There would be a great dance and all the rockets would be there together, dressed in white. He would be dressed in white, too. And he would dance with some beautiful angel and kiss and fall into her arms and into her lips as they ushered in the end of the world, drowning in a sea of fire and love and forever.
So I appreciated the moment for him, and I spread my arms out, too, and I felt so fortunate to walk among the missiles, all pointing to the higher place that we all wish we were in every day. Tollef stood a thousand miles away in San Francisco, surrounded by buildings that reached up to that higher place, too, people rushing through crowded streets like blood in the veins of an amphetamine addict.
When someone is not there with you, you have to appreciate the moment for them, an ambassador of their will, as if that moment were crafted for them and only accidentally had it been sent to you. And, that moment was for Tollef Biggs.
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