The St. John's Lighthouse in the Bardo

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St. John’s is lost.  It was a vigorous area of Portland with mills, shops, shipping.  And now, just the workers remain.  Mostly in the bars.

Too many of these unemployed workers around to make the real switch to a gentrified neighborhood – continual reminders of poverty DO tend to make the gentry squeamish.

And so St. John’s waits in the gap between the past, and an uncertain future: thebardo.

About me? –  I’m aprogrammerby trade, and have a pretty good track record of completing projects and such.  Doing innovative stuff, bla, bla, bla.  But economically, It’s a very different story.  I owe a butt-load of money to the Man, and he got more than Dog working for him.   So I’m forced to hunt for work: an uncertain future – the bardo.

But programming requires a meditation likezen chess.  And worse, it steals time.  Time, precious time that results in missing important things.  Like packages have been left on your doorstep too long and have been returned to sender or that your house burned down.  And worse: Zen Chess emits pheromones that just say NO to sex.  Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be programmers.

Ouch: lets try a balance:  Zen Chess in the AM, and dedicate the PM to writing. Fiction, stories, real stuff, crazy stuff, St. John’s stuff.  That’s the most fascinating: the stories from Saint John’s residents.  All I need to do is pay attention.  The St. John’s Lighthouse will illuminate as many stories as I can transcribe.

So here I am in St. John’s, trying to fill the bardo by writing down all the stories that I’m running into.  The people here are fascinating, andFriend, here’s one now: Gandalf is up at the counter:

Gandalf tells me: "Next door to my house was an old lady in her 90’s.  She moved a few years ago to a nursing home.   She sold to a couple of Mother Goddess worshippers who did some renovations and put a natural irrigation system in their back yard.  Bingo! Body!  Seems the old lady’s husband was unfaithful too many times, and just went missing 50 years ago.

Gandalf continued: "The new owners very, very quietly, did a cleansing, smudging, new agey blessing on the remains and report that the place is no longer haunted.  The old lady is alive and happy in her rest home.  A femur is used to stake the tomatoes.

Behind Gandalf in line, Samwise tells me about the shanghai tunnels.  He says that they even start up here and go down to the Willamette.  Followed the sewer tunnels mostly.  Said there were tunnels under the Willamette.  That’s the way it was in 1880, you go to the wrong bar, get drunk, wake up on a ship sailing to Opium City.  

Stories.  You can’t NOT hear the stories: the bardo of St. John’s is filled with stories, isn’t it,Friend?

St. John’s still has hope of reaching the shore on the other side of the gap.  Hope: I think it’s somehow related to the Mona Lisa of Infrastructure we have here: The incredibly beautifulSt. John’s Bridge: Why so Beautiful? Why here where nobody can see it? But there it is: a vision of hope and beauty.  Isn’t the cosmic laughter pretty awesome?

I’m still in the bardo.  Most everybody is in St. John’s.  But my writing is getting better, at least I hope so. It’s the bridge.  It gives hope that there is another shore on the other side: and until we find it, the view from the St John’s Lighthouse continues to amaze.

I remain,

– St. John’s Jim

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