On Mars, humans will become the scary aliens, with the funny ears and hats, odd noses, silly butts, buggy eyes, unhinged flapping jaws. They, not you and me, sort of, not yet, unless you just can’t wait and are getting a head start inside of your private head, will be unable to speak the language, inhale the dust, exhale the gas, increase the mass, control the flow, regulate the speed, dribble, penetrate, procreate in tubes. Much back end compensation will require attitudinal adjustment from the rear up. Not even Elon Musk knows yet what he will learn later.
Keen awareness of what is, was, and will be, in simultaneity, can get awfully tricky. You might foolishly bump into vertical walls before knowing what hit and where. Forget why. That gets you nowhere, which is where you might become mightily stuck while traversing the wrong opaque rut. Why, you probably believe that your nose is just fine and dandy just the way it is, not was, with no more tinkering needed after the ordeal of surgery, and the intermittent misery of seclusion during recovering, and before the next fall, ha, ha. Hence, the feigned beatitude, ha, ha.
The tawny owl has said to me on numerous appropriate occasions, “It don’t mean a thing if you can’t feel that zing.”
I was listening on the edge of the forest under a redwood tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains to the call and response that might plausibly have been rebounding from Mars as a thousand owls howled in the complex dissonance they often launch into early morning orbit. These were no simple cartoony hoots. They rarely are. If not Mars, maybe the response was rebounding from the vicinity of Glide Memorial Church in the nitty gritty Tenderloin of San Francisco on Sunday morning. The nightly hunt had been satisfying and juicy and the streets were slick with an icky film. The nascent shape of the day was harmonic and sigmoidal but even I could tell that uppity developments were wriggling in an atonal wave that was cresting at high tide. Pharaoh Sanders was loose on flute blowing out of my window.
Listening attentively to the utmost of my limited ability was the most I could muster, though I felt strongly as if I played my small but important role by stepping away from the edge on a regular basis and not tumbling into any beckoning abyss..
Behind me I observed an army from the government destroying vital clover habitat that was formerly populated by not quite a million bees. I’d seen another army just like it just the other day. The day was dark and they were clad in camo, trying like the darn dickens to blend in. Even I can remember when a small number like a million used to amount to a whole lot more. The malodorous spray drifted in the tainted breeze like backfiring ammunition, clotting tangled arteries in leaden limbs. The civic soldiers mistakenly believed they were protected by their silly masks and odd noses.
The tawny owl suddenly appeared above me, as he is wont to do, and not only to addled prey before pouncing, and said, “I been hearing you goin’ to Mars.”
I replied, nearly in reverb, “You did? But how? Or what I mean is where? You must have heard from a second hand source that is less reliable than me. No one like that appears presciently at this location.”
I know and have become accustomed to the documented fact that the tawny owl can read my mind. But can he also read into my mind what is not there yet and merely embedded in what is yet to emerge into the so-called future?
“Would you please be sure to clue me in on which matters of relevance occur next?”
The tawny owl, along with his best astral traveling buds, the studly beavers Berton and Burton, has sped metaphysically past Mars many times. But with no trees sprouting in the poisonous dust there was little incentive to pause for reflection.
I asked him, often, “Is there really a better world far out there?”
He said, “Don’t stop, keep going.”
“I think an advertising agency stole that line from you.”
“They made a deal to be bought out by an opportunistic political party.”
Once all the bees down here are relocated from their blossoms by wily bulldozers, real estate values will plummet to unfathomable depths. Fault lines will open wide and gobble heaps of gunk. The unfathomable towers that rise in place will stick up where the sun don’t shine. The murderers will rest on plastic stools with remote controls that ratchet the heat higher. Loads of oily sludge will be spread on the slick tarmac as a poor man’s replacement for value. Believe me, it will resemble no idyllic Mars. Picture Shanghai in July without the compensatory dumplings.
I cannot deny that I might like to check out a way station as far out there as Mars, and flit like an independent free radical in a cosmic storm, as long as the guaranteed tether is air tight like the Titanic, and the ticket to ride is round trip at a subsidized fare. You’d have to be as crazy as a coot or a loon to look a prime gift horse like that in the mouth.
It was just another glaring day like any other not long after that when I was standing in a long line to have my fitness for far out travel assessed. At the end of the line a doctor grabbed me by the neck and felt for a big lump in my throat that was bobbing like an unripe apple. I believe I coughed on command before he reached for my balls. He flashed a translucent whiteboard in front of me with a Rorschach trademark etched into a tasteful matte finish.
He said, “This Rorschach you see in front of you is not a test. I repeat, this is not a test.”
I said, “What is it?”
He said, “What do you think it is?”
I began to think, and not for the first time, that I might be being used here as a specimen by unseen forces. I pulled my pants up on principle, no sagging. I intended to make sure to keep my eye on that finger being waved around. I did not feel entirely comfortable with the direction that finger was taking. .
I said to the doctor, “Whatever you find, none of it is my fault.”
I was wearing not only pants that were a dingy grey that looked green in clear light, but a shirt with sleeves, including descriptive lettering front and back, and shoes with laces that could be tied up tightly. This doctor was the funny looking one if you ask me.
He said “I see.”
The front of my shirt read, Eat Meat at Joe’s. The back of my shirt read, Get It While You Can. I said, “I’ve discovered a number of pertinent categories that may be of some assistance in the Diagnostic and Staistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, (DSM-IV-TR).
He drew a second line on his whiteboard, and then a third. Subtly, the lines began to diverge. He handed me a bubbly vial and said, “For a limited time only, drinks are on the house.”
“Is it happy hour?”
“Your bottomless cup runneth over.”
“I am starting to feel with disturbingly more certainty that I have been thrust out here to be used by forces beyond my control.”
He said, “Enjoy your ride.”
“Do you have any fresh clover honey to help sweeten this elixir?”