To expect him to run, to love and leave, to be as a whisper of the wind in the morning–this is a natural expectation.
We’ve only spent a brief time in the Bodhisattva’s world, really. How many people have we seen him have an effect on before he disappears? How many individuals has he touched the spirit of, only to leave them with a bag of high-quality reefer and the barest scent of Nag Champa and beeswax in the air? It seems countless. It’s probably closer to something manageable, like twenty.
This journey is barely a year old, though.
So for him to be in the company of someone twice in the span of a month is…something. It almost doesn’t seem right, like an ill-fitting suit. Like watching a squid apply for a small business loan. It’s not that we haven’t seen it, but there’s always been this pull. Sage feels it. He’s started to notice it. He’s always looking to the door, to the horizon, to the next adventure. New cities, new people, new flesh. Arriving and leaving, arriving and leaving. There’s a thrill to that, to meeting new people–you get to be whatever version of yourself you want to be each time. In many ways, it’s addictive, and Sage is an addict, for sure.
But step one is recognizing you have a problem, right?
So here he is, in an apartment that would probably cost a lot of money if it weren’t for all the issues. Windows are held together with packing tape over their cracks, the floors probably could have stood a full refinish somewhere about 1988, and the plaster is cracked and flaking off the walls. But the spaciousness and the height denote it an older building, before there was so much emphasis on jamming people into sardine configurations to maximize profit. The decor is…eclectic is a word. There’s a large flag with a hammer and sickle on it over the fireplace, which has been repurposed as book storage. A set of four foot tall speakers with rotted particle board bases flank a genuine 1970’s hi-fi system, with records jammed into every available space around it. Posters from shows cover the walls. The bedroom door is plastered over with what seem like hundreds of stickers.
And there’s Cliff, too.
Matter of fact, this is Cliff’s place. And that’s odd too.
Seeing him in the light of day, not fresh from the pit at a hardcore show, is a bit of a thing. He’s throwback handsome, the kind of burly stone jawed barrel chested that would have made him the object of many the swoon in 1926. His mustache is thick, black, not even with a hint of gray hair, as if it was sculpted and slapped on his face. It doesn’t seem affected whatsoever, though. It feels…right. And he is stacked, his chest is as wide as the grill of a modern ford truck. His shoulders are the Twin Sisters, his quads look like ring bologna stacked upon itself. Sitting on his shitty couch in high-legged running shorts and a dickies short sleeve fully unbuttoned, he appears to be going over some kind of a ledger, peering at notes through thick-frame glasses in between sips of coffee.
And occasionally, stealing glances at the Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience.
Sage is…well, Sage. He’s lanky sexual prowess, he’s breathtaking violence with a brilliant smile, he’s supreme enlightenment for the Tik Tok generation. He’s also sticking out like a sore thumb here, and there’s some comfort in that for him. Because for him, this in uncharted territory, he’s well off the edge of his own personal map and regular compass. There’s a part of him that worries if maybe…well, he was just a construct of environment. He’s not dumb or unaware. His parents named him Sage Anikulapo, he grew up in a geodesic dome house, his father is an acquaintance of Ron Kuby. He was always meant to be what he became in some fashion, and he hardly challenged himself in his young travels after booking it from Joshua Tree: India, Peru, Mexico, the Caribbean, British Columbia. All places he could be assured to run into ample kind bud and folks with names taken from horticulture and fantasy novels about kind horses.
So the fear goes that as soon as he tore that comfort away, as soon as he was away from that feedback loop, he’d realize that he was just paper-thin. A caricature, a front draped over a movie star smile and a body of carved oak hardness. He’d shake off his locs and start wearing jeans a high-top sneakers, get a stick-and-poke that says ‘FUCK COMMERCE’ on his ribs, and get excited about the next Limp Crisis EP.
But no, the Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience has survived this play at domesticity, this sample of stillness. He’s reclining in one of his patterned kimonos, and little else save for a few necklaces. He idly puffs on a cone of sacrament–by his companion’s request he’s doing this near the window, which has been cracked to let the smoke escape. This also means that Sage looks like a cat given human flesh, stretched out and lengthy as he is in the rays of the early morning sunshine. And though he finds his mind drawn to the man that he’s spent almost a month with, his eyes hardly stray to him. Instead, they peer out the window, watching the smoke escape, a foci to allow his mind to wander. That’s really all it’s been doing since he got booked, but maybe not for the usual reasons of having to fight, or even trying to find a scrap of enlightenment in the experience and flesh of whoever he was facing. He’s not even found his mind drawn to Bobby Dean, which is odd for him. What he’s preoccupied with is even moreso.
He’s dreading the road, for the first time…ever.
What a troubling thing, he thinks. Honestly, how dare he? Gruff enough to hold some mystery but aware enough for it not to feel like a toxic throwback. What others might have as a stern affect, he comes by honestly because that’s just how he was built. He helps others, and not in the way that I do. In material ways. And though the tenets do teach us about the destructive lust material goods can bring to the soul…well. There are real world stakes. Koan, mantra, and sutra don’t keep your lights on or your children fed.
His frown is apparent as he exhales, picking at his lip.
There was electricity at the first touch, at the first word, his bassy timbre like a grounding force tickling my battered eardrums. The calluses on the pads of his fingers are almost as thick as the ones on my knuckles, our hands fitting together in their opposite ends mismatch…his wide and tireless, mine vascular and long. There’s a lot of fakes and posers in this world, there really are. But he can’t be faking as something, he has no blueprint to pose from. There’s just him. Another drag.
And I’m going to hate leaving him. Cliff Pike. How fucking dare he.
“You’ve been pretty distracted the last couple days, man. Everything good?”
Cliff has a way of just deciding to say it that feels definitive, Sage is discovering. Where others may hem and haw–himself included, with his propensity for long parables–this mountain of hardcore gladiator just out and fucking says it. The Bodhisattva pads over to the man, who himself takes off his glasses in response. Embracing him from behind, Sage notices that his overtly lanky limbs allow for him to embrace such a steamroller of a chest. Settling his head on Cliff’s massive shoulder, he sighs.
“You know, I don’t think I’ve slept in the same place for more than a week any more’n…like, three times in the last few years. And this, what this has been for both of us, is this wonderful paradigm shift. I don’t want to leave, and it has almost nothing to do with missing you.”
Cliff reaches around, encircling the back of Pontiff’s neck and pulling him close.
“If it ain’t about me, what’s it about?”
Sage offers a dry chuckle at this.
“Oh, it’s about you. This isn’t me, Cliff. And I’m not saying that like I don’t want it to be, I mean like historically, right? So this entire time we’ve barely been not with one another. And here in a few days I’m gonna need to walk out of that door, and I’m just…I know it’s silly, or childish, or paranoid, but I’m worried that I’ll walk out of that door and the spell will be broken. The dream will vanish. And then I’ll be back to a life that can’t help but feel a little more washed out and a little less vibrant because you aren’t in it.”
The separate, and sage leans against the wall. Normally able to command any room he desires, he finds his eyes drawn to the floor. He isn’t used to something that genuine coming out of his lips. This isn’t to say he isn’t truthful–he is who he is and he speaks from the heart. But he’s so used to guidance, instruction, imperiously giving direction…he’s having trouble remembering the last time he was this vulnerable, unprompted. It makes him itch.
Cliff Pike places his hands on his hips, those catcher’s mitts lashed to longeshoreman’s forearms, and exhales. The truth is, there has been a lot of adjustment for the both of them, but it never once felt like a chore. Cliff knew that his directness threw Sage for a loop, because Sage has one of those minds that likes to see every facet of something. But similarly, Sage was very, very open about things like emotional trauma and spiritual meaning, things that opened Cliff up to a more honest way of viewing things. Cliff taught Sage to think smaller, Sage taught him to think bigger. In that, they reached a beautiful egalitarianism. But this is a lot at once, and Cliff knows Sage feels that way too. But, he thinks, it took way more stones for ‘im to say it than it did for me to hear it.
“Way I figure it…dream like this only ends if one of us decides it has to. And I don’t wanna stop.”
He walks forward, cutting the distance between him and Sage in half.
“And if the idea of bein’ away from me f’r a few days is really that painful, I could always come with.”
He breaks into a smile that is so warm and at odds with his resting glower that it’s immediately infectious. Sage is powerless himself, laying his head back and chuckling away his fear based doldrums. He reaches out, gently placing a hand to Cliff’s cheek. Their eyes meet, an exchange of energy prevalent.
“Much as the offer is enticing, facts are facts. My life is going to take me away from you for days at a time, and you have a life to lead yourself. I think it’s better if I get used to the sensation, let my chakras become attuned to the specific vibration of longing for you.”
Cliff rolls his eyes at what he believes to be new-age hokum, but they both smile about it.
The smile leads to a kiss.
“Then you better go out and kick some fuckin’ ass, ‘Guru’.”
You know what I find distasteful about you?
You don’t inspire anything in me.
I can look across at anyone and see something there that draws me.
I see their fear. I see images of who they could become, the heights they could reach. I triage the sickness of their souls, and act as conduit for the most powerful medicine known to heal those psychic contusions. I see myself, memories of my past that seem so close to what another person has experienced that our spirits are unified. Even if this world of greed has nearly trampled that flame out, I can still see its embers. Embers that hunger to be fed once more.
And you are…nothing. None of that. There is no facet to you, no secret neglected hidden light.
You are a void.
You aren’t negative, or destructive, or evil.
You’re just that, though.
I walked through life assuming it was my job to elevate everyone that came across my path. That my reason for ascending, my reason for the journey, was to help everyone in the way I knew how. But I’m looking at you. You are resistant to any manner of elevation. So why are you in my path? Why have I been fated to be looking at the spiritual void that has taken the shape of Bobby Dean?
That one, man. That one’s been plaguing me.
You’ve caught me at a transitional moment in my life. One where I’m more open and perceptive to the sheer wonderful simple possibilities of life. Of the world we’re in. How being open to the needs of our shared human condition not only isn’t in opposition of keeping one’s spiritual health paramount–it can only strengthen it. There’s just so fucking much beauty out there, man. So much possibility. And the thing that I don’t understand is how in a world of such love and wonder, someone can exist like you somehow do.
Not even asleep. Just barely even a living thing in any meaningful spiritual sense.
And I felt anger in me. I’m becoming more comfortable with the passions of the Shiva. I’m understanding how to be constructive with it. How to harness something that I’ve considered myself…better than, or above. But anger can be good, it can be healthy. Fury can clear dead wood and allow fresh life to grow. That’s…new to me. And it doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable, but it does feel exciting.
So that’s what you get, Bobby Dean.
You get the Fury of the Bodhisattva.
You get the fierce aspect of Shiva.
You’re a lost cause, so I don’t expect you to become an awakened being. I dont expect you to finally join the rest of us.
But you will be cleared.
The dead vegetation will be swept up.
And beauty will flower and flourish where you once were a negative space that nullified anything in your sphere.
Aghorebhyo tha ghorebhyo ghoraghoratarībhyaśca.
Sarvataḥ śarva sarvebhyo namaste rudrarūpebhyaḥ.