Asbestos Head Chapter 7 - Kindness of Strangers

Joseph Head
-Kindness of Strangers-

Asbestos leaves the trailer park and proceeds toward Main street. He passes a large animal farm and from out of nowhere is caught in the jovial farmer's enthusiastic embrace. He squeezes the bejesus out of Asbestos and immediately apologizes:

"I'm Sorry. I have an overwhelming impulse to hug everyone I see. Please don't take it personally unless that makes you happy."

"No problem." Asbestos smiles and continues.

“Problems. You know son, problems that can be understood beforehand lose their ability to be problematic. So I always consider the worst in order to weed out potential mishaps before they happen.”

Asbestos stops. “That sounds depressing and pessimistic.”

“It’s not pessimism. It’s far-sighted optimism. Intentional cogitation on negativity eventually neutralizes its ability to affect you, so simply pondering potential problems like broken trust, loss of love, death, jealousy, guilt, disappointment and all other negative emotions you're able to vanquish without the anguish of experiencing their gut-wrenching depths. When I was your age, I rode an emotional roller coaster that dragged me up and dropped me down from great heights. Then there was a mid-life plateau in my ride until I realized: Strong minds change one’s emotions whereas weak minds allow emotions to change their ideologies. If you want to understand yourself and experience clearer, more intense emotions, you have to examine all that is unconscious about your changes in emotional states. By examining your own behavior and refining your reactions, emotions become a playground, not a roller coaster."

"Are you saying you’re just happy all the time?"

"I’m not happy all the time, but whenever I’m not, I know it’s my own damn fault. I used to blame other people, events and situations for my subtle discomforts and unhappiness. Blame the cook for bad food, the waiter for serving it slowly, blame the other people in line, blame the other cars in traffic, blame the government for not reading my mind, blame my friends and family for the shortcomings I created: blame my father for being so aggressive, my mother for being so passive, my whole extended family for being so sheltered. It’s so embarrassingly easy to find reasons why others cause your unhappiness. The real challenge is accepting the truth - the truth that every time you feel anything but utter bliss, it’s your own damn fault. Every single time I feel any emotion other than happiness, I see a deeper problem about myself."

 "You think? Maybe sometimes it really is someone else’s fault. The world isn't necessarily a wonderful place all the time."

"Yes it is! And it doesn't matter anyway. Even a crippled, Jewish, blind, mute can find reason enough to smile through the holocaust. There’s always someone whose daily plight is far worse than your trivial trifles, someone who dreams of the very life you complain about, and I never forget that. I force myself to think of the hungry, homeless, slaves and other tortured souls around me and throughout history. Then my problems solve themselves and I’m even grateful for them. You know one’s lot in life by the things they complain about, and I can only laugh at my peers problems concerning life, love, work, or politics - it all sounds like finicky sniveling and unnecessary negativity surrounding their incredibly fortunate existence. Even the hungry and homeless can be thankful for their lives at every moment, for like all of Us, they could never have been born, and one day will be their last.”

“You’re right, but it’s so easy to forget your good fortune.”

“Don’t let yourself forget! Remind yourself of the embarrassing triviality of all your problems every single time you selfishly indulge in some negative emotion. Remind yourself that you co-author the creation of your occurring world as it occurs to you and that every time you manifest bliss from your being, you transcend the bonds of your emotional baggage. Some people's bliss is so buried beneath pre-conceptions and expectations that situations appealing to their ideals rarely occur. They have a hundred reasons why they can't be happy Now. And they'll always have a hundred reasons why they can't be happy Now. Because instead of surrendering to a state of constant appreciation, they would rather judge every situation and right the wrongs of their hundred reasons. But in reality, they are emotional prisoners of their own opinions and all the justice or justification in the world will never bring prolonged happiness. They reason that their current path will lead to future success - the problem isn't their future ideals, it's that there is no path and there is no future. The only place to manifest your perfection is in the present, and it's here every moment residing in resounding perfection regardless of your regrets."

"I agree. But how and why are you to assume all bliss or blisslessness is self-induced?"

"Because all emotion and opinion is self-induced! Opinionless people essentially have free-access to all emotions at any time. Haven't you ever met a cyborg? They say all art is emotion and believe emotion itself is an art. One cyborg Author wrote in the book Situational Aesthetics that emotion is the real-time reactive output of pre-conceived opinions on the human psyche. No person, problem, event, or other predicament causes your emotional reactions. The pre-conceptions and expectations you bring to every situation cause the roller coaster effect. Minds free of pre-conceptions and expectations have an eternal emotional playground in the Present."

"Before you said to consider potential problems before they become problematic. Now you're saying pre-conceptions cause the problems. Which is it?"

"Both of those, or neither, whatever works for you. The real problem is seeing life's inherent peccadilloes as anything but the spice of your existence."

"Still, sometimes the idea of total Presence seems depressing. What about having a positive future outlook and healthy expectations? Don't you ever look forward to anything?"

"The happiest people rarely reminisce or look forward, my boy. They’re not sentimental or regretful or vengeful or depressed because those emotions require unhealthy pre-occupation with the past. They also aren’t anxious, worried, wishful or fatalistic about the future. They’re realistic about the Present and in touch with any change that occurs. You should be Present enough not to bother with future prediction, but if you must indulge the compulsion for expectation, then I say expect the worst because it makes you more comfortable in the face of your fears and shows the futility of all future thought. Everyone’s going to be disappointed in life: your fast food’s gonna come slowly, your best friend’s gonna sleep with your wife, your parents are gonna tell you you’re adopted, and then you and everyone you’ve ever met will die. But there’s no need to attach an emotional reaction to these destined disappointments. I say expect disappointment, expect death, and every time you’re not disappointed or live another day, rejoice at the glimpses of unexpected beauty you’re shown between disappointments."

“You’re very cynical for an optimist.”

“Yeah, I say the glass is half there.”

“The glass is all there. It’s the water that's in question.”

“That’s how you see it.”

“No. It’s relevant to the metaphor.”

“No. I assure you, We only see half the glass, so it’s the water that’s irrelevant.” A tiny lamb runs up to them. Joseph picks it up and Asbestos pets it.


"Walk with me a while while I impart a part of me upon you. Here's a one-step process to happiness. Make a game with your brain. Every single time you feel even slightly slighted, how immediately can you forgive? Forgive the object of your unhappiness, the person, place or thing you think caused your unhappiness. Forgive it's nature and your thoughts about it. Then forget. You can always choose to hold a grudge, seek vengeance, repentance, apology or another form of retribution, but ultimately they all lead to further suffering. Immediate and unconditional forgiveness is the only one tried and true option for inner-peace and happiness. How quickly can you forgive annoyance, irresponsibility, negligence, stupidity - your own included? At first you'll probably find forgiveness irritating but soon realize that it's your brain's incessant fault finding that needs true forgiveness. You'll learn that your comfortable acceptance of other's short-comings, that listener's silence of thought, your perfect attention becomes the loudest voice positively penetrating yours and other's thoughts and actions.

When others accuse you, blame you, criticize you or try to reduce you in any way, though they’re unconscious of it, are really just trying to prove themselves and persuade people to be more like them. Likewise when you do these things it is to fulfill your impulsive desire to be right, and to make the world more like your mind, even though it's a selfish habit that inhibits happiness. The ability not to think or feel while someone is belittling you, to watch their angry, red, contorted faces twisting, spewing saliva and cursing everything sacred, to listen and not judge, not to react even in thought, this is true virtue. Only from here can positive action truly manifest itself. All other action is just creative deflection of the phlegm ball into someone else’s face. You can spend your life being right about the things that have wronged you, or you can right the wrongs instantly by refusing to think about them. If you're being accused, blamed, or criticized, just like your brain flips the feed from your eyes right-side up, always flip the negative feed from your ears, knowing non-resistance is forgiveness and that’s the love We all live for.”


"Here's the key to having lasting, rewarding relationships with everyone you know: become best friends with your parents. Always tell them the truth. Not the non-confrontational, censored, sound of silence, moral high-ground type of truth, but your exact thoughts as you think them - that kind of truth. Maintain this level of communication and understanding with your parents and all other interpersonal relations will seem simple. Your parents have the most dirt on you and you on them, so if you can shower them with brutal honesty and come out clean, everyone else is pie."

"I don't know my parents. How do you advise an orphan toward more rewarding relationships?"

"Well, forget the parents part. Let me tell you about my most rewarding relationship. Mary. I found myself in her - right where I’d lost it. I was never lonely until she came and left. All Our shared emotions, late night conversations heard only by Our ears, all Our ideas and dreams We formed an entity composed of Our every experience together called Our relationship, felt in part by both of Us but it’s totality by neither of Us. Our creation existed in abstraction like a mental monument of Our achievements so unfathomably beautiful no one could believe it. No three could believe it either. Only other twos could possibly comprehend the intimate connection formed by such friendship. And then she left. Very quickly, with few words, and I let her.

We had sex one time and never again. She became incredibly paranoid about AIDS, STD's, pregnancy, and her ultra-conservative parents' reaction if her sexuality was discovered. Naturally, as feared, We both contracted HIV, gave each other herpes, she got pregnant, and her parents completely flipped-out. The medication, belly swelling, mood swings, and morning sickness convinced everyone else of her pregnancy, but through it all Mary insisted she'd never had sex. To this day I'm sure she'd claim virginity. By the time Our son was born, she was already in such a state of denial that she called him her gift from God. She'd say things like, isn't he just immaculate? Ultimately, her parents wouldn't allow Us to see each other or keep the baby, so he was placed in an orphanage."

"Where was that?" Asbestos asks excitedly.

"I'm not sure. Mary might know. I haven't seen her in almost thirty years, but I hear she still frequents the bars inner-city. But the point to my story is this: My most rewarding relationship resulted in three broken hearts. The glass is half there.”

1 comment:

  1. thanks for posting this eric. really sounds like a good book[: