Naked and spectacular

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Pain and beauty

I can only assume God gave me a human body for a reason.  I can only assume that my desires and compulsions serve some purpose.  Perhaps I differ from other people in that I decided that everything I do should benefit me in some way, as opposed to destroying or numbing myself.  This is a life-long process ending inevitably with death.  I have heard theories that the self-fulfilment process continues after death, that after death you transcend these concerns to a higher level or that you cease to exist.  I do not know, I only have memory of experience this side of death and I do not pretend to speculate further.
    I propose that it is possible to know and respond to a personal truth so complete that I can only assume that it benefits me after death, on inconceivable levels and throughout parallel universes in which I may or may not exist.
    You are reading this with a particular mind, a mind that seems to be strongly embedded in a body that is strongly embedded in an environment, this universe.  It seems to me that for most people most of the time they have limited their awareness to this double-layered reality of body and universe.  We struggle as a species and as individuals to maintain and expand a valuable applicable understanding of this body/universe reality while simultaneously aware of an incomprehensibly larger and more complex reality, experienced most commonly through dreams.  We perform many convoluted experiments to understand this body/universe but we primarily get our information through the five senses; taste, smell, hearing, sight and touch.  There is also an intricate network of psychic interconnectedness, but for the purposes of this chapter I will maintain focus on the relationship with the body.
    It is impossible to separate the body and the mind, but what does promote separation is the consciousness.  Unlike the body and the mind, indistinguishable, the consciousness can choose whether or not it listens to the messages of the body.  The body communicates with the consciousness in myriad ways, but today I reduce them to pain and beauty.
    We all know that when we touch something hot the body will send a message of pain to the exact part of the body that requires conscious attention and thus the consciousness disengages the surface of the body from the excessive heat.  Pain is extremely important in knowing how to keep the body alive.  Without pain we will never know we are killing ourselves.  Pain is designed to be avoided.  We don’t want to touch the fire because the pain makes it repulsive.
    However, when we combine this natural pain avoidance instinct with the intellectual superiority complex of the human consciousness we come up with the bizarre idea that pain is “bad”.  It thus becomes a moral imperative to stop all human pain on this planet.  Being a completely hysterical process disguised as logical and with the power of human organisation and technology, this anti-pain campaign causes a lot of pain.
    There is a tendency for governments to ordain themselves with the responsibility of ending human pain and so it is the governments who maintain “defence” forces who are constantly searching for a potential enemy to attack.  Ironically this process causes a lot of pain and despite the evidence that suggests that this process does not in the long-term create peace, it is important for the survival of the governmental organisations that they maintain the appearance of stopping pain through this incredibly painful process.
    The pain of poverty is a pain that seems to span all life-forms and all time.  In the same way that a tree in poor soil, lacking the nutrients to sustain life, will slowly and painfully die, a family who can no longer extract food from their environment because the soil is barren or the animals have emigrated following the destruction of their habitat or because they have forgotten the wisdom of their ancestors about how to live with the land and have the land provide will experience the pain of hunger or starvation.
    I have never felt the pain of true hunger.  This is because I grew up in a culture defined largely by the massive feat of organisation and technology known as Capitalism, a noble effort of humanity to cease the pain of poverty forever.  However, it seems Capitalism has a few painful side-effects.  Primarily, it requires a massive amount of organisation.  It requires the sustained efforts of almost the entire human population from age 18-65 to keep the mechanisms of Capitalism moving.
    To maintain this strict regime of working 40 hours a week for 47 years is apparently very exhausting and leads to alienation, depression, stress, cancer, addiction and of course the feeling of the meaninglessness of existence.  I have memories of some of these painful experiences and tend to link them back to my own behaviour, rather than blaming the system, but I do not experience them anymore and thus do not feel comfortable talking about them.  It seems the above painful symptoms are unavoidable side-effects of those who choose to dedicate their lives to Capitalism in the hope that they never experience the pain of poverty.
    From the moment a child is born into this world they begin to learn.  They learn about their world and their place in the world.  For depictions of a natural, chaotic human education read the novels of Hermann Hesse.  This process, known in Australian tradition as Walkabout, involves a confrontation with nature, where Chaos reigns and the individual must rely on the inconsistent support of synchronicity, God and the kindness of strangers.  One can never predict what will result from this individuation process, destruction, realisation, simplicity or corruption.  It is irremovable from the rhythms of life and the movements of nature and thus fits awkwardly with Civilisation.  Thus Civilisation has provided Education.
    The purpose of Education is to send every child to an identical structured environment to memorise an identical curriculum and thus iron out, as much as possible, the natural variations and discrepancies in the children’s responses to the world.
    It is possible that some children, precocious in their examination but short-sighted in their ignorance, feel some confusion about the state of the world maintained by their culture, seeing the control structures’ apparent anti-human behaviour but not seeing the pain that it alleviates, the equality of thought and behaviour, the alienation from the dangerously chaotic nature of an uncontrolled earth.
    A successful education therefore relieves the child from the pain of self-examination and potential confusion by embedding them deeply in the rhythms of Capitalism, repetitive and therefore reliable, smoothing out the defects and deviations of nature.  Having completed a successful education a successful child will have successfully managed to find a way to contribute while maintaining an arsenal of logical explanations and entertaining distractions from urges encouraging their spiritual fulfilment outside of the civilised mechanisms of Capitalism.
    Just as war can be a painful road to peace, so can Education be a painful process for the child, channelling frustration into bullying, channelling confusion into conformity and self-expression into drug abuse.  But this pain is inevitably necessary to maintain the cultural unity necessary to perpetuate Capitalism and obviate other natural forms of pain.
    The most commonly accepted form of pain is, of course, physical pain, caused by illness or injury.  To alleviate physical pain completely humans have organised the impressively complex Health Industry.  Health, in this context, is painlessness, because pain, deep within the fundamental unexamined belief systems of the Health Industry, is “bad”.
    Pain is manifest as “symptoms” which can be repressed with the aid of drugs like antihistamines, for the repression of the symptoms of allergy, anti-depressants, for the repression of the symptoms of Civilisation, and of course the epitome of the Health Industry, pain killers such as paracetamol and morphine, all of which help the civilised man continue for as long as possible in an unhealthy environment without pain.
    Sometimes it is necessary to target the source of pain by cutting out a cancer or removing an individual from society and placing them in a mental institution or prison and thus tackling the root of the problem and allowing the continuation of an unhealthy environment.
    One of the unavoidable side-effects of the Health Industry is the dependence on drugs and experts that alienates the individual from their own body, what it needs to maintain healthy and heal itself, how it responds to its environment and the substances it consumes.  The Health Industry, it can be said, is addictive.
    The primary intention of the Health Industry in relation to pain is to overcome death, an aim not yet fulfilled.  In light of this failure the Health Industry compromises by withholding death for as long as possible, desperately clinging to the last seconds of life, regardless of their quality.  It seems death, inevitable though it is, is the shameful failure of our anti-pain culture.  Death is the most painful thing of all, the prospect of death, the process of death and the results of death are unbearably painful for a society in so much denial about reality and what it means to be alive.  Who could argue with the necessity of stopping death when it confronts us with our temporality, our deep involvement with the processes of nature, loss and loneliness.
    My mother’s death was the most powerfully transformative pain of my life, stripping me naked of the supportive nurturing aura of love I had experienced since birth and thrusting me fully equipped with the responsibility and autonomy of adulthood into a world far vaster than I anticipated.  My mother killed herself 25 days after my 21st birthday, for which she organised a surprise party for me, designed to lift me out of the depression into which I had sank.
    The depression was caused by a new realisation of the personal and social possibilities of the world and a simultaneous lack of change of lifestyle to match my realisations, excessive use of marijuana and obsessive love.  My mother’s death, unlike her surprise birthday party, rocked my world to the extent that all my foundations collapsed and I was left alone in a terrestrial environment that I slowly discovered was not as dangerous, chaotic or lonely as I had been warned.

Pain has been one of the guiding forces of my life.  Unlike a recurring dream that repeats again and again if not acknowledged I don’t seem to need so much pain to listen and understand and make appropriate changes.  But sometimes I need a jolt of pain like a dose of ECT.
    Seven years ago I wandered down to the beach one Sunday after work, alone.  I met a group of people who excited and fascinated me, I went home with them and they became my friends.  One man in particular, Darius, 21, I found particularly fascinating and disgusting the first time I met him.  The second time I saw him we realised an intense unspoken connection between the two of us.  We were young and stoned and could not have imagined that this intensity between us was years of evolving friendship stretching backwards through time.
    We were all stoned and Darius cornered me alone in the kitchen.  He picked up a knife and held it towards me and he asked me to lie on the floor so he could cut me open and eat my intestines.  I refused, semi-erect and scared of death.  From this moment on his presence or lack of presence was my only concern, I was in love, I was obsessed.  The deeper I got into this obsessive love the more pain I felt at the slightest rejection, the more impossible it became to tell him how I feel and thus diffuse the situation.  My silent intensity increased, along with my marijuana intake and the pain of his absence would cause me to bang my head against the wall and to punch myself in the face.  I resolved the situation by finally sending him a desperate intense email about months of repressed feelings that I could not possibly say to his face like a human being.  He sent me a short, dismissive callous reply that stabbed my heart figuratively and provoked me to break my relationship with him completely, banish him from my life for a few years until I calm down.  His reply seemed exceptionally mean-spirited at the time but it was just what I needed, a shock of pain, because I had built mental structures and lifestyle structures to facilitate the feeling of a lot of low-level pain.  For some reason I needed that pain and I found a way of manifesting it.  Finally, I felt it intensely enough to change my life, to ease the pain.
    Somehow I knew that I would not see him for years and then our friendship would somehow be renewed.  He moved in with his mother and girlfriend not far from where I was living on the far north west coast of New Zealand and we reunited, free from the need to experience the pain we had caused ourselves and each other six years earlier.
    I fell in love again though, shortly after banishing Darius from my life.  My flatmate’s brother came to visit and he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  Samuel was 15 years old, with long blonde hair and soft white skin.  I wanted to raise him on a pedestal as an artefact of extreme beauty; I wanted to make love to him, fulfil my desire, worship his body and bring him pleasure.  I felt desire, admiration, shame and delight and I didn’t know what to do with this bundle of conflicting emotions and so I did nothing, again repressing my love as a shameful object.  I hid, I made outbursts, I ran away and I mumbled my desire and of course with such chaotic unstable expressions I created no manifestation of our mutual love.
    Three years after the instigation of this internal affair I had only one option left.  Samuel was working as a body piercer and so I decided to have him pierce my nipple.  I sat on his bench and he pushed his sanitised needle through my nipple.  I felt no pain, but a wave of heat passed over my body and I almost fainted.  He laid me back and lifted my legs until I returned to normal.  I invited him to have a drink with me and we had a nice talk; but I told him I “care about” him when I should have told him that I want to make love with him.  This initial meeting became nothing and I made another appointment for my second nipple.  I approached my second piercing differently.  My brother told me that having his nipple pierced was the most painful thing he had experienced.  I wasn’t convinced that my yearning for this beautiful young man was a lesser pain than having a needle shoved through my nipple.
    I lay down on the bench, I closed my eyes and I focussed on my breath.  I felt no pain, no discomfort, just the intensity of the moment wash over me like a single wave from the cleansing ocean.  I stood, thanked him and left.  He was surprised by my abrupt behaviour but I had determined to move on with my life, to provide that last dose of pain and then make room for a new love.  I got the pain I somehow needed through frustrated love until the pain was sufficient and then I chose for it to end.  Why would I cause myself so much pain?  I don’t know, all I know is that I created all the necessary variables to experience and prolong that pain until I was finished with it, then I orchestrated a rather convoluted symbolic situation in which to end the process.  Three years later I have fallen in love many times since and he is but a memory and my friend on Facebook.
    This was 2008, my final year in Auckland.  I truly tried my best to live the life I was educated to live.  I got my degree, I paid my rent, everything was taken away from me when I lost my mother, my home and my life purpose, I wandered around in confusion, I came back to Auckland to try again.  I tried again with Samuel, I hung out with the Hare Krishnas and I wrote and performed poetry.  I returned to Auckland for two full years after my depression and lonely wandering manifested nothing tangible.  A fulfilling life failed to materialise for me in the city, despite my honest attempts.
    I found myself, towards the end of my second year, experiencing the same marijuana-fuelled depression I had run away from last time.  There was so much existential pain in my meaningless life and I had no idea why.  I didn’t know it at the time, having spent my entire life living in houses, but I was suffering from what I would go on to call Domestic Compulsive Disorder.  I didn’t know what I could do differently, all I knew was that my life was meaningless and I had to do something about it.  I smoked more marijuana and stayed home more, with the comforts of television, internet, the bath and my bed.
    I found myself, late one midweek morning, cowering in a corner of the living room in a foetal position, my last cone of marijuana packed into my bong, unsmoked, the banging of my head no longer providing relief from the unavoidable noise of the pain I had made for myself, non-physical but tangibly palpable.  The pain hurt but I can’t say it was bad.
    I saw life as a wave of fluctuating ups and downs, rather than the steep climb from unconsciousness to enlightenment and at that moment, in that room, in that foetal position, I saw clearly the exact moment I hit rock bottom, as I had been aiming for months, and thus began the ascent up the other side.  I instantly felt my energy come back, so strong I felt indignation at my pathetic position and I channelled this manic energy into immediate life change.  I ran around the house smashing my belongings, the useless objects that weighed me down to a life that did not satisfy.  The pain had finally reached a sufficient level to provoke action.  That night I filled two rubbish sacks with useless objects I had accumulated and that sucked up the space around me.  I smashed my bong on the driveway, throwing it from the balcony and unintentionally baptising myself in shit-stinking bong water as it flew from my hand and momentum took the bong and not the water inside.
    So quickly and easily I was free and could spend the next few months clearing out the practical considerations before leaving Auckland for my first invitation to paradise.
    Living a healthy lifestyle in a nurturing inspiring environment I would lay in bed at night in utter peace, I would feel emotions moving through my body like blood, like water.  I tried to understand these feelings, to name them.  I felt happiness and sadness overlap until they were indistinguishable.  I couldn’t look at my life and decide whether I was failing or succeeding and therefore whether my emotions were happy or sad; my life was a blank slate.  I felt confident to do anything, to go anywhere, or to stay put and do nothing.  If I felt sick I would fast and go to bed, but I lived under a skylight on a mezannine and it was too hot there during the day.  I was always happy to get out of bed in the morning and face the brightness and the vast ocean and the sound of its waves rolling up the hill like an amphitheatre.  If I felt depressed or tired I found work to do or I walked the dogs down to the beach and I would return hungry and tired to eat and relax.
    Pain would pass through me quickly and easily.  The dogs would kindly and lovingly lick my wounds without me having to ask.  Every morning I would feel new, every time I dived naked into the ocean I would emerge refreshed.  When my hair was cut it would rot back into the earth, along with everything else that could not be recycled or fed to the pigs.  I would kneel on the earth to weed the strawberry patch, I would bend down towards the earth to pick my salads, and I would lie down on the earth in the long grass and masturbate looking at the sky.  Pain was not an issue.
    I had lots of friends, Auckland was a good place to make friends, the social networks were well-defined and interconnected.  I described my paradise to them and they told me they would come to visit, but mostly they did not.  Nothing was more special than the days when my friends did come to visit and I accommodated them in my bed or on my floor.  To bring friends to share paradise with me was all the joy I needed and taught me what the next step in my life was.
    The two friends who came to visit me, the only two not trapped by the accumulations and commitments of their lives, inspired me to travel freely with them.  I had all the time in the world, but still there was only time for the most beautiful people and so I dedicated my life to them.  I followed Bill and Lauren until there was more beauty this side of my horizon.  I followed beauty to Australia and returned to paradise to find the dogs dead.  I could not maintain paradise and pursue beauty simultaneously, so I chose beauty, dreaming that one day I would return to paradise with a precious friend to share it with.
    I met four Swedish men in Australia and travelled with them.  We experienced so much joy together, I fell in love with them all and they invited me back to Sweden with them.  I flew to Sweden, I saw my friends and I have not 15 months later returned to New Zealand.
    In 2007 I was searching for a new home and I was blessed to be able to choose from two delightful prospects.  I was shown around one house by a beautiful young man, sexy, friendly, and for this reason only one decision was possible.  I never made love to this sexy young man but somehow I knew when I first looked at him that I was being offered something in him.  Now, four years later, we are about to be in the same country again, drastically different people both, but a persistent connection, manifest in my experience of his luminous beauty and the continued potential of our friendship.
    The world is so open and giving to me.  I do not earn money and yet even material objects are abundant.  Because of my freedom and joy there is a lot of room in my life to pursue what is meaningful to me, to change my mind and pursue the best option, to not know where my actions will take me.
    I marvel at this world’s insistence that pain is bad when it continues to provide me with invaluable information about the world I am living in.  Beauty is the most important thing in my life and I pursue beauty relentlessly, though I don’t know what to do with it when I get it.  It is painful to be rejected, though only for a moment.  When I am accepted the joy can be so overwhelming it could be called pain.  When I’m feeling strong I can lie under the stars, lonely but at peace, feeling the pain of my yearning for my absent lover and smiling at this delicious pain.  Only when I hold my breath is the pain unbearable, when I breathe well I can be sure that I can go outside and urinate and it will soak into the earth.
    When I slash open my thumb or am attacked by Police I can’t help but ask, “Why have I done this to myself?”  “I didn’t mean to,” some might say.  “It was an accident.”  But it is never accidental.  When my presence, my actions and my relationship to my environment are entirely in my control I cannot claim that the results of these variables are accidental.  When I tell my friend that I would like a good cry because I never cry, and then I forget the comment completely, and then I move on with my life and orchestrate a series of events that results unexpectedly in me crying in the rain in Stockholm alone and then I return to my friend and she reminds me of my comment, I wonder if my dedication to the meaning and purpose of my life is entirely the responsibility of consciousness.
    When I am not making conscious plans, pursuing them and succeeding, am I a failure, am I failing to realise my potential, am I being led nowhere by no one?  That cannot be true when I find myself in increasingly surprising and beautiful places with so many exciting and beautiful people.  I have never been able to conceive of plans as complex and delightful as the turns my life has taken.  I would never dare hope for so much love and beauty and my imagination is not great enough to conceive of the wonders I have seen.
    Like Alice following the white rabbit down the rabbit hole I am ready to jump at the right offer and abandon everything I know for the unexpected.  I have been warned of danger by people who barricade themselves in houses but my experience consistently contradicts their threats disguised as advice.
    When I sleep on the bare earth I am safe from snakes and crocodiles and Police.  Even rain usually gives me the night to rest beside the fire.  I find beautiful people and I am not scared of them like I used to be.  I naturally give the most exciting the most attention.  Perhaps I will tell them how I feel, if appropriate, or maybe I will just touch their shoulder and look into their eyes.  Even then I have discovered it is difficult to look into both eyes at once.
    When I do what I am compelled to do I don’t see how I can fail.  My purpose, after all, is to realise myself fully in this world and then dissolve into another world via death.  If I notice a beautiful human my conscious mind may tell me I want to make love to them.  The truth of my body cannot be translated into language however.  Maybe I’m not going to make love to this person, maybe we are simply going to share space with the knowledge that I want to make love and he does not, and maybe this is sufficiently intense and valuable.
    I go to temporary Edens where my tribe gathers and the true movements of life, emerging from the earth, emerging from the space between the humans that excite and terrify us the most, emerging from the subtleties of our bodies, become our guiding forces and are intensified in the natural environment and the familiar social structure of the tribe.  The concept that some emotions or situations are “good” and others “bad” becomes too ludicrous to entertain.  The ups and downs are rich and dynamic, they are my life and I value them.
    One day I am feeling lonely and horny and want to make a connection.  I walk to the waterhole to swim under the sun with my tribe and my frustration is exasperated by my observation that everyone seems to be ignoring me.  I stand amongst the people, interacting with one another, thinking I want their attention but I’m too sad and weak to ask for it.  Eventually I storm off up the path alone.  Everyone else walks slowly together, but I charge ahead, angry at being ignored.  It occurs to me that I obviously want to be alone and thus I walk alone despite my habit of togetherness.  It occurs to me that all day I have wanted to be alone and successfully I have manifested this through the pathetic conscious idea that I desperately need someone to validate me with their attention.  If my intention was personal space then I am amazed that I manipulated my own consciousness to such an extent that I repelled those around me with desperation.  Am I ever not manifesting my intentions when my true will is this powerful and my conscious mind so irrelevant?
    I am not alone in this world.  When I follow a beauty I can only assume he wants to be followed.  We have chosen each other to share this experience.  We have chosen each other before our lives began, we chose each other in another dimension or outside of time, we chose each other via the unconscious psychic network that connects us all.  I don’t know, but I know that we choose beauty to communicate with each other.
    Why am I staring at this child I do not know, how we could be friends I cannot imagine, but your beauty singles you out like a spotlight and rest assured that I have noticed and I am ready to honour or love you the second the opportunity arises.
    The more carefully I listen to the messages of my body, the more it tells me.  It seems there is always a deeper and richer and more complex understanding to be gained from real communication.  Words may be limited in their capacity, but pain and beauty hold an infinite depth of perfect contextualised truth.
    I guess if I calmly and confidently pursue this beauty who presents herself to me I will understand what we mean to each other.  If I respond to the subtle pains of my body with respect and love then I may not need the gross extremes of pain I have created for myself in the past.
    Life is an ever-opening flower of incomprehensible beauty.