Freedom Talk Is Cheap, Especially When People Don’t Want To Be Free (and Flashback #2 Touched)

Picture 008Faust’s Redemption

Exam Final ’77 Concluded

Faust was ambitious, and as such, he set himself an ambitious task—to create a free country for free people. “The deed is all, the glory not,” became his battle cry. He was faced with a very difficult problem: How do you free people who don’t want to be free? Faust knew that “freedom talk” was cheap. People always wanted security more than freedom. Even our own Thomas Jefferson knew that securing life went before securing freedom in the pursuit of liberty.

Faust’s plan showed genius. His solution would not only make people appreciate freedom, it would also provide them with the conditions necessary to preserve that freedom. If you can’t take the people to the Mothers, you bring the Mothers to the people. Faust proposed a project, and the people responded. He set them the task to carve land from the sea. Hard work was required, but land was the reward. Eventually, with enough reclaimed land, the people could establish their own independence. They would create their own country.

For Faust, further benefits, unbeknownst to the people, would transpire. By securing land from the sea, by orchestrating a system of dykes and dyke maintenance, the conditions would be put in place that would not only permit freedom— it would demand it. Ultimately, the hard work and vigilance necessary to see such a major project through to completion would teach people that life and freedom were to be equally valued. Faust knew that freedom was never free. Teaching that lesson to others was his great success, and a free land for free people was his great vision realized. But, even with all that success, there was still unfinished business to attend to.

His accomplishments spanning horizon to horizon, Faust, now an old man, was all but ready to say to the moment, “Abide! You are so fare, stay, remain for eternity,” and with those words he would have sealed his fate and sold his soul to the devil, but he hesitated. He hesitated because his vision was not yet fully realized. Two of his subjects, a husband and wife of many years, lived within the sound of the bell of the Church. Faust knew that all who remained within that sound also remained subject to the dictates and rules of the Church. Acting on Faust’s orders, Mephistopheles and his lieutenants went to remove the old couple from their land. The relocation of the old man and woman was necessary to avoid conflict with the Church. With the couple out of the way, Faust would secure the undisputed deed to the territory he claimed for his kingdom. Of course, the old couple could not be persuaded to leave their home and they fought the eviction. In the scuffle, Faust’s lieutenants murdered them. Their unjust deaths were not the first to stain the hands of Faust, but they were the last.

Even though Faust had not intended to murder the couple, he held himself responsible, and this guilt eventually culminated in his denial of care and his rejection of Mephistopheles. For this disobedience, “the powers that reigned,” blinded Faust. “Deep night now seems to fall more deeply still. Yet inside me there shines a brilliant light. What I have thought, I hasten to fulfill.” Faust could no longer see his kingdom, but his inner vision remained intact. Faust, now at death’s door, accepted his fate. In anticipation of his death, Mephistopheles waited with outstretched hands for the release of his soul. The soul should have been on its way to Hell, or at least so thought the devil. But, slipping through Mephistopheles’ fingertips, Faust’s soul was lifted up to Heaven instead, and a dark shadow fell over Goethe’s reputation. [Faust’s salvation (Faust Part Two) was posthumously published. It caused a stir at the time, but Goethe’s reputation totally recovered.]

In the end, the right use of power, the deed, and knowledge brought Faust salvation and Goethe’s lifelong project to a close. Where love, beauty and form meet, enlightenment cannot be far behind, but it might be a stretch to attribute that to Faust. I don’t know. I’ll have to give it more thought!

I experienced a beautiful sunrise, which inspired me to write this poem on the morning after writing my Faust exam:

Sunrise

A heavy frost,

crisp refreshing air,

the end of a night’s work.

Standing aloof,

glancing toward the sky,

another sunrise.

Another sunrise indeed,

a crimson miracle,

uncovering sublime emotion.

What to do,

run, find yourself a high perch,

the top of Brooks Hall.

Mesmerized,

A timeless moment,

splendor unsurpassed.

Watching the sky unfold,

transfixed in a living aura,

transposed into one sensation.

Life energy becomes fluid,

synonymous with beauty,

everything becomes beautiful.

Listless, yet attending,

attention turns inside out,

object and subject cease to be.

Flashback #2 — Touched (From my 1972 bicycle trip— Michigan to West Coast)

Wyoming

May 29

Every morning brought with it wind and rain. In order to continue, I had to enter into an agreement with myself, “If I could peddle faster than I could walk I would continue to bike.” After making that pact, I experienced times when I couldn’t make up my mind. I never quit, though.

Yesterday, I was wet and blown dry four different times. In the afternoon, right after I reached Gillette, I said, “Fuck it.” I decided to hitchhike with my bike. First though, I got some food at a restaurant and, after that, I found that the wind had let up a bit. I decided to try and make Buffalo, another 69 miles west. Around 4 p.m. the rain stopped, but the wind picked up. When I reached Powder River around 5 p.m. and went into the one stop gas station (one stop because it only had one gas pump), the lady who owned the place invited me into her trailer for coffee (the trailer was both the gas station and her home). While I was there, one of her friends offered to give me a lift to Buffalo.

I climbed in the back of his pickup truck and began my 31mile coast all the way into Buffalo. During my short, but very much appreciated ride, I wanted to scream blasphemies at Aeolos (god of the winds), but I thought better of it. I had the driver drop me off at the city park. Once I found out that I could crash in the park, and after I got my bike ready for the next day’s climb up the Big Horn Mountains, I went looking for a bar that served food. I needed to break a twenty-dollar traveler’s check, so I figured if I ordered big, I could accomplish two things at once. On the street, I met this dude, and we went into the only bar open on Sunday. Once inside, we sat with his friend who was already there.

These guys took an instant liking to me. They told me my money was no good as long as I stayed with them, and they kept their promise. When I went to the bathroom, in between one of the many Coors’ beers that I drank, the bartender took me aside and said, “Did you know that your drinking buddy is a faggot and the other one is a mental case?” They both seemed like nice fellows to me. When they wanted me to leave the bar with them, I politely declined. Instead, I went back to the park and crashed (I was ready to crash anyway). Actually, I thought the bartender was the one that was a little nuts, but why take chances? By then it was raining, so back at the park, I put the baseball dugout to use. The wooden bench was hard but dry. In the morning I found a café where I ate an omelet and watched the Memorial Day Parade through the storefront window. It was a short parade.

I’m going to cash my check now, and then start my climb up the Big Horns. They tell me that after another 49 miles I will reach a 10,066-foot mountain pass. Yesterday, if you include my 31-mile truck ride, I covered 100 miles.

May 30, ‘72

My first 6,600 feet up wa
sn’t too bad. It took me most of yesterday to climb that high. The first eight miles was almost straight up, but after that it evened out a bit. The traffic was light, so it felt like I was up in the mountains alone, and I really liked that. I passed a couple of nice looking trout streams, but I didn’t stop until I got higher up. Around
3 p.m. I found a stream and started to fish. I fished the rest of the day and into the night. I only caught one little Brook trout.

At first I thought I wasn’t catching fish because I wasn’t using a commercial fishing pole (I had sent my collapsing pole home with everything else), then I happened upon a couple of fisherman and showed them the “stick” that I caught my trout on. They just smiled. They hadn’t caught any fish either. I ate my fish for dinner along with some dried cereal sprinkled with raisins. It was delicious. I can’t wait to get to a place where I can eat trout all the time. It sure is an emotional trip up here in the mountains.

To be continued…

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4 Responses to “Freedom Talk Is Cheap, Especially When People Don’t Want To Be Free (and Flashback #2 Touched)”

  1. subra Says:

    Sunrise is always a beauty ;
    It brings a new day to everyone .
    No one left behind
    And no one is denied the day’s light .
    It is with us – the choice
    To find the light ;
    Or to grope in the darkness .
    Sunrise will give a new meaning to life
    Each day – to remove the fear of yesterday .
    Sun rises every day
    To raise the hope in everyone .

  2. wings Says:

    “object and subject cease to be”…perfect balance beyond balance. No need to balance the harmony of the one and all. I have no idea what that really means but I feel it. Idea of no subject and no object; no need for definition of time. I have a friend who talks about when you no longer use a bridge. And he is not talking about jumping or flying. I think it is more along your lines. object and subject dissolving and the fluid lines of universal acceptance. Oh Dave, thank you for this. Not wanting to dissect anything. Just trying to respond and share all that this stirs in me. Can’t speak it but am moved and stirred by it. Thank you.

  3. dave Says:

    Thank you very much for your comments. Beauty, yes, we need to be reminded of it all the time. What else inspires change? I know about the bridge. I think about it all the time. I use it. I am still trying to find out where it leads. I have no desire to leave it behind. It connects me (us) to the work that needs to be done. Thanks so much for the thought.

    Take care,
    dave

  4. wings Says:

    You say this and I think…of the bridge that saved my life. Thank you for the reminder and the grounding. About the work. Looking forward to more from you. Take care.

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