Monday, March 23, 2009

honesty

We sped along, music vibrating as the only words necessary. Each one of us looking out his own window seeing his own Jamaica. The road unfolded, spectacular beauty of an aquamarine sea on the left and spectacular beauty of the poverty of this Island on the right. There had been a dark and creeping thing inside me since before I had arrived on the island and I was constantly testing myself to see how I would handle the creeping thing. I had been tested already and I was about to be tested again.

Of course everything is a test, if you want it to be. If you choose to monitor your response, your choices, your actions and reactions and to evaluate and experience yourself in the world. I have found that this process allows me to know myself. There is no failure, there is no success, only information.

The information I had received so far has led me to believe that I am a man, like all others, that has infinite power, magnificent truth and potential when that truth is lived. I am not a truthful person, no matter how much I try or say and I have found that I do not live in a world that worships truth and because of that it is even more vital to my soul and the soul of humanity that I struggle to test myself, struggle to know my truth, struggle to express my truth, struggle to come into the light of my truth, struggle to remain free of judgement; there is no judgement in truth.

These small examples, like the one that I will soon tell about, are all avenues to truth. In fact every situation, of course, is an avenue to truth. Every moment and yet I pick my moments to define and measure and I don't know if there is another way for me at this point, this is the small piece that I know and the small piece that I will continue to explore.

This new section of road was good for speeding, Jamaica was good for speeding. I often feel as if I am a race car driver on a track; of course I am a race car driver that is high, drunk, tired and distracted by the poverty and beauty...Dale Earnhardt is a pussy.

There are not too many fearful sights in Jamaica. It is a land of postcard beauty, wrapped in the facade of palms and beaches, mountains and sunshine and wonderous blackness. But it is not too far under the surface that lurks another side, like the robber blending into the darkness of the night, Jamaica has it's dark corners, it's lurkers.

As we crested the hill one of the sights you don't want to see blocked the road ahead - police - at a roadblock, stopping cars, searching for drugs, guns and other illicit possesions. They don't stop everyone but they stopped us and because we were all relatively experienced we immediately understood the implications. The officers carried M-16 rifles, casually, like batons, like it was their rightful cause and with that right the officers lose the connection between what the weapon means and concern themselves only with what it allows them.

As the officer approached the car and asked for documents I tried to gather myself. It had been 30 seconds from when we saw the roadblock till I was asked for documents. I knew we had ganja and money, I knew the police knew it as well. It wasn't a matter of being afraid as much as it was a waiting game, waiting for the opportunity that would surely present itself if given the time. The worst thing possible would be to chat with the cops or to show too much fear. Chatting could lead to a feeling of disrespect from the officers and too much fear could lead to an emptying of our wallets. There was a middle ground, and it was simply about carefully waiting for the opportunity.

"Ya fren is going to lock up" the soldier said to me with a smile. "you gwan to leave him".

"No sah" I said.
"He cyan't lock up".

"well" the young officer said to me, "it looks like lunch is on you".

"Of course" I said, leaning as casually as I thought I could on the car hood.
"And beers too" I added, pulling out $1500 Jamaican dollars and pressing them to his hand.

He laughed.
He laughed in his full outfit of warrior gear, gun, spray, vest, helmet, handcuffs, baton.

All four of us were now out of the car. I was talking with the soldier at the front while my passagners were in different states of being searched. They had found ganja on one and were now searching the trunk and our bags. I had already paid one of them and he seemed content. However the other, after finding what we all knew he would find in my bag, simply stated with a scowl that $1500 was not enough. That I would be locked up as well.

There was some confusion as the bribed soldier told his partner that I had already contributed to the lunch fund because they wanted more and we had more. Sensing a quick resolution I asked for another $1000 from a passanger and without hesitation a crisp bill was pressed into the second soldiers hand.

The soldiers, then, almost immediately lost interest in us. They had gotten what they wanted and the twisted thing for us was that we got what we wanted...after being pulled over by men with guns in a foriegn land all we wanted was to not go to jail or worse.

After thanking the officers and pulling out to continue our journey did the simplicity and irony strike me. We were just held up by licensed crooks with guns and somehow we felt greatful for the outcome instead of outraged by the truth of our captivity.

So now I think to myself about the truth. About the trick that has been pulled on most of humanity about men with guns extorting money from people without them.

It may be more direct, more in your face down here in Jamaica - but it is no different than anywhere else. In fact, it's more honest here.

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