Teen Invasion

The back door to the apartment opened and five teens trooped in. My back room has been filled with packs and guitars while they have mostly been staying in one of those city flats shared by the few and frequented by the many. One of the rent paying residents seems to be on a rampage. He stole a wallet from one of the kids and then beat him up. The guy's dad came over and straightened him out, so that he at last report had returned a stolen credit card, repaid the money, and apologized for his behavior.

The kid with the black eye is a pretty big guy. He's brown, with thick black curls and a ring in his nose of the kind bulls used to wear to balls at the Cow Palace. It's a manly ring. I'll bet his dad scared the shit out of the kid who took his wallet. There is another young man who tends toward brown, and I've met him before. HIs name is Gordon. I met him in Prescott, with three other kids my daughter had brought home, and I had a favorable impression of all of them. In fact, one of the things that makes me feel good about my kid is that I like her friends. They invariably strike me as smart kids, but not just kids who are making good grades, or receiving accolades, but kids who are seekers. There is something noble in them.

I don't know much about them other than the encounters we have face to face. But I know they are traveling around, and that they play music and they talk about things, and they are good people. I suspect they are members of the Johnson Family.

There was a woman writer, very well known but I am not sure which one it was now, who wrote in a forward to one of her novels that there is not really any way to know which people in the society are brightest, because many of the brightest ones go underground. They see the system from the outside and can't function inside it without dumbing down. Certainly this image of the "outsider" is seen in Scott Fitzgerald's novels, the image of the one who views the inner circle through the window, from the garden, and does not feel himself or herself to be inside it.

In some views, and arguably in reality, there is always an outlaw class of approximately the same size as the middle class, the same as in the psyche there is always a shadow counterbalancing the ego. Under a system of good and evil, and strict moral guidelines, we may reach a place where one half of the people, dressed in white, imprison the other half, dressed in black. At last we will do away with moral ambiguity as reason fully contains desire.

Colin Wilson's literary reputation was made on his first book, "The Outsider," and then he was roasted for moving into a study of the occult and paranormal. But in his opening salvo, he delineated something in the contemporary psyche related to the hip experience of the Beats, on the road in search of kicks, music, and drama. The Outsider opens (if I recall accurately) with the image of a woman on a streetcar. A man is looking at her, and it is the moment when he catches the erotic image that he finds a peak experience. This sharpening of the world at moments became central to Wilson's search for meaning, and led him to a view that the act of observing energizes that which is observed. It isn't a passive subject object process, like a camera and a parking garage.

Back in the sixties an interviewer asked Bob Dylan how he got his kicks and he said, "I hire people to look into my eyes, and then I have them kick me." I still remember my own delight, as a teenager, to hear somebody just refuse to get into the box and take these questions with proper sincerity. Dylan was a hipster, and they couldn't pin him down. "Don' get up, gentlemen, I'm only passing through." Suddenly there were alternative ways to view a rigid society. It broke apart in a dazzling release of energy when I was the age of these kids, and here in San Francisco, we had the summer of love.

When all these teens walked in I was in the process of listening (once again) to a podcast about Transcendental Meditation. It was a presentation by David Lych, and then there were some professors talking about the measuring of brain activity during TM, and so on. I left it on for a couple of minutes, and then I began to think that it might be annoying to them. Once I heard a program about a guy who realized that he annoyed people because he informed them against their will, and it seemed like something I probably do. So I have tried to keep an eye on that and rein it in. I shut off the feed.

"Hey! What happened?" Gordon said from the other room. "He was just going to give the answer. Then it just stopped." I had to go through and find about where I shut it off and then start it again, and Gordon, at least, sat in the living room and listened in rapt attention to the program.

Last night my daughter said, with a kind of bemused acceptance, "Gordon thinks you're great."

That always feels good, when your kid has to admit that other kids like you, despite all the evidence that could be presented to dissuade them of taking you at face value. My theory is that people of any age know if you like them, and that a lot of young people are used to being overlooked. When you take a moment, even, to really see somebody, you are giving them spiritual growth hormone. Everyone needs to be seen in order to be real.

Every one of these kids I talk to impresses me not just as intelligent, but also as making a lot of effort. Sometimes it's easy to forget, when you're older, that it isn't easy to be young. Not every kid makes it. Some of them are lost, and a lot more are damaged. You can never be sure of what will make the difference, but you know the impulse of the Catcher in the Rye, to try to protect them. And you know you can't turn them over to institutions in a time when all institutions are corrupt.

So maybe just hearing something simple but of central importance helps. What is of central importance is the Self, because it never changes. It is the same today as it is tomorrow and yesterday, because it is outside of time, the thread that connects you to an expanded field of consciousness.

As a person who meditates knows, there is an ocean of consciousness behind the busyness of the object oriented thought process. Going into it expands awareness, and it's as simple as going into the certainty that you remember yourself in your essence. Gordon was locked on to the message, so he must have had an appointment with it here.

Meanwhile, I see that each one of these kids is unique, and gifted. I hope they keep a strong hold on that part that does not change, and don't let anybody talk them into believing it's outside them, in some rich man's garden.

"I say then it is time for gods who do not offer such paltry bribes." (Burroughs)

Posted: Mon - July 9, 2007 at 01:01 PM