The Human Condition

Our cozy little planet is presumed to have existed for over four and a half billion years. In the most recent three of those, it has been teeming with life. They come and go, and more than we will ever know of. The truth is there have been many species of fascinating creatures that crawled, squirmed, floated, swam, galloped, trotted, scurried, walked, ran and flown throughout our ever changing environment called Earth. Each had its mechanism for being. Each had the means with which to move about, perpetuate and thrive; the means with which to process some form of cognition, or maybe at the very least the means with which to perceive. Each had within it the mechanism responsible for ending the inadequate; the unnecessary; the obsolete. Some of these creatures persisted for millions of years before the mechanism within them led them down that narrowing path. To appear as if they never existed or at best to forever sequel into a display at the Smithsonian. To be something to learn from. We humans, the latest upgrade model of hominid, are no different. We have our own mechanism of survival, perpetuation, and ultimately, our own demise, “The Human Condition.”

The human condition, it mars the soul, and burdens the spirit. It is the initiating tool, cycle and grand culmination of all of societies mistakes and undoings. Whether you think of it as sin, failure, shortcomings, ethical or moral turpitude, or unhealthy normal reactions to abnormal stress. It divides us from harmony. It unites us in doleful conspiracy. It diminishes our value as a species. It threatens to resolve our issues with finality. To cure the infection we fester upon this planet by allowing us to render ourselves onto the path of extinction. We can learn to heal the wounds of the human condition. Treat the symptoms, and practice good preventative care, and we will prevail. Cure the human condition and we will evolve to something better; something truly amazing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Peace With The Father

     As an undersized child, bearing malnutrition and innocent of thought; I new little of fear.  I saw it in others, such as my father in his few moments of sobriety.  He suffered nightmares and at times crawled under the bed, sweating, wide eyed, and breathing as shallow as possible.  Quiet, hardly breathing at all.  Ready to kill.  Sometimes, I would lay on my stomach and watch him tear.  Quiet, hardly breathing at all.  Other times, I would crawl under the bed with him.  I prepared to defend the parameter.  Laying there in silence.  Ready to kill.  My father had power, and as such so did I...  I believed then that it made me invincible, A demigod.  Real power is always kept in silence.

     Living in the intercity of San Antonio, Texas was not ideal for his condition.  The vicinity was always filled with potential threats and the precision training he received as a young man compelled him to deal with such potential threats with unmitigated violence and butchery.  His capacity to stay in control and not kill everyone was true power indeed, but the treats were ever present and at times they seemed countless.  Everyday in the Victoria Projects we heard screams, and gun shots, and sirens.  Always first the police and then the ambulance.  It resulted in a profound effect in the foundation of my personality.  I suppose the clinical perspective would suggest that my fathers post traumatic stress disorder imprinted on to us, his family.  I never really quite realized the extent of harm my father endured in his time.  I only knew that he was my father and he could never be wrong.  His might was invisible and we had nothing to fear from the rest of the world.  It was the world that needed to be weary of us.  At our disposal was always the power to unleash the Juggernaut, my fathers vengeance and might.  The power.

      One day my father was watching my sister and I.  She was six and a half and I was five years old.  He took us into an old dim bar and sat us on tall bar stool, at the pinball machines by the entrance.  I remember the dingy lights filtering through all of the cigarette smoke.  The creaky old wooden floors covered in red sawdust.   The bar, the chairs, the ceiling fans, floor, doors and walls matched.  They all had that same dark, stressed finish.  The room smelled of stale.  A blend of cigarette, beer, hard liquor and tired working class, was repugnant and somehow comforting.  My father sat at the bar just a few paces away.  He gave my sister and I each a coke in a glass with ice and a stack of quarters for the machine.  The thick man behind the bar always wiping out glasses with a stained rag, frequently came over to brandish a crooked toothed grin and give us a fresh blast from the soda gun.  What a neat thing; I wounder just how far he could reach with it?  My father caught our attention with a slight raise of his hand, and despite the cacophony of jabbering patrons his voice was always clear and distinguishable.  He said, "Barracuda!  I'll be right back son.  I'm just going to the john out back.  See right there down that hall.  Keep an eye on your sister."  I waved back, as if to say okay.

      My command was easy to carry out.  Lulu was on the bar stool next to me and we were never beyond each others sight.  We drank our soda pop and dropped quarters into the pinball machines.  We gleamed at the marvel of bells and twinkling lights.  The wonder of the engineering; it’s activator motors, sensors and score keepers.  That beautiful chrome polished ball bearing racing through the maze of electronic mayhem and having the will to influence its seamless path of rebound and redirection.  There in two supple buttons, at the tips of our fingers, power.  Without a doubt my sister and I agreed, pinball machines are the purest, most beautiful art form of gadgetry.  In the mist of the machine’s musical odyssey, I realize that she'd stopped playing.  Her hands, no longer on the controls, were tightly held up close to her mouth.  Her clear dark orbs became as big as silver dollars.  I recognized it immediately.  There was fear in those eyes.  I turned to confront the danger she perceived and felt the sudden sting of fine glass grit spit into my face.  Then another low ball whiskey glass missile whistled passed my head and collided with the pinball machine.  It too shattered into sand like fragments.  A life blood spilling brawl erupted in a crescendo of splitting wood and broken bones.  The order of the day was bare knuckled fist, flick knives, and broken beer bottle shivs.  Others still yielded bar stools, chairs or pool cues.  I took Lulu’s hand and we sought shelter behind the pinball machines.  Peering out I could see a man yelling and then choking on his own blood.  Then as it began to escalate I saw a man take flight against his will across the bar.  Another was lifted over head, turned over and then limbs dangling, brought crashing down.  From the hallway to the bathroom emerged an undeniable will of might.  The sea of violence parted and as it did, I could see the reason why.  It was my father plowing through the combatants.  Dispatching some as he went along.  Throwing one aside and then smashing another down, not to rise again.  He moved as if everyone else existed in a different plane of time and the destruction in his wake was all they perceived of him.  As sudden as it had sparked, we were free of it.  By good fortune, Lulu only witnessed the commencement of aggressions before we sought shelter and she covered her eyes.  Our father reached us and hoisted us over his shoulders like some superman cape made of pale little kids.  I remember doing my best to shield Lulu with my picayune, lily white arm.  We hung on to each other and his massive neck as he smashed still another fool determined to impede our escape.  Father’s fist disfigured the man’s face as it mashed against the door frame upon our exit.  The door of the slovenly establishment exploded with bits of wood and splintered glass cascading across the San Antonio downtown side walk.  The dad set us down gracefully and dusted the bits of glittering debris from our hair, shoulders, and lapel.  He spoke, "You guys are okay."  The tenor of his voice and the fully magnified grin on his face offered the sensation of warmth, safety, and comfort...  Peace.  

These childhood experiences spared us ever having the doubt.  We were fortified.  We lived in the inner city and despite the routine occurrence of gun shots, screams and emergency sirens; concern for our safety never crossed our minds because, we knew we had peace... Peace with our Father.

Written by Patrick B Oviedo Jr. Circa The late Summer or Early Fall of 2012

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