In the past months you have all asked me questions about filming and I have tried to answer them candidly without hurting other people. I have had many fun times with the film business and I am forever grateful for that “transitioning bridge” in my young life. I was searching for some success, some indulgence to find myself, and was given an extended hand that many never receive or do not recognize in their life cycles. Thank you all…..it was a fun part of my history and in many respects, a defining time as I bounced off the walls of youth! Without that bridge I often wonder what would have happened. One time I wrote a script about being left in Vietnam, called Tell the World We Are Here.
I often think about it.
I am alive and have a family with a future today. Hope and Faith are nurtured in our household and are stimuli for future growth. I have my big refrigerator full of food and another one downstairs with a few frozen items. I have income and I have the ability to create new ways for income in this digital environment. My economics go up and down and I continue to find solutions thus far. I am grateful for my Maker and for my ability to navigate tough and good economic times. I have chased the so called competitive lure of cavalier capitalism and wore the garments of differentiation with ignorant pride. Life Skills were a long path of education for me, as was and is, Purpose!
Recently while I wallowed in my existence, which seems to vacillate from healthy income to none, I thought of my multiple trips to Africa and Mexico. I remember so well in Mexico, the smell of urine, and old plywood and tin shacks that reminded me of the make-shift army forts we built as little boys in Rawlins, Wyoming near the junk yard and Landy Collier’s rented house. We loved to play Army, and play basketball in his empty room with wooden floors and our clothes hanger baskets with a little torn sheet as the basketball net. Of course we announced our charges in our make believe Army units, and we announced our buzzer beater baskets and played poison pots with our favorite marbles. The joy of simple memories and popsicles and tooth picks with cinnamon oil. Landy’s Dad worked at the Creamery so we got ice cream cones often and the cinnamon oil was cheap at the Lil Store down on Sunnyside.
We were dirty, low income, but were blissfully happy and knew that each day would bring a new creative experience in our lives as we romanticized the landscape across the street which was the local junkyard. Our action items were simply go mow a lawn, or wash a car, and take that wonderful ROI and spend it on cinnamon oil. Simple fun, simple rewards, laced with a simple azimuth of qualitative life. My memory is romantic and yet I must address reality today.
Unfortunately, in Mexico, these plentiful makeshift forts were a family’s home. In Africa, it was a mud cave of sorts or a thatched roof to protect one from the very hot sun with little or no water. Flies, dirt and dust with a hope for a meal soon are part of one’s daily routine. One day while working with the corrupt government of Africa, a former UN lady asked if I would mind joining her with a visit to her charity and perhaps I could help. I thought of each time I drove in Africa I was stopped in a car by some guys with AK 47s and they would ask for my passport. Over time I learned that these stops were part of a forced tip, whereby, I would give them a few dollars and they would let me go on down the highway because they now had some money for one meal. I wondered if the Lady and our group would encounter the same thing but wanted to go with her. I said of course I would join her and that I appreciated her invite.
We traveled down some dirt roads in Burkina Faso, Africa. We arrived in the middle of this town where there was a 6’ mud brown wall around a compound with a large gate. We drove into the compound and we waited to see the person in charge and then took a tour. In this tour, each “guest” was assigned a room, which was a mud cave and in front of their cave was a big black open metal pot of sorts which looked like it had never been washed and fire and heat were its only sanitizer as it was crusted with black nuclei of some species. Each time, a lady would crawl out from the luxurious shade of her cave through the dusty and deep dirt, and we would look at each other as our brains processed different data from different cultures. I looked at her, and smiled with conditioned kindness and English taught etiquette. I nodded and said something in French. She stared at my figure, my metaphor. My eyes showed compassion and hope and I asked how she was doing in English since she did not respond to French as many did. She stood, dry, wilted and barely breathing. I wondered if she stared in anger, in disbelief that someone would visit her, in frustration that I would ask such a naïve question standing before her in such clean clothes and clean skin and brushed teeth. Was I a vestige or reality? I stared in disbelief as death seems to parcel energy in very subtle nuances.
Finally, with dead eye, she seemed to muster up the vocal strength in her tribal African tongue with an odorous and raspy utterance that had long been shut down and discarded to rust and decay. Her tattered skin was very black and very cracked and dry. Her strong hands were hands time honored with a tortoise like dehydrated shell. We brought a translator and we talked momentarily. Her eyes were vacuums, deep and without hope or faith. Her soul was dead and without love. Her heart unfortunately continued to beat and her limbs moved accordingly and hesitantly, but her spirit was dead. As I mused, perhaps I hoped, it was not dead, and maybe it was in denial and asleep. Yes, conditioned, the western Anglo’s way of hope and rescue creeped into my logic. She was one of many African Women caught in the time warp of relativity and Justice encumbered by village isolation. The authority in her tribe, the Shaman, often dictated right and wrong from his so called spiritual insights. If there was a death in the tribe and village, the Shaman would gather the people of the tribe and walk from one woman to the other to determine who the Witch was and which woman was responsible for this village death per his feelings at that moment.
Once he determined which Woman he deemed responsible, they were immediately taken from their children, their husband, and their grandparents, and they were told to leave the village and walk to the desert and invite death for their terrible deeds. Tell the World She is Here, I thought….somebody, somewhere, must care? At that moment, reality was illusion and illusion was reality. Justice and definitions seemed to be surreal and juxtaposed over bad dreams and illogical horrors. As I flashed through my psychology vocab cards I laughed at words like cognitive behavior, denial, transference, disorder, bi-polar, ADHD, conflict resolution, anger management, coping skills and other such trite labels we Westerners analyze. The time warp of psychology, justice and relativity? I thought about America and how we put kids in prison for 25 years with a blink of the eye. I thought about the gas chamber and death by lethal injection. I thought about the Catholic Church and its priests.
I wondered what would happen to this woman now? They would never see their children or family again and were sent to their death walk. A few lucky times, this UN lady would rescue these women in the middle of a desert and bring them to live and eat and survive here at this camp. Many others walked to the middle of the desert to die. However, these rescued women in this compound, who were products of local Justice, had no means to do anything, and their eyes reflected the injustice and the deserted vacuum created in their soul as a result of decades of so called life and living. Oh, I continue to marvel at the stark social narrative that some cannot see! Who and what provides vision?
For a quick moment, my mind flashed back to Vietnam while I was there at 19 years old . I often wondered how I ended up in Vietnam, and what if I was captured and left there, would anyone care or do anything? I always knew my country would rescue me as I had sacrificed myself with this dangerous mission for my country and it would reward me for such just like the movies said in the 50s. And yet decades later, my blissful naiveté of a small town hick with hope and faith in truth and government was to be defined and of course, labeled with titles like the Pentagon Papers and others papers Julian Assange would have loved to publish. Special interest and corruption veiled in America…..no way?
I have seen death first hand in my own family multiple times and many times lost people in Vietnam. However, the suffering that we ALLOW to happen with our fellow man on this planet is cold, cavalier and apathetic. I cannot believe that we continue in our bliss as so many people suffer in this country but even more so in other countries. Like most people, I have suffered and have obstacles with my family weekly. I do not talk about the barriers and problems our family endures because I believe we always find a solution in life. It is the monitoring and managing of such a mental condition (finding solutions no matter what) that can be onerous, as I well know. It is the gray area of solutions and the gray definitions that can be encumbering and scarring.
However, this Global Village called Planet Earth with its primal scream is begging us to acknowledge poverty and suffering. It is asking us to monitor the capitalistic treadmill we chase for identity. The Global Village is simply saying…..please help…….please help and wake up the Spirit that is sleeping in someone so you can share your spirit and your love. Yes…..Faith, Hope, and Love. Make your life one of Purpose instead of one with awards, celebrity, lipstick and logos. A purpose driven life! One person, here and there, is one step closer to why WE are here. Yes, I am sorry, and I am grateful, and I sincerely believe in this Purpose.
Spring and its relativity are upon us! I hope you all enjoy your loved ones in this struggle we call Life and I hope we all enjoy the “spirits”! We are the Gardeners and I hope we will water the Flowers! Many Flowers are wilting, if we look across our horizon.
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Copyright 2012 Larry Wilcox