Entrances and Exits

Here's the come and go of it!

Back in, Leaving Bloomington, Indiana

indent spacerArrived, September 10, 1999, let me call it the UMPTEENTH time...LOL!!! For the UMPTEENTH + 1 time, I left October 7, 2001. This page will feature a short account of getting BACK to what has been the "alpha base" of my life, fair Bloomingtunes, tongues...G.F.E.T.E....getting OUT and living to tell the tale.

indent spacerI got to Bloomington on September 10, 1999, after a relocation trip to the "beta base" of my life Berkeley, California, proved to be untenable...I'd anticipated the possibility , before leaving Indiana in mid-August, and had purchased a return ticket in advance for all of $59. The old-fashioned hand-written coupon tickets of Greyhound are good for travel ninety days after purchase and then expire, so I simply thought of it as insurance - my fail-safe escape hatch...

indent spacerI had all of 35 cents, a quarter of which I found in the last rest stop before Indianapolis on the way south from Chicago. I'd made arrangements to stay the first few nights with someone I called before I left California...My first call, no one home...I was sitting wondering what to do next - I had some heavy luggage - when a good buddy, who'd actually gave me couch space coming and going before, walked into the depot. He was on his way north to a God-father's wake that week-end. He asked how I was. I replied great in that I'd made it back safely, and poorly in that I had no idea if my encouchment for the night would pan out. Then he said, I'll give you the key to my place for the week-end. All you have to do is be there on Monday when I get back. I'd begun reading Zen Lessons, the Zen Art of Leadership, so I was in a meditative mood, and now I had a hermitage for 3 days...Rest and Recuperation in solitude. Suddenly, the first fellow I called showed up with his van to take me to his place. Quickly, he agreed to drive me to my offer for the week-end. I dropped off the stuff, except for my guitar and hardly go-anyplace-without-it back pack...I chose to go to my favorite coffee house, the Runcible Spoon The owner gave me a sight for sore eyes look, and informed me he had some people in his downstairs breakfast lunch kitchen leave suddenly, did I mind doing dishes and bus-ing tables over the week-end? Mind? Does a leopard have spots? Of course I didn't mind!

One wonders -will one's own death have people
crossing paths in such fortuitous ways?
Who knows how the warp and the woof
of our lives are woven by the Weaver?


indent spacerWhen I made the choice to return to Indiana, I knew I might have to avail myself of the county shelter, which is housed in the Community Kitchen building...I wouldn't have enough cash to rent immediately, and didn't want to prevail upon friends for floor space or a couch too long...so, I rotated through 3 households, as I began my restaurant job , interviewed for the shelter, and had the Police background check (they've had perpetrators on the lam hide there...) done, took only what I needed to the facility, and began dwelling there around the 24th of September....my approach was to assume the place had been a Zen monastery which had fallen on hard times and was working with the state to house homesless people....I kept to myself, did my chores, observed the house rules and curfew, and continued to read the The Art of Zen Leadership book. As I read various masters of Zen from the Song Dynasty (10-13th Century CE) talk about their times in the light of those earlier masters they revered from the Tang Dynasty (7-9th Century), I realized, that despite all the truly fantastic elements of technological advance in the interim, humanity in modern times was virtually unchanged regarding the need to collectively awaken from our slumbers...

Here's a note I made back then, from my journal book:

Shelter is a tool,
Like a knife - must pay attention!
It can "cut"
Yet have to keep it sharp!

(Any blade worth making cuts both ways)


indent spacerAlso, I employed my mantra/yogic breathing in moments of stress, at work and at "home"....Let the Burden BE Lifted, May The Healing CONTINUE. Being of good cheer can be a lifesaver in a world that mopes so miserably when there's no money handy...After all I had a job, I simply needed to save up some cash for rent and deposit.

indent spacerAfter about two weeks, I met the daughter of two friends active in Monroe County's Community Theatre group...she was directing George Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra. I suggested I'd be getting active again because I had a day hours job and could contemplate trying out...before I could say once I moved into my own dwelling from the shelter, she told me they cast was still looking for a bit player to be a centurion/soldier. It was then I told her about the shelter. Yet there wasn't any real reason why I couldn't take the part....the staff was delighted to give me permission to stay out past the curfew for that reason!

indent spacerThe whole time I was looking for rooming addresses...finally, After I had over 400 saved up, I connected with the manager of a rooming house I'd resided in several times before...arrangments were made! The day I got back to the shelter after signing a lease (It'd be 3 more days before I could move in), I turned the page in the Zen Lessons book and found #92 awaiting me. I will quote it in it's entirety...since that day, I've been "darning the patchwork robe"...

DEEP AND SHALLOW
Fojian said:
indent spacerMy late teacher Wuzu said that his teacher Baiyun was open and clear, without any defensive facades. Whenever he would see some duty that should be done, he would jump up and lead the way. He liked to bring out the wise and the able, and disliked those who joined and left people for opportunistic reasons. He sat upright all day in a single chair, untrammeled by anything. *
indent spacerHe once said to an attendant, "To keep the Way, resting at ease in poverty, is the basic lot of the wearer of the patchwork robe. Those who change their devotion because of destitution or success, gain or loss, are simply not yet worthy of talking to about the Way."
* my emphasis - Jesse

indent spacerThis is from a compilation gathered in China in the 12th Century CE, and first translated into Japanese in 1279:
ZEN LEADERSHIP - translated by Thomas Cleary
Pub. by Shambhala, 1993

indent spacerI took the opportunity to officially move out of my bunk to one of the households I'd temporarily couched at, in order to put some space between that and my first night in my own room....the move went smoothly, not interrupting work or rehearsal for the play...the play went well, it got good reviews, I got to play a Roman soldier with a short sword action scene, which is a real stretch for an advocate of non-violence, yet it was theatre, which suspends judgement, and depicts the Karmic WHEEL in its entirety.

Upon much reflection, I need to ask,
Are people HOME-less? Or, is it more accurate
To say - as Bob Dylan does - "no Direction HOME"?
Not to quibble at all, I know when you're exhausted
from lugging all you still need to call your own with you
that one doesn't have the luxury of thoughtful distinctions like these...
Please visit my HomeLESSness page for some further thoughts.

indent spacerI'm hoping this account of Getting BACK (...Jo Jo, LOL!) will be helpful to those who need to make moves in dire circumstances. Whether you're darning or walking in the Way you feel the curvature of the Earth beneath your feet, it's still the same - ONE STITCH/STEP AT A TIME!





On The Art of Leaving...in STYLE!

In which the reader may find the key
to walking happily out of some door, for goodness' sake...

indent spacerI'm writing this in the spirit of Julius "GROUCHO" Marx's immortal greeting/fare well, more than likely said to whatever character Margaret Dumont was playing in whatever Marx Brothers movie it comes from:

"Hello, I must be going!

Actually, it's
Animal Cracker's
originally a Vaudeville show...

indent spacerI was fortunate in September for knowing a month ahead of time, that I would be moving out of my rooming house in Bloomington, Indiana. I had acquired most of the items I "stuffed" my room with in two years' time in second hand sortees, or during the mass exodus week in COLLEGETOWN, USA, when lamps, chairs, bookcases, virtually you-name-it, reserving my money for purchases like the second hand pc deal with a long-time friend who left Bloomington in 2000. (Call me the busking bricoleur, you can put tunes and songs together out of what the wind brings you..snippets of sound and intimations of meaning, if you will.)

indent spacerI would be leaving with with no more than 2 luggage rack pieces on the bus, my guitar in a hard shell case, and a back pack for the overhead rack on the bus. The challenge was to stay happy discarding things, being the last to possess something before the dump, basically.

indent spacerSo, I took books to the county library Tuesday sale, some CDs too, A six point buck antler found a welcome home - I found the antler across the street from my house under a tree. Tamborine and a phone went to the same guy. Many documents, song folios cassette tapes, and books I sent to my host in Oregon. I paced myself from week to week, and it paid off...The owner of the rooming house offered me a pro-rated day by day deal for the week in October before my 30 day pass would kick in. All in All the pieces fit together quite fluidly. I was determined to be as Zen about it as I could. I've walked over two miles on a railroad track without stepping off - it's a question of balance is it not?

indent spacerWhere does it all lead? Like the Grateful Dead sang, "Arizona, New York...it's all the same street! Truckin', got my chips cashed in..." In my thousands of miles coming and going I've learned one thing: No matter where I go, there I AM...the road always leads back to YOU...let somebody familiar to you by now show you...The image is 36k


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rainbow rays emanate from the word home


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"My heart's in the highlands, gentle and fair..."


*****All materials copyrighted 1998-99 Jesse Slokum*****

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