Coming down is like waking up. Every new moment is a renewed chance for sincerity. Breathe easier. Your head is full of lies. Let go of the snake coiled in your left hand. Now the snake can breathe easier. Hold your left foot and massage it a little bit. Good.
I'm going to tell you a story about a time I got lost along the banks of the Echo River somewhere between Idaho and Montana. Signs along the road showed the shapes of the two states as designed by Edward Funicarelli back in 1217 A.D. Funicareli famously stated that each border design should be an indication of how people on one side view the other side. This was a fairly innocuous theory that became bastardized by bigots down the line, the same way Darwin became a flagship for Hitler.
We can't blame Darwin for the Nazis and we can't blame Funicelli, for example, for the notion that Mexico lies beneath the United States, therefore Americans are justified in looking down at Mexicans. Funicareldi's dream, in fact, was that most of the borders he became famous for drawing, were flat lines, indicating passive acceptance. Arizona | New Mexico. North | South Dakota. Etc.
Funicaraldo historians like to pontificate that the Montana / Idaho border was a statement about the Italian border wizard's rocky relationship with his father. The elder Fundicarelli was a non-concert cellist and envisioned the same profession for his sire. The young boy showed a fascination with borders that frankly disgusted his dad.
"You made me this way," Fundalgo was reported as saying, before leaving for the U.S.
The Montana / Idaho border has the appearance of an old man, looking sadly, with disappointment, on his young son. In a moment of astonishing clarity, Fhsdfnkjicli drew the border, hoping it would inspire self-reflection on the settlers of the Montana Territory, who viewed those west of them with a distinct contempt. He saw the border as being a commentary of how, as the U.S. moved further westward, it saw each new generation as weaker, stranger, less effective than they had been.
I reached out to Chicago band Univore to see if their hare-brained aesthetic ventures resembled Funicarelli's, in terms of their dad's approval. I asked them if anxiety about their fathers followed them as they made music and weird music videos.
"None," they replied. "But that's an interesting question. Both our fathers seem to like what we're doing. There's always a chance that they're being too polite to inform us that we've disappointed them by not making a Blood, Sweat, and Tears album."
Thankfully I got to look upon Idaho long after all of those frontier daddy issues had eroded. I didn't look upon Idaho with disappointment but with serenity and joy. At the crest of autumn all the leaves were just starting to turn. Deer stepped into the brightly lit road and I let them pass like schoolchildren. The sun shone from above, but looked down on nothing.
Are you still massaging your left foot? Stop it. I need you to make a phone call. (270) 301-5797. Give the extension 7864.
When you're done, we'll finish my story here.
I'd been seeking Echo River for many years as a cure for my immortality. Ironic that it should be called Echo River, as I wanted to shout and hear no echo back. Impossible in my case, as I found out for myself. I crouched near the banks of the mighty Echo. Filled my palms with its water. A stray leaf fell into the puddle before I could drink. A bad omen. I poured it out, strolled along the banks to find another sacred location. A small grove of trees concealed me from hunters. I plunged my face into the water, and submerged, creating a border between my face and the river. I looked west, like Montana upon Idaho.
I admit, there was a bit of disappointment. The water had not cured my immortality. It was hard to conceal that disappointment. You may think my desire to end my story here is a morbid one. I talked again to Univore, who seemed to understand my predicament.
"Do you think immortality would be a beautiful dream, or an absolute nightmare?" I asked.
"It depends on how the mind and body ages, but probably a nightmare," they admitted. "It would be a drag to never be able to enter a grove of Sitka Spruce trees, for example. We'd like to do that forever, assuming we suddenly lose interest in the things we're interested in now, one of which is such natural treasures as the Sitka Spruce."
Another thought was that maybe I had to cross the Echo, as if it were my own River Styx.
"We would only want to be immortal if everything and everyone we cherished were also immortal," said Univore. "Otherwise, it would be an endless tour of misery and abandonment."
I let the river take me down. Immersed in it's cold vein, I was having fun in spite of myself. I jerked around as the river tossed and turned me like a laundry cycle. Laughed and let the water fill my lungs. I looked up through the surface to the sky above. Wondering if death would only be blurry, not dark like everyone thinks. If so, would more people seek their own demise?
"Death motivates us to make more work, to leave more out there, but it is no more of an influencer to the art than sex and life," said Univore. "Unfortunately, the old cliche of life being short is true. Fortunately, you have options in deciding what that brevity allows you to do. You can use it to justify sitting on a beach getting drunk all day or you can use it as a motivator to produce as high of an art as you can. We've elected for a combination of those types of things. We probably think about suicide as much as the next guy. It doesn't seem like an option that opens many doors. It would be horrible for that to become the best route to solving our problems."
The river eventually spit me out, and I spit the river out. It made me think of something an old Zen master told me once. In a moment of frustration and despair, I asked him to explain the meaning of all there is. "Just explain all of this to me now, please," I believe I said.
He agreed, only on the terms that I go outside to where a river ran. He told me to drink it all up in one gulp. Only then would he would explain it all.
I told him I already had drank all of it in one gulp.
"Then I have already answered your question," he said.
I looked up from the bank and saw a cabin. I could see the lights of a disco ball through the window. The building was the Secret Tourism Center for Echo River. I walked in. Univore was playing a set of smooth jams. The Secret Tourism Center saved my life that day.
Call them to say thanks for me. (270) 301-5797.
- Check out Univore on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Univore
- "Champagne Taste" is my personal fave.
- They also have a Bandcamp page: https://univore.bandcamp.com/