Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Noun Is Just A Slow Verb


People, places and things are not nouns. They are nouning. They are slow verbs. Their molecular morphology is so imperceptible to humans that we are given the impression that they are fixed, permanent. All the fortification technology in the world has never produced a castle that didn't crumble.

The philospher David Bohm spoke of this, and I think it is very relevant to voyaging. And of course we have the famed Heraclitus quote:

"Everything is in a state of flux."

Humans can plague themselves with their innate need to feel permanence. We are afraid of that which we do not know, and routine is something we know. We are afraid of the dark, because we cannot see, we do not know what lurks in the shadows. But these fears are most often unfounded, and they teeter towards neurosis and paranoias.

Traveling is a remedy, a surrendering of one's control impulse. And I was on the cusp of disembarking on my latest venture. Exploring options, I reached for my cell phone.

"Hey Gabe, how you doin'?"

It was the calm before the storm, the one chance to get a few words in without having to interrupt him, talk over him, or almost scream.

He goes by the name of Mushroom John.


"Fine thanks, I just got back from LA, and I have a few questions for you." I was always right down to business over the phone, my ambition difficult to cloak in a shroud of small talk.


I was on the freeway, driving through South Seattle to a friends house. Previously I had been in Hollywood pursuing my dreams as an actor. Exasperated with the abundance of superficiality in that field, I was searching for any way to discover my voice in writing. On the trip up, behind the wheel and fueled by caffeine, I had dreamed of numerous subjects, ideas, and genres to write in. Fiction. Screenplays. Nonfiction. Travelogues, and memoirs. Too many potential avenues there. I had been hopping around the English language for over a decade now, avidly, fancying myself a poet, author and philosopher, but nothing workable had come to fruition. It was time for a class project, but did I really need to go back to school to take classes? Could I not just give myself an assignment in the school of life?


What I needed was direction, an assignment, a way of channeling my creativity. Without something to work on specifically, I could start a thousand stories and never finish one of them. Which is why I was on the phone with John.

"Say, you planning a trip to Thailand anytime soon?" I inquired. I had heard him speak of these trips for years, always wanting to join him on his guided journeys. He is like a modern day shaman, leading groups on jaunts throughout Southeast Asia picking psychedelic and non psychedelic mushrooms and exploring consciousness as well as Thai culture and geography.

"Yeah, I'm trying to get one together for May."

Then he just went on and on. My technique for dealing with his ranting was to interrupt him with questions when he got off topic or to redirect his rambling in a direction that interested me more. Along the way I learned that he was suffering from diabetes, he had been falsely accused of pedophilia by a rival psychedelic guru, and his website had been hijacked by another mushroom related dot com in a move for check mate in the battle for online psychedelic data domination. Was there any good news? Aren't hippies supposed to be happy?

"Let me tell you," enthusiastically back on the subject of Thailand now, "if you go on this trip, we can stay after the scheduled itinerary and I will take you to some places I haven't taken people to for years. Did you know that we will get to go to the royal gardens? Not many people get to explore that part of the palace. I'm very well connected with the caretaker of the gardens and many wonderful mushroom specimens grow there. I'm allowed the privilege of taking spore prints of them." I had mentioned my aspirations to be a writer, and my interest in using him and his mushroom tours as the launching subject of a travelogue that I wanted to write. His ego seemed to get a jolt at the thought of him being the subject of a quasi biographical book, or at least part of a book, and he was speaking as if I had already given him the $2100 he charged for his guidance, plus airfare , lodging, and many of the meals.


I hung up the phone, finally, after saying goodbye to him numerous times only to have him go off into another tangent.

Could it be done? A host of logistical considerations crept into my mind along with the doubt that inevitably accompanied them. My passport got lost years ago. What if I couldn't get a new one in time for the trip? What if I got sick? And did I have it in me, the wherewithal to embark on such a fantastic voyage? And more importantly, could I survive a month in a very foreign third world sweltering climate of a country with Mushroom John talking my ear off at every interval, mostly about mushrooms, a subject that has never fascinated but always amazed me?

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