Friday, May 15, 2009

pig farming

There is dignity and peace in all times and places, but the human desire to improve upon things ... well, there is the old, crass and utterly appropriate critique that goes, "S/he's so dumb, s/he'd fuck up a wet dream."

It's the same for all of us, I imagine, though many may be more polite about it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And yet we insist on fixing it. Sometimes I do wonder if the politenesses we visit on others work very well when we visit them on ourselves. Sweet-talking evasions and comfortable agreements. Maybe those politenesses work. I don't know.

The other day, I caught a snippet of a radio interview in which an Alabama pig farmer was the focal point. He and his wife tended pigs and knew pigs and had a collection of movies they enjoyed and cared for each other.

I have shoveled pig shit in the past and so the idea of a universe filled with pig-wisdoms did not appeal to me viscerally: Pig shit smells like human shit whereas horse shit or cow shit is pleasing to my nose. During the interview, I could hear the pigs oinking and grunting in the background and it took me back to my own days tending pigs and shoveling their shit.

The man spoke in simple ways about the wisdoms necessary to pig farming. He seemed to know those wisdoms -- feeding, breeding, butchering, etc. -- and was content in my ear. His wife seemed to be on the same frequency, both in pig farming and in life. As they talked, they seemed unaffected by being interviewed and unsurprised by the wisdoms they possessed. The were at peace in my ear.

And for the first time in a long time, I felt the longing to meet someone. As others might long to meet the Dalai Lama or some other spiritual light, so I longed to meet this Alabama pig farmer who sounded straight and clear and unconcerned with improvements. It was just wonderful to know that such a man existed in this world. My heart melted to him.

But of course, even if I were to meet him, what could possibly be gained? In what way would a melting heart be answered or informed? He was and is just a man -- two arms, two legs, one heart, one mind ... just like mine. What anointing could I possibly expect? Could he possibly tell me what I imagined he knew? Yes, he inspired me; yes, he made my heart soar ... but whose inspiration and soaring was this? If he told me not to fuck up a wet dream, could I possibly hear him or know what he was talking about until I stopped fucking up my own wet dream?

Where the heart melts and soars, it is hard not to follow and feel delight. Not to credit and believe and insist that it's all true. I would love to stand in the presence of this Alabama pig farmer and yet, were it all to come true, wouldn't I feel that something was missing? that somehow he had something to give and he was not giving it to me? that the salvation I longed for were not being strangely withheld? And might not my adoration and meltings then become mixed with irritation at the imagined withholding?

Finding salvation in another is so compelling. Look at the temples and churches on Main Street. Look at the temples and churches in the mind. Isn't it so? Yes, it's touching and human and forgivable up to a point ....

The point where anyone might decide to stop fucking up a perfectly good wet dream.

In Buddhism there is a saying that, however confounding, is just plain true:

"Do not do as the master did. Know what the master knew."

I take some consolation in this saying: At least I don't have to shovel pig shit. :)

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