IMPORTANT NEW NOTES FROM JUSTIN:
US Tour Day 103, Part 3: Destroying Rhetoric, Life's Applause
San Francisco. Every bit of it is home to me now. There are so many things about it that I don't like. There are so many things about it that I don't appreciate or take full advantage of. But, now that I've spent these months away—tasting what the rest of the nation has to offer—I realize that it is my home, in spite of all this. I love it and miss it.
After eating dim sum with Andie we walked around Chinatown before heading back to her borrowed car. I sat on the warm, leather seats of a car that cost more than every car I've ever own combined. Then again, I've never owned a car that I paid more than $3000 for. And, the total purchasing price for every car I've owned doesn't even scrape $10,000. But, still. It feels luxurious to sit in the seats of a fine vehicle, since it's such a departure from how I travel every day.
I flipped down the sun visor to check out what sort of lights this fancy automobile had around the vanity mirror. (Expensive cars always have lights around the vanity mirrors.) What I noticed wasn't the lights, though.
I noticed my face.
My face was covered with ornaments—so many metal rings and pointy glasses and funny, stripey hair. I could barely see the face underneath it all. I found myself unsure of what I actually looked like.
When had this happened? When had I piled all of these things onto my appearance?
As I looked at the face with all the rings and things I thought back to a moment in Austin with Kim's friend and spiritual teacher, Bob. I remembered something he'd asked me.
It was November. Kim had brought me to Bob's home in the hills overlooking Austin. Bob and I had shared only a few words. I wasn't sure what to make of him yet. I'd been in his house only a matter of minutes when he suddenly grabbed the slack in my shirt and pulled me close to him. His face inches from mine, he examined me. He asked roughly, "Why the fuck do you have all that, that," he waved a circle in the air with his hand, gesturing towards my face, "all that shit in your face?"
He left no time for me to answer before continuing. (I don't think he really wanted an answer right then.) He squinted his eyes and studied me the sort of way usually reserved for examining humans which had already stopped living.
"You know, if you took all that shit out of your face, you'd look..." He moved his face close to mine again, looking at me—looking through me. "You know, you'd look even weirder than you already do." His stoic look melted into a smile. He burst out laughing and embraced me.
His question has lingered with me since that grey November day. And the vanity mirror in the borrowed car screamed it out. Why do I have all of these things in, on, and around my face?
So many questions are asked rhetorically—without any interest in an answer. I seek to do away with this passive–aggressive form of communication. I want to replace it with a world where we seek meaning actively in all of our questioning. To do so we must destroy rhetoric.
So, I asked myself why?
I took inventory of the aftermarket additions to my appearance. Most everything was quite deliberate and had reasons to remain—I liked my glasses and needed them to see, I enjoyed having my nose rings and wanted to keep them, I wasn't sure about my hair, so maybe I'd change it soon. But the earrings, I had no answer for the earrings anymore. They were there because I put them there when I was thirteen years old and never took them out. I was letting that thirteen–year–old chubby boy with bad eighties hair and a jean jacket with a Metallica back patch make decisions about how my modern incarnation got presented to the world.
Who would let decisions made by a dusty and obsolete version of their self govern how they dealt with their self–image, family, love relationships, money, or spirituality? Amazingly enough, just about everybody does. And, the problem persists only because most people don't realize they're doing it! When we become aware of a behavior we're then able to evaluate its relevance in our life. We can then make a conscious choice rather than continue through life on archaic, self–imposed dogma.
So I took most of them out, right there in the car. I left only one in each ear and gave the others to Andie.
Hopefully I will be able to locate and assess the areas in my life in need of updating more quickly in the future. And I have hope that everyone I come in contact with will do the same. I think the key to doing this is rememdering to seek an honest answer with every question, rather than letting rhetoric's ways continue to calcify and clog the minds of the collective.
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