The past gets you tomorrow

She drove to the cemetery. With no experience with the military or even death, really, she drove into the national veteran’s cemetery feeling overwhelmed. Tears hit her at the first site of a bank of white gravestones.

Finally finding the one she sought, she knelt, and tears poured fourth. It wasn’t a man she knew, not in this lifetime anyway. But the emotion was undeniable.

The hate was undeniable, the promise to give other victims a way out.

Her entire life, folks had told her to stay put. That day, crying on the grave of a seeming stranger, she knew why she’d never respected that attitude.

If someone is hurting you, you have two, maybe three choices: kill, sue, or run.

Maybe that explained why America, a country of cowboys used to settling battles with a six-shooter, had become so litigious.

That bastard in grave #930 had long ago given up the privilege to be sued, and so, all that was left was hatred. Looking back at her life, it was hard not to think some forms of hate simply turn your heart to ice.

She drove north to Taos.

A strip mall of tourism, the Southwest commodified, Taos turned her off. She kept driving. Meditation had said, Just go to a town with a Q. Weeping on that grave, she’d thought, just go till you see the metal crescent moon.

She drove to Questa, and went into a shop with a sign that said, “For your Spiritual Journey.” Inside it seemed everything was two or three dollars – talismans, incense, crosses, cards.

There was a wind chime hanging in the window, metal, a crescent moon with Tibetan bells hanging from it.

She bought it and some other trinkets that had long ago lost any value. As the woman rang her up, explaining her nonprofit mission to feed those who had nowhere else to go, she fought the sensation that she was high. She fought the very real sensation that she was two or three feet taller than this woman.

Getting back into her rented truck, with her Tibetan bells, a donation behind her, she put the truck into drive. She didn’t breathe, really, until many miles west, when she stepped her toes into the Rio Grande.

Maybe it’s John Wayne’s ghost, or Dean Martin’s. Maybe you just need water. But the weirdest experiences are baptized – or simply soothed – by water.

You can fight the crazy all day long. But one day you will reach a point where you will realize that sane, as currently defined, is full of shit.

On that day you will dip your toes into the water and you will know the simple truth: Life is unknowable. But you can find joy in trying to know it.

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