Life escapes; and perhaps without life Nothing else is worthwhile
Virginia Woolf ~ Modern Fiction
The Clouds Gather
In April 1972, the Patriarch and his wife (the Matriarch) made a missionary trip to Durango. I met them at the doctor’s house where they were guests of the doctor and his wife. The doctor’s sons were living in Fresno at the commune so that was the connection. The older son, Killy, was a few years older than me and very cool in my sight; therefore I went to the doctor’s house to hear what the Patriarch had to say. The next day I told my parents I was dropping out of school and going back with the Patriarch to live in a commune in Fresno. They were not pleased.
The Lightning Flashes
Funnily enough, their displeasure took the form of a massive row, a row of biblical proportions. Being the Christian that I was, I returned fire. I mean, what else could I do? The Patriarch was leaving Durango in a few days and if I did not go with him, I would miss any opportunity I would ever have to live a holy and godly life. By God, Mom and Dad weren’t going to hinder this great and glorious goal. I fought for my life and so did they. My parents won. (“I fought the law and the law won.”)
I was not used to such high emotional drama and the next day felt physically drained. I had terrible stomach spasms. My dad decided this would be a good time for me to renew my driver’s license.
I agreed to stay in school for the next two months and get my high school diploma. However, I made it plain that if the Patriarch ever came through Durango again I was going to escape to Fresno. That is the story I told myself.
The Winds Blow
As true as it is that everyone has a plan for your life, everyone also has a story about life. It’s what we humans do to make sense of things. Life escapes – we tell a story about it.
H. L. Mencken wrote,” I believe that an artist fashioning his own imaginary world out of his own agony and ecstasy is a benefactor to us all, but the worst error we can commit is to mistake his imaginary world for the real one.”
The thing is, people’s stories may or may not be true; the other thing is, a story doesn’t have to be true in order for it to be believed. As Salvor Hardin said, “Nothing has to be true, but everything has to sound true.”
The Rain Falls
The Patriarch had a story about the commune that I believed was most likely true. The young believe a lot more stories than the old because the old have followed a lot more stories to their source. The old have experienced a lot more Trojan Horses, and as a result, they know there are only a handful of stories worth believing. Therefore it’s up to the young to believe everything and anything.
You take a politician or a preacher. They always have a story to tell that probably isn’t true. They should know better, but they make the mistake of believing their own stories and will fight, and even let others die for them. I don’t think this was the case with the Patriarch. I think he knew his commune story wasn’t exactly true, but he thought he could make it true if enough people believed it.
The Sun Shines
That’s why he and the Matriarch eventually came back to Durango a few months later; there were a good number of young people willing to believe his story. It was worth the trip to add one more believer to the fold. And why not? If that was the foma that made a group of hippies happy, kind, generous, and peaceful, why not sell the story? I was ready to go.
Note to self: New appreciation for Kurt Vonnegut.