Joshua Tree, California – 2013.
I mean, as much as ‘pissed’ can be stated for someone calmly having a conversation. But Sage is hip to her vibes and her mannerisms. The warmth is always there, she’s always supportive, but there are these little tics that you notice when you’ve spent a childhood in various forms of trouble with various authority figures. The slight narrowing of the eyes, her lips get tighter. She sits with legs crossed and rubs her thumb along her pointer finger, a motion that she literally never does any time else. And, like a train arriving, there comes her deep sigh.
Not an ounce of makeup touches her face, and it’s unsure if any ever has. But she is pretty and glowing, likely owing to a lifetime of holistic pursuit. Her salt and pepper hair is long enough to reach the meditation pillow that she’s sitting on, and her clothing is simple, single color, a caftan of natural fibers. Her jewelry clatters and clinks as she brushes a stray hair from her face, her eyes affixing to her son, her first poem, her joy in this world.
The boy seated across from her on another pillow has a face that barely looks teenaged–it hasn’t caught up with the lank that he’s grown in the last year. Though he couldn’t be a day over 14, he already bears a few piercings, his hair already a collection of short, moppy dreadlocks. It’s Sage Pontiff, but not the Sage we’ve grown to love. This one is less sure of himself. Less magnetic. He’s practically wilting, actually. But his wry smirk, his bloody lip, his raw knuckles? That’s the Bodhisattva in full effect.
She looks at him and begins chewing her bottom lip–another telltale sign–before closing her eyes and engaging in a few deep circular breaths. As her eyes reopen, she begins speaking, calm still.
“I’m sure you had enlightened reasons for doing so?”
“Not an enlightened reason, Ma. It was in the pursuit of enlightenment. The reason is because he threw a bottle full of tobacco spit on me. But what I learned about myself? Like…c’mon. You’re always telling me to see past just what’s physically in front of me, to be in tune with the planet and the stars and I feel more in tune after fighting than I ever have before, and–”
She holds up a hand, cutting him off. His pace of speech is excitable, it snowballs in tempo and volume, the telltale signs of someone who has begun to piece together an ethos, but who hasn’t quite nailed down the particulars of it just yet. She stands up and strides across wooden flooring to her son, where she kneels. This is a moment of tenderness, the type of thing that sticks with you after you’ve grown into an adult. She simply brushes his cheek and pulls him close, embracing him. There is no melancholy here, not an embrace of resignation. Simply a mother hoping that her love and acceptance can keep her boy out of trouble. Many people in the business of fight have fraught relationships with family or difficult childhoods. Sage has no such thing. They hug tightly before breaking apart, and she plants a kiss on his forehead, right in the third eye location.
“My sweet boy. No more of this, okay? No more.”
“Ma. I love you. And because of that, I’m not gonna lie.”
Oasis Valley, Amargosa Desert Nevada
For as far as the eye can see, it’s nothingness. Vast, frightening nothingness.
But fear isn’t in the cards for our shaman.
While the van is nowhere to be seen, he is calm and resplendent. Occasional wind whips his pants and flowing kimono about his lean body, but his copious dreads are currently held underneath a multicolored Rasta cap. He’s still nursing a rather lumpy looking nose, but in an infuriating turn of events, it actually looks cool on him. Some folks have all the luck. In his hand he clutches a bunch of Goldenhead flowers, and though he’s on the precipice of the biggest match of his career, it isn’t showing on his face. Rather, he’s smiling. His eyes would show excitement if they could break through all the psilocybin that is likely coursing through his system.
Sweet merciful heaven, the beauty! Did you see it, Ria? Did you see how beautiful you were in those moments, not giving in to the pressures of what is expected of you?
It was like watching something become itself. A thing that exists but evolves in a blink to become the same thing, but a more pure form. Before the world corrupted it and drained it of its color, its vibrancy. I sit here, alone, embraced by the womb of nature itself and I cannot, cannot, just plain can’t begin to tell you…look at this vastness, my close friend. It’s inhospitable to human life, a killing engine miles and miles in stretch and yet…that has preserved it. Kept it holy. Kept it sacred.
You could learn something from these wastes. I could. We all could.
But you have so far yet to go.
So much yet to learn.
Or did you think this was a lesson for me? You beautiful soul.
I have learned all I can about the receiving of pain.
There are no new horizons for me to reach.
This world, this earth. This is not home. Home is…away.
I need merely leap and I will float into the sky, beyond the veil, and into a land of enlightenment that so very few get to witness.
But I’m still here, Ria.
Because the work still needs to be done.
Because humanity has so far to go. Because you have so far to go.
And the beautiful thing is that I’m not like…bitter, or anything like that. The farthest thing! This isn’t some punishment trip. But I saw it, Ria. Anyone who is cosmically attuned did too. You were so close to completing the circuit. You became you. And I’m sure you beat yourself up over it, too. Or comforted yourself. Lied to yourself. Said this would only be a one time thing. This is just so he learns. Just a payback for what he did. That’s all this is. It means nothing. How many lies has Ria told Ria? How many promises has Ria made Ria that Ria knows she can’t ever keep? How often does Ria feel that other part of her gnashing its teeth and rattling its cage…and still yet, you go to sleep without feeding it?
You’re an outline that I saw filled in for a glorious moment.
You’re a Yurei, walking like a ghost. But you had flesh! It was brief but I was there and I witnessed it as sure as I tasted my own blood.
And here we arrive.
A ring. A night.
That’s a story that will get repeated time and again. Its echoes go backwards and forwards. People in the ring. Blood and bone. And to many of them, Ria, that is all there is to it. Show up. Fight. Leave. Show up. Fight. Leave. But there’s so much more here, now. Everything that has happened has led to this. From my first punch to your first kick, from my early days in the Akhara to your time under another name. All of them have led here, to this moment, the currents of the universe and the tug and pull of positives and negatives pushing us to this, right here. Feel it. Reach deep and feel it. Because the parts of you that need to roam free have been asleep, but you woke them up. Even if it was just a moment. And now the hibernation is over. And they want to feed.
I’m not predicting a win.
Wins are so…petty. Who cares about a stat line when you’re realigning someone’s place in the cosmic ether?
But I am going to ask you something.
Let them feast.
Sage Pontiff ( @CosmicBodhisattva8 ) IG Live, 12/06/2022
We’re probably still in the desert. But it’s nighttime.
A fire is going, a small one. Sage is reclining against his backpack, playing a steady rhythm on his djembe, his eyes off in the distance. The light of the flames, the stars shining in the clear sky–it looks artistic, beautiful. And Sage himself is practically glowing, his skin showing golden and orange in the fire’s light. He seems almost wistful. And when he speaks, it is not with the same full-chested bravado that he normally does. Instead, he’s speaking with a softness. A stillness. Maybe it’s the night, maybe he’s tired. Maybe his trip has taken an introspective turn.
“Remember, we’re all children of the stars. The cosmic ether speaks through us because it is part of us, right? We’re of the cosmos and we carry it in our bones and our blood all the way down to like the most minute of matter. Think of an atom. Nucleus in the center. Protons and electrons circling it. Think of our solar system. Sun in the center. Planets circling it. We are smaller than it but we carry it’s signature in the makeup of our existence. And, because we’re all children of the cosmos, we all carry the power of galaxies within us. “
He stops his playing and sets the drum aside. He leans forward until he is illuminated even brighter by the glow of the flames, standing in stark contrast to the dark night. A golden being.
“That means you don’t need anyone’s permission to become exactly what you want to be. What you’re meant to be. Not mine, your parents, Gods, the governments.”
His easy smile is as infectious as it is seductive. In moments like this, it’s hard to doubt his sincerity. Not impossible, but very, very hard.
“You just need your own.”
He kisses his fingertips and gently places them on his forehead in the third eye position.
“Look inside and see the vastness of your own power. Don’t run away from it. Embrace it.”
This broadcast has ended.