An Old Friend of mine, Tumbleweed, came by today. I was really surprised! Have not seen him in ages. As usual, he walked from God-Knows-Where... Last time I heard, he was living in a culvert in Austin, Texas. The City tried to get him to move but he somehow got a lawyer to help him and he was allowed to live there--nice cozy place! From what I heard from people that knew him in school, he was a real academic guy, headed to a University, with a bright future ahead of him. Then he had an accident while working part time in a warehouse. A long heavy metal chain with a hook on it came loose, swung back and hit him right between the eyes! Knocked him out and he never was the same. Most thought he went mad. He told me once that it was his “Hard Knocks Transfiguration!”
After the accident, he lived in a cabin (really a Shanty, but he called it his cabin) near a family-owned creek that would flood from time to time. I would go check on him and he would be up on the roof talking to the water rushing through the creek below. Once there was a group at my home and a Neil Young concert came on the TV. We both started singing along to the “Old Laughing Lady.” Someone said, “Shut up Tumbleweed and let Jack sing,” so of course Tumbleweed started singing at the top of his voice. We ended up singing a duet that sounded like two tomcats howling! After the song we started laughing so hard, the nails and doors started to fall out of that house!
While he was visiting me last night, we stayed outside for a while. There were violent flashes of “heat” lightning. Tumbleweed would laugh and say, “You know that storm is a living being!” He began talking about reincarnation and then about the Man in the Moon. With his long beard, hair and bamboo walking stick he reminded me of a Prophet of old.... We made him a bed on the couch and in the morning I got up to make him coffee but he had already gone, headed for “God-knows-Where.” He left me a gift though: a fossil rock he picked up somewhere in his travels--but that's not all. He left me with that JOY that seems to abound around those with a certain wild freedom the world sometimes calls “madness.” An old poem popped in my head from Kahlil Gibran:
You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen — the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives — I ran mask-less through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves."
Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me. And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a housetop cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks."
Thus I became a madman. And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief.
...Goodbye Tumbleweed; Happy Trails to You!
from "My Wilderness": I read all the books. I had many teachers, many paths; I had my moments of Satori's and stretches of Samadhi. But when I was turning 60, spiritually I became very dry, on a plateau. I began to pray intensely: “Something must happen!” (click here to continue reading)