Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ask the egg

When he sought training from the monks in China, a bigamist acupuncturist I went to for treatment had been only grudgingly accepted. And the first segment of his training included endless, merciless beatings.

The monks who were once the repository of acupuncture skills could see that his well-heeled family background (his father, if I recall, had been an industrialist who moved from his oriental home to Sweden in the course of business) had seeped in and would prove a barrier to his skills: Acupuncture was an art to serve; it was not a realm of merchandizing and self-aggrandizing proprietors.

Anyway, the monks beat the crap out of him. I do not know how long his training lasted, but when it was over, there were no diplomas that I know of. Only when he came to America would the acupuncturist have to gather up the paperwork that would 'prove' he could do what he actually could do.

That his early training had had some effect was underscored even in the time when I received his treatment for a nagging bit of arthritis: Yes, he charged money, but if there were a need and the patient had no money, he would provide treatment for free. He was a servant, not a proprietor. He had nothing to sell ... he only had something to offer.

The spiritually-inclined might imagine that this was a man of humble demeanor, with a bowed head and serene gaze. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was full of piss and vinegar, loved to dance and was blissfully unaware of the discomfort he might be causing by being married to two women (with two kids each) at the same time. He was flawed ... he was himself ... and he was a servant.

And I thought of him this morning when two front-page newspaper articles appeared. How or whether they related to the bigamist acupuncturist, I'm not sure. But it felt, somehow, as if they did.

Celebrating a tax increase
The first article concerned the passage of a local tax override measure. The vote was roughly 60% in favor and 40% opposed. One woman who may be forced to move away from a city she has called home for years was quoted as saying, "We can't afford it. Money is extremely tight for us." The measure will buttress schools, cops and various services and, for those who favored the tax increase, it was a matter of the quality of life in their home town. Living on a fixed-income as I do, the tax hike is a decided bite in the financial ass. But worse that that, somehow, I sense a well-heeled arrogance in those willing to make improvements on the backs of others. I could be wrong, of course, but I doubt it. (Here is a rewrite of an article I wrote and submitted to the newspaper four or five days before the override passed.)

The second article, immediately below the override tale, probably has zero interest for anyone who does not live in my home town, Northampton -- a city whose comfort rests largely on the Ivy League college here (Smith) ... a city where many favored the impact and intention of the Occupy Wall Street movement and could be moved to tears by the growing income disparities in the country. The second article had to do with the closure and sale of a local lumber yard. No one wants to buy the business, Northampton Lumber Co., but the property is large and the potential for condos or cafes or other money-making devices is obvious.

Lumber builds things ... actually  builds something. It does not connive or posture, excuse or applaud ... it just builds stuff. It creates. It serves in concrete ways. True, the local lumber company probably charged more than the big box stores like Lowe's or Home Depot which specialize in high volume and dubious quality, but still ... to have a lumber store that contrasts with the arty gimcrack and pub-chuckling and smoothly income-rife establishments strikes me as sensible.  Am I biased based on both tight income and a past love of building things? You bet I am.

But there seems to me to be something whopper-jawed and out-of-balance about all this. No doubt my age and an unwillingness to have my comfort zone revised play a role. No one, in any endeavor, can pursue that endeavor without demonstrating the old adage, "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs." Everyone ignores one thing in order to focus on another... good or bad, no difference.

But who, while making an omelet, consults the egg? Not that this is easy or ever perfect, but still ... what does the egg say? Isn't there a wisdom to hearing the egg?

Today's news stories made me feel as if there were some principle that was out of kilter. Criticism is not the point. Facts on the ground and actual outcome(s) feel somehow, amorphously, skewed.

A Somali security official who was summing up the why's and wherefore's of piracy off his shores once observed: "If you do not share your wealth with us, we will share our poverty with you."

Cruisin' for a bruisin'.

Too many jovial proprietors and not enough servants.

I suspect we're all in for a licking.

1 comment:

  1. ". . . and could be moved to tears by the growing income disparities in the country."

    Of all the social forces that threaten civil society, I believe this is the most concerning.