The Dyatlov Pass Incident has had my brain rattled for a long time. Someone please explain.
There is a stoic belief that we are all dogs tied to carts. Our leash is long enough to be able to make decisions about maneuvering with, around, and against the cart, but we are tethered nonetheless.
“When a dog is tied to a cart, if it wants to follow, it is pulled and follows, making its spontaneous act coincide with necessity. But if the dog does not follow, it will be compelled in any case. So it is with men too: even if they don’t want to, they will be compelled to follow what is destined.” - Zeno
Nothing lived can be coded as an accident when it’s happening is a surprise only to me.
This one has me a bit stuck. I don’t think I subscribe to the concept of grown-ups. It has been said of my generation and those slightly older, and slightly younger, that we are perpetually in our adolescence. I’m not buying that or buying into that as an excuse for my behavior, I am simply of the mind that becoming a grown up means one has stopped growing. Within that framework that moment has yet to come and I hope to God that it doesn’t.
Anything that involved inter-species communication would be really interesting to me. It is the height of arrogance to believe that non-human animals are not thinking nor communicating with each other. We mistake skill, talent, and presence for what we label as instinct. Similarly we mistake squawks, squeaks, and squeals as voicelessness and not an attempt to express dissatisfaction for whatever oppression humans are enacting upon non-humans to provoke these reactions. With that said, for the less empathetic, a device that could translate into the hearer’s language what is being expressed by the species vocalizing it would be rather useful. Were we to hear a pig, chicken, or cow say “no” in a human voice many things would change about what violent acts we are willing to commit against our fellow earthlings.
With power, I would anticipate a potentially deep change in personality and demeanor. To what extent and what level of power that I have would certainly influence how gradual or how extreme the change will come, but the cliche of power and corruption has often held true. That said, my power would be used to realize the ethics that govern my own choices, but instead of remaining internally as they are, they would be projected socially. This would include efforts to educate others about the regularity and depravity that exists within oppressive actions we impose upon animal-kind, our feathered, furred, and scaled fellow earthlings. It would include efforts to rehabilitate, retrain, and reintegrate folks that have enacted these oppressions regularly throughout their lives. This would aim to include those oppressings animals for economic subsistence (slaughterhouse workers, breeders), hobby (hunting and fishing), entertainment (zoos, circuses, and others in captivity), and those who are violent towards animals for violence sake.
I am very certain that moving to Chicago, then to Western Massachusetts, and ultimately to South Africa was the right choice to make. Despite this being a somewhat spur of the moment action and also being full of heartache leaving close friends and family, this was a right choice. Life-changing decisions, the kind that really laid the foundation for who I am and how I define my values, prompted my choice-making skills to mature. There were struggles of course and many challenges faced me throughout my time in all of these places, physical health and experiencing some of the deepest longing and loneliness that I have ever felt. Yet when I look back, as I often do with most things, I see only the rightness of the choices and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because of what I term as retroactive optimism, I am really struggling to think of an unfortunate day that lives up to the qualifier of “most.” Perhaps I am leaving much on the table, by not reflecting on my life enough to consider the great valleys that must certainly exist. I am of the belief that to consider most unfortunate and even most fortunate requires a firing up of the comparing mind that I am not ready to ignite. This has me thinking of the homeless monk. Kōdō Sawaki says that “you can’t even exchange a fart with another person.” In a less crude manner, I think about Mike Birbiglia making a point that if you want to trade your life for one aspect of another’s you absolutely would have to take the whole of their existence, because that is what led up to whatever small moment you want. Again, I have evaded a prompt, but I am 100% fine with that.
I felt a profound connection to color at one point. The memory that resonates most is when I was in my underground hip hop phase and was listening to a lot of Definitive Jux records releases. For some reason their production, the sample choices, the synthesizers, and the odd ways their djs manipulated the turntables, all really matched with the color featured on their album art. The standout in particular was EL-P’s Fantastic Damage. The oranges, yellows, and the purples had this borderline experience of synesthesia for me at the time and their hues were fully expressed in the sound. The resonance of this vivid memory cannot be tapped into more than ten years later, but at that time in my life color held meaning in an inexpressible way.
My old secret place was not all that secret growing up. It was just the corner of a corn field where I could see far and wide. There being no hills where I was raised, this slight incline at the corner of a neighborhood and a patch of farmland provided for the most expansive view that I could get within a short bike ride’s distance. This was a place of solace and one that I cherish for it’s simplicity and truthfully how very little it had to offer. It was just a modest view.
I always enjoyed spending time with my family at a lake or in a cabin. Staying at some of the nature preserves and parks in Wisconsin and northern Illinois were some of my fondest memories. These trips were often financed by my mom taking on extra kids to babysit in order for us to have something of a vacation. I remember the joy of being out in nature playing, but also the chance to play Sunset Riders at the arcade and watch cartoons that we didn’t have on our morning TV like Mega Man. There was swimming, rowboats, and hikes, as well as trips to the towns where we would rummage around secondhand shops looking for books of Garfield comics and cassettes. These trips punctuated my childhood as dots on my own personal timeline. I am so thankful for them.
Just going with the first thought that came to mind when reading this prompt takes me to the fall of 2003. I have to go back to when I had just graduated from high school. I dove into a two-year recording technology program that really was a major piling on of debt. It is here that I was introduced to loans and the looming feeling of debt hanging over my head. Thankfully, I have very few regrets in life, but this particular time period may narrowly classify as one of them. Had I waited a little more time to explore my options or taken a gap year, I wonder what alternate path my life would have gone down. I struggle to play out hypothetical scenarios though because I can ultimately look back and see more positives than negatives of this experience. Those years spent learning the ins and outs of software, various operating systems, and audio/video skills may not have led me to the comfortability I have with these tools today. In many ways, I am fortunate to have rose-colored glasses when looking back on my life.
I would make the world much safer for animals. This would be accomplished through education about the horrors and cruelty that animals face in both large-scale (factory farms) and small-scale (local, free range, etc.) agriculture. Animals raised for food experience immense suffering and live horrendous lives for a resulting product that we ultimately don’t even need, not that it was ours to take in the first place. The most important place to begin learning why we don’t make rational food choices is through the work of Dr. Melanie Joy and her introductory video The Secret Reason We Eat Meat. Aside from the wave of positive change that would arise from not viewing animals as commodities, we would also make gains in reducing our environmental impact and improving our overall health. We all need to consider what actions we could take to make the world a better place for animals each day.
There are a few that come to mind. I will focus on my zen teacher telling me that everything just is. In a sense we are always just arriving to the current moment. All things are just is-ing in their own unique ways. I felt this strongly when he told me, but I fear that I have strayed in understanding it recently. Interpreted one way, the hope this provides comes vaguely in the form of “this too shall pass.” But I’m not wholly convinced that is the point. I heard that zen monks posited there are 6,400,099,980 moments in a day. Don’t ask me where they got this number, just live with it and maybe during one or two of those you can understand that everything just is and it will prompt hope for you too.
I have a hard time resisting the temptation of exploring new productivity tools. Productivity conversations and exploring others workflows are a challenge to resist as well. I can’t resist self-imposed challenges and the urge to try forming new habits. I can’t resist self-help and topics like minimalism as well. There is definitely something more that I want out of less. I can’t resist updates, especially those that improve upon simplicity.
What have I lost that I can never get back? I’m not entirely sure how I would even go about writing this. I have lost some people in my life, but I could always reach out to nearly all of them even though I don’t. I’ve lost weight, that was big. I’ve lost items, nothing major. I’ve lost aspects of my personality, nothing that I feel is of great sadness. I’ve lost, temporarily, what felt like my ego. Does biggest refer to the most impacting or the most quantitative. Can biggest loss be construed as a positive? I have to lose things in order to understand what I, if ever, if even possible, have. I want to lose more. Hmm… I genuinely lost that cool camouflage backpack from Carlos and my Torker single speed with a kickback hub. Those were a bummer to lose.
My life changed forever the day that my car got stolen at my sister’s house. I remember staying the night at Bill’s with CJ and it was a really fun evening. We left my car at my sister’s house in Rockford in order to carpool with Bill and save on some gas money. When we came back to her house in the morning to pick up my car all that was left was a small pile of glass and a golfball. That is all it took to get into a car that is “very popular for theft.” We made the police report and they were all but useless in terms of providing peace of mind or any inkling that the car may one day eventually be found. A few days later they called to relay a report that they found a torched car in a forest nearby Janine’s place. Jason and I went to investigate it in the middle of the night after a Denny’s coffee session. We drove out to the forest equipped with flashlights looking to see just what happened and sure enough my car was there with every discernible thing broken or burnt. I had a lot of great memories and enjoyable music in that car, but it didn’t last long. This changed my life forever because it was the kick I needed to ultimately pack up my life and to move to Chicago where my life would change again in ways that I could never imagine.
It feels uncomfortable not knowing what to do. What common ground do we have? What will be our first words exchanged? Most importantly for myself, what use does this person have to me? What purpose to they serve and what role will they fulfill? I suppose every person I meet is an opportunity to make a new friend or companion, yet I have often built a wall before even saying hello to this new someone. I always wait for others to make the first move, reserving myself, steeling myself in my preparedness to judge this new person. Thinking back on nearly all the people I have met in life, exchanges began as awkward and with general skepticism. I think “who is this?” far too often, much more than I would like to admit.