Thursday, January 15, 2009

Of Visions

Recently at the sauna I met a 6'5" blonde Dutch muscle god, who as we lay together in a cubicle after sex, told me that he had had three visions.

He'd been an opera star in America but came back to Holland to care for his mother after she got cancer. For three years he took care of her and then she died. For two years he grieved, until one night he awoke to find her sitting on the edge of his bed. Just looking at him and loving him. When she vanished (and since that time she is always with me!) the room was full of light, he thought it must be morning, but when he pulled the curtain back it was still night.

The second vision he had was in the hospital -- the lining around his heart was swollen with water and he had to gasp for breath. Dozens of tests had been made but the cause could not be found. He had been prepped for surgery -- the water had to be relieved or he would die. In the hour while he waited, a light came to him and filled his body. When the nurse came to bring him to surgery, he was breathing normally. (And the refrain is always the same: and the doctors had never seen anything like it!)

The third vision was simple: he was out on his balcony in Germany and the light came to him and he saw that God was in the world and he saw that he was God. I say it's simple. It never happened to me. If I go out on a balcony, it's to guess what the weather might be -- and most of the time I'm wrong.

Synchronicity and psychic phenomena were sprinkled liberally throughout his story. For example, when he was suffering in the hospital, his best friend consulted a psychic who without knowing anything! declared "your friend has tears on his heart."

All this was told to me, as we lay together, rather sticky, after sex in a dark plywood cubicle at the day sauna in Amsterdam. I'd told him that I didn't ordinarily get guys like him. The tall Dutch gods generally only want each other, the very pretty or the very young.

"I'm deeper than that," he said. "I'm not religious but I'm very spiritual."

Gosh. Thanks. Let me make sure I understand. You're Saint Francis. I'm the leper.

I'm not religious I'm spiritual. Of all the infinite varieties of bullshit, that is the sentence I personally find most nauseating.

Then again, he was 6'5" and he did love his mother and he had spent the last hour, uh, ardently reciprocating, so I said, "Of course you are" and he went on to tell me his three visions.

"But I'm no better than you," he said, as a CEO or rock star might, knowing full well that he IS better, unutterably, self-evidently better. He's a 6'5" opera star who has seen God. I'm a jug-eared punk with a crippled leg and an unfortunate personality. It's my job to say that he was "gracious and down-to-earth" and consider myself lucky.

I do consider myself lucky, incidentally.

Sometimes I think it would be the easiest job in the world to be a writer of newspaper editorials. Most of the time, two opposite statements are both true. Especially in regard to human beings.

He was a profoundly and authentically spiritual person. C'mon. For three years he gave up his opera career, where death takes only eight minutes and arrives with an aria, to care for his mother. He didn't ask for those visions, they came to him. As for final proof, you'll have to take my word for it. I held him in my arms. There is some radiance that can't be faked.

He was also a shallow puffed-up egotistical ass. He was there to impart his vision -- since he'd already shot his spunk. I had no more right to claim mystic experience of my own than a cornflake.

I mentioned that I was the author of a well-received essay about the practice of Buddhist loving-kindness meditation in sleazy gay bars. But he was not interested, not in spiritual me. The termite.

I am forever amazed by how things can be so true and so false, all at the same time.

For example, how life manages to seem, on one hand, perfectly random and meaningless, and, on the other, as intricately and thoughtfully plotted as a door-stop Victorian novel, an old-fashioned one, unapologetically heavy-handed with impossible coincidences and deus ex machina.

Does life seem this way to you? Sometimes it's a monkey at the typewriter. Other times I want to clutch my hair and howl mad scientist style: Everything iz connected!

The 6'5" opera god lives in a world where everything has meaning and synchronicity spills out in every direction. I want to live in that world, too. Sometimes I think I do. Then there are times that magical thinking seems positively inspid, as if one day I had an epiphany: "Ohmigod! It IS all about me after all!" As if God were only an all-inclusive travel agent making sure the prize in the Crackerjack box has a special meaning for me personally.

Then again, there is a convincing case to be made, I believe, for the idea that God, at some point in the twentieth century, became exhausted by the population boom, and rather than puzzling out individual destinies, decided just to assign people plots from literature. My life, for example, is a transparently cobbled together mish-mash of common summaries. (I suspect God did not even take the time to read the book and thus we live out lives based on the Cliffs Notes.) My childhood was King Lear -- bad enough, followed by "The Fall of the House of Usher" -- even worse. Now I'm basically re-living Don Quixote, which is bruising, but, on the plus side, also very funny. It's a disco queer Quixote re-mix actually, wherein Don Quixote and Sancho Panzo are married -- but more about that some other time.

On the off chance that I am ever a ghost, peering back from the edges of life, what I will miss most are these small peculiar events, as when a hunk in a sex dive wants to discuss his spiritual life, or, on the Metro in Madrid, a man with an accordion begins to sing, and must sing double-quick so that he can collect his coins before the next station arrives.

Meaningful or meaningless? I am completely convinced of both. Adorable, certainly -- also obnoxious. And I do feel lucky (also unlucky) to be marooned in a such a world.

(10.22.08, Amsterdam)
(11.19.08, Madrid),

1 comment:


If someone better looking than me comes into the bar, I get close enough to stick him with a sewing needle so he lets out a yelp and guys will think he's cute, but mental.