My usual route home from work takes me past the Pacific Coast Campus of Long Beach City College.
As I was driving home today I noticed two Jehovah’s Witness-type Bible people on the street corner looking over toward the campus. Something felt serious about the way they were looking over there. Like, you know how when something unusual/out-of-the-ordinary happens in public and people sorta stop and stare for a minute? Well, cuing in on that, I too glanced over at the campus just in time to see three cop cars speeding up to the entrance of the school and come to a halt, one already with his door open. I then saw a few other police officers running toward the entrance, guns drawn. Holy fuck. Was this yet another school shooting going down right now?! As I slowly drove past the campus, I saw a small unit of what looked to be SWAT officers going in towards the school. Suddenly, two or three loud bangs went off. My first thought was, Huh, gunshots sound kinda puny from a distance, almost like just loud cap guns or something. And then I thought, Fuck, what if a stray bullet hits me through my open passenger window? Then I noticed some younger looking police-type guys standing guard near the campus driveway behind a traffic barricade. They didn’t seem to be too concerned by what was happening; I think I even saw one of them smiling as he talked to his buddy. WTF? Aren’t you alarmed that there’s a shooting going down right now?! Then I noticed a whole shit load of cop cars and emergency type vehicles congregated towards the back of the campus. Ahhh, it’s some kind of scenario training going on.
Whew. I actually circled back around again to drive past and double check. Yes, it was a training. Thankfully. My God, I thought. That would have been very unsettling had that been a real “active shooter” scenario. It’s one thing to read and hear about these things happening in some other city, state or town you’ve never heard of. Very different when it occurs in the areas you work or live. Goddamn…
Witnessing that today got me really thinking again about the type of work I want to be doing on this planet. When I was younger, around middle-school age or so, I remember thinking I wanted to be a Navy SEAL ( probably because I had been reading one of Richard Marcinko’s books). I can’t remember if I was actually serious about it; I think it had more to do with wanting to be or look cool. At that time I was also into BB gun wars and paintballing (ahhh, those were the days…), so I probably thought I was a junior commando or something. Haha. As I got older, particularly in my mid to late twenties (I’m 34 now at the time of typing this), still without any real idea of “career”, but sensing this impulse in me that wanted to “help people”, I thought that maybe I should consider being a firefighter or an EMT. By that time I knew I didn’t want to have to carry a gun and possibly shoot people. But I did have, again, this sense of wanting to help people out in times of distress and trouble. To run towards the fire while everyone else was running away.
It wasn’t until I read this book by Dr. Elaine Aron that I became enlightened as to who and why I was the way I was (which I’ve blahged about before here). There’s something to be said for that ancient Greek adage, know thyself. Seeing those police officers today, with guns drawn, running towards the sound of danger like that (albeit simulated), I was like Man, that’s serious work. And I thought, what’s the equivalent of that based upon who I am? That’s not to say I don’t have the capability of being a police officer or firefighter. But again, knowing thyself, I know that I wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of routine or schedule. I wouldn’t feel healthy and alive and fulfilled being on the front lines. I’d more likely be stressed out, stretched thin, angry, irritable, hostile, negative, disgruntled and just plain unpleasant to be around. Kind of like the time*, before I had left for Detroit, when I was doing judo twice a week and maintaining my practice schedule at my Sensei’s dojo 2 or 3 times a week and working 40 hours. That may not be a lot for some people, but that was way too much training for me. I mean, at the time of course, I had little idea about my truer nature and I thought that I needed to be a gung-ho warrior type intent on being a better, more knowledgeable martial artist. Hahaha. *Sigh* What I needed to do was just chill and be okay with not trying to do too many things at once. The point is, there are certain types of people who are able to maintain relative equilibrium with that kind of warrior schedule. I’m not one of them.
*Not even just before Detroit; check out some of my posts from when I was in Seattle.
Consider this quote from Dr. Aron’s book:
Sooner or later everyone encounters stressful life experiences, but HSPs react more to such stimulation. If you see this reaction as part of some basic flaw, you intensify the stress already present in any life crisis. Next come feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness (5).
Not that I don’t have the ability to maintain that schedule. I was doing so, in fact. It’s that I “react more” to the kind of stress that puts on me. I feel more wacked-outta-line (hence the severe disgruntlement bordering on depression and suicide). Added to that, because of my lack of knowledge about myself, I felt that this was some kind of “flaw” in me as Aron says. Some kind of weakness that I needed to push outta my system like a piece of shit in my intestines. Had I been educated about my trait, and felt empowered rather than burdened by it, then perhaps I too would have been better able to weather the storm.
But, as I was saying about “serious work”. What would that be for me? A counselor? A priest? A Buddhist monk? A therapist? A teacher? It’s like, I’m looking for that same quality of serious like those cops rushing in with guns drawn. Like firefighters racing to the scene of a burning building. Goosebumps serious. You know what I mean? In fact, that’s the quality I was looking to create during my filmmaking days. Not that it was all about being serious. Just that, I wanted to really grab people by the throat with my creative visions. Sadly, this all became too literal, with me destroying my filmmaking friendship exactly because of this inability to maintain equilibrium. But that’s besides the point now…
Back in January I had the fortune of attending one those Monday night meditation + dharma talks with Noah Levine facilitating. That was a profound and inspiring session for me because he used the analogy of the Dharma being like a “fire extinguisher” to put out the fires of greed, hatred and delusion. He referenced this Bad Religion album:
With the young man being on fire, literally. Noah was saying that we are like this, on fire, when we are not “awake”; burning through the world with our greed, hatreds and delusions, creating suffering for ourselves and others. That was pretty synchronicitous though, that he used that analogy. Exactly how I had imagined myself. A spiritual firefighter. How that can manifest itself as a “career” or job of some type, I still don’t have any real clue. I know I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing now for the rest of my life (which is delivery driving). I did have the thought that the equivalent of seriousness to being an actual firefighter or cop would be a teacher, whether a public school teacher or Buddhist teacher, I don’t know. Kind of like my ex-partner who taught middle school. It may not be a position that’s given much credit in our society, but I do think it’s a position that carries weight, at least in my mind. That’s a serious job to me. I’m not saying I’m interested in making this my career. I’m saying that this kind of role is what suits my nature better than being a cop or fireman. But yeah, if I became like an actual teacher of some kind, I’d probably be proud of myself. Happy to have found some kind of useful niche in society. That’s all I’m looking for man. Just some place to fit in and be of service and be appreciated for what I bring to the motherfucking table.
. . .
With that being said, it’s time now for me to…bum bum bum…end this blahg. Really. Not just this post but this entire blog. Like, stop blogging forever. For real this time. haha. Seriously. I’ve found a more suitable platform for myself, I think. Less long form blahblahblahging and more concise to the point. Plus, still a way to keep track of whatever little insights or cool shit I come across. It’s still under construction but you can follow it here. Or not.
A few days ago it was April 1st. Four years ago to that day was when I drove out of Detroit. Which means that this blog, which was created a month or so before leaving is now four years old. Wow. Kind of a trip because, it’s not been that long, but a lotta things been happenin’ in that short space of time. A lot of which you can read about in my post archives. But it’s been feeling right for me to finally lay this thing down. The other platform is more suitable I believe for giving voice to my multi-faceted self. I am most certainly still a quantum karateka, but karate and martial arts really isn’t my core thing. Not quite sure I can put that core thing into words yet, but it has to do with that “seriousness”. With helping people put out their fires. Shit, putting out my own fire! Fuck. I be burnin’ too! I am still going to check back in here every once in a while, in case people wanna comment on stuff that I need to moderate. Otherwise, yeah dude. It’s dead. I’m gone. Moved on.
To all readers past and future, thank you. Really. And to any future offspring who will read these thoughts, this is here for you. Actually no, not really. This is here for me. To remind myself of where I’ve been and where I wanted to go.
So for the last time…ELBOW Smash! And I’ll leave you with a Buddhist blessing I learned from Noah:
May you be happy. May you be at ease. May you be free from suffering.