The euphonious spirit of Miles Davis must have found his way into el viento on this fine late winter morn here in Chuk-son. A jazz symphony performed by a dozen wind chimes permeates every cell, tickles a quadrillion brain synapses, and thrills my bones to the marrow. Even my newly made friends the hummingbirds seem to enjoy the Afro-Arizonan fusion rhythms. More commonly known as Tucson, Chuk-son was the name given to my new home by the ancient resident O’odham inhabitants of this particular part of the Sonoran Desert. Loosely translated as “village of the dark spring at the base of the mountain”, Chuk-son has grown from village into full blown city. Not your average American city, mind you. More like a small central Mexican Ciudad than anywhere else I’ve been within the belly of the beast…with a touch of sanity and, yea verily, friendly humanity, uncommon in the asphalt and concrete jungles of most of the U.S. of A. Ed Abbey spent his last years here in the lush but blisteringly harsh desert he loved so well, and still decomposes out there somewhere in an unmarked grave. Noam Chomsky recently left the hustle and bustle of the northeastern reaches of this land to find a niche on staff at The U of A. And I finally decided that my particular brand of unabashed dissidence fits in here much better than it did in the staunchly conservative, wealthy, Mercedes-driving, tanning salon, and liposuction capital of the Southwest; Maricopa County, Arizona.
“…as a friend of mine once said, If I regret anything, it is my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?”
A month or so ago I loaded the U-Haul truck with my worldly possessions and drove the potholed, busy stretch of Interstate 10 about 130 miles south by southeast, via the 101 and 202, into the foothills of the Tucson Range, and within spitting distance of the Mexican border with Nogales, Sonora (if you can spit seventy miles). Last year was a bit of a bitch for me. Buried my mom in New Mexico and my whole family erupted into irreconcilable feud. A few months later my wife of forty years succumbed to a nightmarish combination of dementia and lung cancer as I tended to her insatiable and delusional needs, finally dying with the aid of hospice and morphine, as I watched helplessly. So with little left to lose, I decided to make every effort to patch up some serious damage wrought to the most innocent of victims in my careless youth, hoping to make right my one huge, inexcusable regret and mistake thus far in my seventy years of existence. And that is what my recent migration to Chuk-son was all about. A last shot at redemption and golden opportunity to die wearing a smile of peace, ease, and contentment.
Soul brother and confidant Jim Parker recently told me that I’m on a hero’s journey, and it wasn’t until this morning when I stumbled upon the works of Joseph Campbell that I understood what he meant. Evidently I was the last living, semi-literate person on earth unfamiliar with Joe Campbell. Whether or not my personal trials and tribulations, atonement and triumphs have amounted to a hero’s journey is of little consequence here. But it did get me to thinking about the relative strengths of the pen and the sword (or the HP Laptop and the nuclear missile), and all the true heroes I’ve met since I began writing for such upstanding bastions of truth and justice as The Greanville Post and Dissident Voice. In the depths of despair during the deaths of loved ones, I abandoned my own true hero’s journey, ceased writing, discontinued paying any attention to the crimes of Empire, the deep state, the military/industrial complex, and all the usual suspects, turning my back on the very issues I cared about most deeply. In retrospect this may have been my second inexcusable regret and mistake. The decision didn’t even give me any peace of mind, didn’t stop the anger and rage, didn’t ease the pain of knowing that the crimes against humanity and the assault of Pachamama continued unabated and with growing acceleration.
Back in 1971, in the preface to his true life wilderness adventure book, “Beyond the Wall”, Ed Abbey wrote these words that have become more urgent each year since then: “What we need now are heroes. And heroines. About a million of them. One brave deed is worth a thousand books. Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul. Or as a friend of mine once said, If I regret anything, it is my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?” The true heroes I’ve met during my tenure as an untrained (gonzo) journalist are the best of the best. They publish and write far outside the acceptable limits of the deep state, and know well that they are vulnerable as potential victims if their voices are too widely heard and heeded. They all know too well that if the decision is made to silence them, they’d damn well better summon some super powers and learn to fly at the speed of light. Those of whom I speak are fearless, for they’d each rather live free than die as slaves. ‘Tis an act of true bravery to shine lights where they are officially prohibited.
This is a love letter to those mostly far away friends who’ve continued the quest for truth, justice, and peace on earth while I let my computer gather dust in a corner. A love letter to hero publishers, writers, poets, anarchists, activists, hippie-beatnik-freaks, and all those who dare peer beneath the veil and tell about it. A love letter going out to, among other places, New York, Newfoundland, Australia, France, Italy, China, and Japan. “The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.” said old Cactus Ed Abbey. Speaking truth to power takes some serious balls or ovaries, and the optimistic tiny part of me only dares hope that our numbers are growing. A love letter to those who dare to love and embrace life in a world of fear, borders, walls, and non-stop violence; who dare to plant the seeds of truth and watch them bear fruit. A love letter to those who sing loudly, and whose songs reach more receptive ears each hour of every day. A love letter to those million heroes, all walking separate paths, leading to a brighter tomorrow. You are my heroes.
Hasta la victoria siempre!