All posts by Mark Rushing

A Dream of Spiritual Death

Cycle of Life and Death

Last night I dreamed I was on the bottom floor of a house, or maybe it was a department store.

I was walking up the stairs, or coming up the escalator, and it was bright, and I was happy.

I arrived on a floor, the third floor, and it was pure darkeness – and this floor was my kitchen. Pitch blackness. I could feel the railing behind me, my way of escape, but I was there, and I knew something was in that darkness.

It was distant, and I wondered, then realized it had no physical form.

It was moving toward me in pieces, in tendrils of maleficent being. I heard a very faint laugh, a woman’s laugh, a sweet giggle of pure madness.

I saw nothing – but felt the tentrils form into a blackened head, which moved swiftly toward my own. I remained, and did not run. There was no fear.

She touched her forehead against my own, and I saw a vision of a blackened third eye, and a bindi, like a clitoris, and darkened skull.

It came into me, pointedly, and I accepted it. It passed into a great expanse, like the arch of the blue and clouded sky, that surrounded, filled and encompassed my interior – a vast area, yet so much unexplored – yet familiar.

It became so small – a tiny bucket of poison thrown into a boundless ocean, deepening beneath a boundless sky.

I sang to her in welcome, feeling her Will, as she dissolved into the air.

Freedom vs. Security – Where Do We Draw the Line?

I must admit, I have not been following this issue closely. I think that is true for most people. But I’ve come to realize more and more that this issue is a fundamental one of our time – a determining factor on how we will continue to evolve together.

I have heard debates, mostly on talk radio, and a very few on the net, about the recent powers the US Government has granted itself after the terrorist attacks on September 11th. What I have heard should in no way be construed as what is actually out there – I have not researched the visibility of the issue at all.

It is very easy for us to make excuses and concessions related to the sacrifice of fundamental personal freedoms and rights in the interest of helping to avert any such similar, or even worse catastrophies in the future. To encourage, or allow to foster a more powerful police state that has the authority, if not the legal authority, to not only usurp our individual and collective Rights, but to commit acts of inhumanity in the purported interest of our larger well-being, is something to strongly consider – in the public eye and with the public’s voice.

Right now, people can be taken away, held indefinitely, given no legal counsel, interrogated in any number of ways, and even have evidence withheld that would exonerate them – all upon a whim, requiring no process whatsoever.

Is this happening? Yes.

We look back in history to our “McCarthy Era” and feel shame – how could we as a nation, and collectively as individuals, allowed such horrific things to occur? Well, it might be a good idea to start asking that question now, instead of waiting for historians to ask it decades from now – assuming they can (in a worst case scenario).

It’s strange – I’ve had friends say things jokingly on their cell phones about possible terrorist occurances, and how it might ruin their trip to the theater, or their dinner plans, then quickly qualify what they just said as a joke to appease the perfunctory judgements and actions of any listening, covert parties.

When considering what we’ve been told about airport security – how even joking can mean getting detained and questioned, even this speech on a cell phone may be cause for grave concern.

Today, while reading articles on security issues related to Linux, I ran across an article posted on the Free Internet Press:

Supreme Court Takes Up Guantanamo Case

It was the first I had learned that the issue was coming before the Supreme Court. This astonished me. I visited the article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, and became even more astonished:

Democracy’s chance

Thinking I may be further out of touch with media buzz than I previously imagined, I checked CNN to see what was being said about this monumental occurance. I could find next to nothing. I searched elsewhere, though superficially, and found so very little.

I did happen to find an article in CNN that came out today, most likely in response to the Guardian article cited above:

UK slams U.S. Guantanamo trials

But the only article I could find in CNN’s archives, was a passing reference in late April:

Supreme Court to hear Gitmo appeals

How is it that we do no feel compelled to voice our concerns about a State that can do whatever it wants to its own citizens? How is it that we can claim to go to war in the name of Freedom, while at the same time eroding its very core?

Do we really, all of us, feel so trapped?

Yes, we must do our very best to make certain attacks never occur within our country again. And yes, it would be so nice if no attacks occurred all around the world!

But times like these are very trecherous – in more than one way. We must be mindful of ourselves, our leaders, and particularly mindful of our own hearts and minds.

Married Men Who Aren’t Gay

Lately I’ve been a member of this online group for men that deals in support for men who are in heterosexual marriages, yet they are gay, or bisexual. I joined because I wanted to understand better what was going on with myself, and another man I have been involved with who was married.

At first I went in with great fascination – amazed at how many men were in this situation, or wanted to be in it. They call it a “closed-loop” relationship – where a married guy commits to a relationship with another married guy – or, less preferably, a single gay or bi man.

Whether or not they tell their wives is not important to most. The issue is, in fact, considered taboo in the group because it generates such heated words from people. The strange thing is, it’s always the guys who don’t feel they need to tell their wives that do all the shouting, even at guys that merely talk about how they have told their wives, and the various things that have happened. I think these men must feel a very strong pressure of guilt, and twist the other men’s testimonials about coming out to their wives into an accusation that they are horrible people for not doing the same.

This issue certainly is a very ethically complex one, particularly when children are involved.

Oddly enough, the majority of the men seem to be in their fifties, though there is a large splattering of ages. But they are certainly in the majority. Most have waited until their children have grown up and left the home. Most want to keep their family in tact, though some are very torn on the issue.

Of particular interest is the way they identify themselves sexually. Some men say they are gay, but they are in the minority. Most men say they have been curious, or “having these feelings of attraction”. Most do say that they’ve had those feelings for a very long time.

They are much more likely to identify themselves as bisexual, which would stand to reason, I suppose, considering their predicament.

Yet I wonder, why is it they feel so heavily compelled to act on homosexual desires, and risk so much, if they are bisexual? Almost all of them have a very deep fear of being exposed. Something is just not right in this.

Recently, a man posted that he’s changed his mind – that he just can’t deal with the “homosexual lifestyle” – and that he and his wife just had amazing sex, chandeliers swinging, etc. And that they were moving. And also, was there any man in the group who happened to live near to where they were moving…

Many feel that they need to only be with another married man – that this man would be the only man who could could understand that their families have to come first. But I know this isn’t true, based upon my own experience – I would often remind my “friend” that his family had to come first, not me.

I think, rather, that they need someone who they can remain straight with, even though they have sex together. If they are with a gay man, that means they have to admit they are gay – or at least bisexual. But if they are with another married man, then they can both remain straight. After all, you’re not gay if you’re married.

Some of the men have wonderful stories of how they told their wife everything, and their wives, though not at first, have grown to become supportive, and even allow them to have a male partner. They see little conflict.

But there are also stories of how the wife refused to accept it, and promised that she would leave with the children if he ever acted on it.

And most of the men choose to sneak. They will actually pine on about how wonderful their male counterparts are – the part of their lives that they so look forward to. And the ones that don’t have a male counterpart have no problem pining on about their dream of it, either.

The interesting thing is seeing new people join the group, who are younger – who have just entered into marriage, or who are considering it.

I wish there was some way to help them understand that they must enter into their own lives, fully as who they are, before they enter into the life of another.

I actually feel very sorry for most of these men – the majority are not happy at all. They are trapped, in their ideal dream, and/or in their hiding place. But that’s not to say that the rest of their lives is diminished – but it is to say that sexual intimacy – spiritual intimacy – is very fundamental to the core of our being. And theirs is messed up – for lack of the time to type any more…

I hope that my friend find happiness in his life. But I’m a little more than reasonably sure that he may just find mere satifaction, if he is lucky.

It’s too bad that fear can conquer love in some men.

Warm hugs

Innocence Lost

A Strange Memorial

A few years ago, when the internet was first starting to creep into the lives of the huddled masses, I was helping to build an ISP locally here, in the Greater Puget Sound area. We focused on the human side of things – a vision of the individual becoming empowered by this emerging technological wonder that had the potential to bypass, and even erode, many of the traditional power structures we have all lived within. A re-invention, in a way, of the printing press.

I loved working with all the crazy people out there – helping to get them set up with internet access. Most were technically saavy at the time, but there was a growing number of people who thought the internet was just very cool, and there were even a few grandmas and grandpas coming on.

I got to know my customers very well. When a customer calls for help, you have a connection via telephone into their lives – you hear all manner of things going on in the background. And when you visit their houses to help, you learn even more. I never charged them when they fed me. 🙂

I can remember seeing a couple’s names together on their checks, and then I receive checks with just one of their names – and when I ask them about it, they’re surprised. Many outsiders would say it’s invading their privacy, but it was a testament to their belief in our sincerity that they were always grateful when we noticed the little things about their lives, and took the time, and even moreso had the interest, in hearing what they had to say, or feel.

It was always a difficult thing when a customer would not pay – or got too far behind. You learn a good deal about people when you run a business. The variety is staggering. I never knew how to approach them about paying they money they owed – I almost felt guilty for taking it from them in the first place, but we needed to pay our bills so that we could keep offering them the good connectivity.

One day I noticed that a customer – one of my very first – had gotten over three months behind in his payments. I emailed him over the course of two more months, but never received a reply. I found it very hard to believe he would do this. I tried phoning him, but his phone had been disconnected. His userid was “fuzzyguy”.

We gave our users free webspace with their account, and I went to it to see if I might learn anything – perhaps his new telephone number, or an alternate email address. But I found something quite different.

Long before “blogs” were even conceived, fuzzyguy was keeping a journal online. He was a man suffering from AIDS, very poor, very adorable to see, and incredibly honest and brave in his words. He sounded very alone, but detailed his experiences without anger or blame – but most certainly with frustration at his decaying body.

One entry I remember in particular, which described a cancer that had formed in the back of his mouth, and was growing up into his brain. He was going through radiation treatment and chemotherapy, whenever he could somehow get money together. He described how it felt, and how he was feeling. And he always tried to remain positive, though the doom of his situation tinged the fringes of all he spoke.

The entries ended, suddenly, a few months previously. And I felt guilty, not so much for having wanted money from him, but because he was going through all this, and he was right there, and I had no idea. I wish still there were some way that I could have gotten to know him – to help, in whatever stupid way I could.

I thought he might have died. I had no address for him but a PO Box.

As I mentioned, I kept in close contact with my customers, even though there had grown to be thousands by this time. I would send out broadcast emails to them from time to time, announcing changes or possible downtimes, and always included personal things that many business people consider inappropriate, but which I know these people loved, because they were incredibly loyal customers – they never left.

So I sent out a message to them all – pointing them to fuzzyguy’s website, and asking if any of them were friends of his, or knew him – that I was worried, and explained why.

I started receiving many replies back talking about how awful his situation was, but none said they knew him. Two days later, though, I received a telephone call from a KOMO News Radio host, who apparently was one of my customers. She offered to try helping, and the next day I was interviewed about him on the airwaves of Seattle. I didn’t even know why I wanted to get ahold of him so badly – but I think it was mostly because I needed to know if he was alive still, and if he wasn’t, I thought that maybe his family or friends would want to have this incredibly intimate account the last few years of his life.

That afternoon, I received a phone call from a nurse at Bailey Bushay House, which was a homey medical organization to help people AIDS and cancer. Apparently fuzzyguy had died a few months prior. I asked her if she could contact his family or friends so that they could have a copy of his journals, and she said she would do her best, but we never heard from any of them.

So here I had the journals of a stranger – an obviously very kind, sensitive, intelligent, good looking, strong, and incredibly isolated young man. No family claimed them. No friends claimed them. I wondered if I might have every been snappy with him when he called for technical support.

I put them up, back in his website, and left them there, meaning for them to remain for all time.

That was several years ago. I sold out of that nice little ISP when it became apparent that the phone companies were doing their very best to crush the little people. And within the last few days, and many years after never even thinking about fuzzyguy, I am reminded of him as I begin this online journal. And that same sadness comes back.

I just checked, and his site is no longer there. The purchasing company must have deleted it – his memory and writings chewed up and lost in the whir of Industry. I suppose it is possible I have it, buried deeply in the many dark corridors of data from years past. I will have to look. And if I do, I’ll bring it back – though why, I don’t really know.

And I’m left thinking, of all the people out there, who feel so isolated and alone in what you’re going through – you must believe there are others who still care, even though you may be complete strangers. I wish fuzzyguy would have talked to me, and told me he felt so alone. Such a simple thing – a thing that we almost all feel – and yet it’s somehow the most difficult thing to say.

I hope I can find his last few writings.