October 22, 2008

Santaria and the Desert Dream

I believe in the magic of the desert. The way the sun can make waves of heat on a long stretch of highway appear to be a glistening pool of water; the way a river runs through miles of barren land from deluge to trickling stream, maintaining it’s life sustaining flow to cool the parched earth.

But it was not until I had long since moved away from the vast New Mexican badlands when I came to believe in the powers of the human mind and the magic of Santaria.

I lived in the small town of Carlsbad, famous for It’s underground caverns and subsequently, a spectacular air show put on by some ten thousand bats as they make their impressive departure every night at dusk.

My friend Johnny Rodreguez and I would sit on the bank of the Pacos River and sometimes talk for hours. I was finishing my last year of high school and planned to return to Florida after graduation. Johnny had been out of school for two years and his future was not so clear. He was a very troubled soul, always confiding in me his darkest fears. At the time I had know idea how afraid and alone he really was. He told me many times that his mother never loved him and that he believed she wanted him to die. My reaction was somewhat patronizing. I felt this depression might have something to do with his excessive drinking. But as he began to divulge more and more to me I was no longer so quick do dismiss his behavior.

Josie, Johnny’s mother appeared outwardly to be the upstanding, devout Catholic. Throughout her home were strategically placed Saints and rosary beads. One might be subject to a verbal thrashing (in Spanish) for any blasphemies in her household. But being a frequent visitor, I began to see things that would lead me to question the true nature of her religion.

One such thing was a rope that hung under Johnny’s bed. Tied in it were several knots. The number of knots in the rope were somehow significant, according to Johnny and would change from time to time. He explained to me that it was all part of Black Magic, or what the Mexicans called Santaria. He recalled his mother forcing him as a child to go to the graveyard to collect dirt with his younger brother. Josie would then bury photographs of people, sometimes people he recognized. When I learned of these things I became worried about the emotional and mental effects they might have on Johnny. But it never occurred to me that he might be in any real danger. Tommy, his younger brother seemed to live in a brilliant light illuminated by his mother, unaware of anything out of the ordinary. They were visibly much closer than she and Johnny.

The last time I saw Johnny was about three days before I left for Florida. I was abruptly awakened at three o’clock in the morning by my not-so-understanding step-father. He grumbled that one of my “boyfriends” was downstairs asking for me.

When I opened the door to Johnny’s truck it was obvious that he has been drinking. He began to cry and he told me that he was going to miss me when I left. He was rambling incoherently but I recognized the all to familiar desperation in his tone. I tried to convince him to come inside but as I walked around to his side to help him out of the truck he screeched into reverse and sped away.

Eight months had passed since I left New Mexico. Once I left I made no attempt to stay in contact with Johnny. In fact, I had not thought of him even once. Moving so often as a child I had learned that it was much less painful to cut all ties.

Now, I was hundred miles away from the tumbleweeds and the buckled earth but the mind is a powerful thing and distance proved to be no obstacle in matters of the soul. One night I dreamed I was standing on a caleche road as the morning sun was about to make an appearance over the horizon. Out of the west came a red 57 Chevy truck and as it slowly passed by, I recognized the driver, Johnny’s amigo, Jorge, and on the passenger side, Johnny. As they careened past Johnny looked at me solemnly and almost sadly as though he were an unwilling passenger. The truck continued on down the road into the dimly lit horizon. I turned back toward the west to find the truck coming toward me once again like an instant replay. But this time Jorge sat alone on the passenger side. There was no driver. I remember saying over and over to my dream-self, “Where is Johnny?, Where is Johnny?”

I woke the next morning with no recollection of the dream. I went into the kitchen of my Aunts house where I was living, to make breakfast. The phone rang. Startled, I picked it up quickly. I was surprised to hear my girlfriend’s voice, Suzie Hardin, calling from New Mexico. I could sense that something was amiss from her tone and a poor attempt at small talk. After an uncomfortable silence, she said plainly,
“ Johnny died yesterday.” Suddenly, I remembered my dream and my knees became weak. I sat trans-like, listening to her. She said, according to the newspaper, he had been walking down the hallway of his house carrying his riffle by the barrel, when it “went off”. Well aware of Johnny’s experience handling guns and his cautious nature, I found the story difficult to believe.
His death was reported to be an accident. There was a small write up in the Carlsbad Tribune and no investigation to speak of. The details of his death could be scrutinized and disputed and one might even find that there had actually been foul play but none of these things would bring Johnny back. Regardless of how he died, he believed that it would happen, untimely and undeservingly, and it did. Perhaps there is such a thing as Black Magic, kindled by mere negative suggestions. Perhaps evil is simply a manifestation of our fears, a sort of magic of the mind and soul. I believe Johnny was trying to tell me something that morning, his spirit in limbo, searching for the light. Using the same magic that lead him to his tragic end, in that quiet moment before the sun kissed the sky, he set his spirit free on the desert winds to find me, maybe in a final attempt to be understood, or perhaps just to say goodbye.

October 20, 2008

A Case of Mistaken Identity Solved

Introducing, Cari Kindl. This is no narcissistic attempt to be known in the world but a clarification for the particular ones who mistakenly assume to know me based on what they knew of me in years gone by. I wish to relieve those who are taken aback by my surprising behavior. It is like tuning in to a Soap Oprah that you have not seen in thirty years to find the simple maid is now the madam of the manor. In this case I was the soft-spoken and impressionable girl influenced by an imbalanced male-dominated society who found a voice and courage that has impassioned me and inspired me to speak and work to dissolve the self and nurture oneness.

Who really cares about me and who I am? Perhaps only the friends and family and this is nice but there is no need to be loved and revered by the world to feel complete or worthy. I know I am loved and this love gives me strength but this is not reason for being. Some never experience love or peace but are full of love and peace. Just as those who are blessed with a loving family and wealth can be prone to self-loathing and destructive behavior. The reason we are here is to experience and to understand the world for ourselves through our own changing perspectives. It is not as important to be accepted and loved, as it is to create and share and love. It is not to know what to do based on other's beliefs and rules but to find our own voice and path through creative freedom.

The more I live and learn I see that my identity, character and accomplishments are meaningless when we move beyond being socially accepted and into the realm of egoless-ness and peace. I have sat with lamas in sacred temples and I have partied in Las Vegas but I am no ascended master nor am I a deviant. I do not qualify as an expert in any political or religious domain but I feel and see the world with my heart, mind and my intuition. All I can do at any given moment is share with the interested my views according to the memories and the moment that I am in at that time and hope that it is useful to someone in some way.

Though I possess the skills I so not call myself a barber or a musician or a writer. I practice the fundamental disciplines of self control outlined by Gautam Buddha, but I do not call myself a Buddhist. I understand and subscribe to the Gnostic teachings of a man referred to as the Christ although I know that these teachings were not intended to glorify the man but to educate humans on their ability to ascend and evolve through balance. I have beliefs but I do not cling to them so verdantly that I am driven to aggression.

I have traveled around the world experiencing many different cultures and lifestyles. I have received love and kindness from those in foreign places who are said to hate Americans. And I have seen proof of the horrific acts by our own countrymen on innocent victims. Being an American these experiences gave me the objectivity to see beyond borders and race and country. It has shaped who I am and given a sense of obligation to find my voice on behalf of those who do not wish to play the game. I am relief. I am understanding. I am a witness to justice and an advocate of truth. I am hope and I am a creative force to be reckoned with.

Rather than be a celebrated participant I choose to stand back and watch the world quietly, not silently but knowing that I have the power to change it in every action I take from a word to a smile. Very little is required from me and yet I see how great an affect I have in every small way. I will not be a CEO or the president. I do not have to be nor do I wish to be a millionaire. My kingdom truly is mind. To sum it up, I simply am. So in regard to all of your misconceptions, labels, presumptions and for being insulted or slighted, mistaking my candor and enthusiasm for truth as rudeness, if you were expecting your own version of the girl you used to know, with love and compassion I am happy to disappoint you.