© 2019 Drew T. Noll

Monday, October 12, 2015

Horn of Plenty



Racing down the freeway on the wrong side of the road with an Afrikaner at the wheel, who happened to be grumbling about the other drivers and the poor state of affairs that the country had fallen into, was an interesting, to say the least, introduction to South Africa. We had just come out of the Botswana bush, visiting Zambia and Zimbabwe to see both sides of one of the natural wonders of the world… named for Victoria. We had just camped in the bush of Botswana with elephants ripping trees, hyenas sniffing, badgers digging, and lions roar-mumbling through our camp of dome tents. It's hard to recall every experience, but, while in Zambia, I do recall a large group of baboons robbing a train of its tubers and fruit while it waited. They just ripped open the plastic tarpaulins of the open cars and feasted upon what they found. I remember the falls, too. Even with low water-flow due to drought they were magnificent. I remember the French tourists with fancy luggage that didn't have enough US dollars to get from Zimbabwe to Zambia. And I remember the hippo outside our tented room at night, munching methodically across the lawn.

At the time I had no idea that at the back of my mind lurked an armored cow with an Eastern horn of plenty. This creature of mythos and grandeur was filled with patience, it seems in hindsight. As we barreled down through the paper-pulp forest, as explained by our guide behind the wheel, we found it necessary to put up with the hauntings of so-called reality, as usual, but knew deep down that we were waiting for the real world to violently split the butt-seam of our waking world. Rhinos existed in the wild, but, so, so sadly... not for long. We asked our mad driver, but he replied with cryptic references. We didn't understand, yet, that he had been instructed to do so by the social fabric of the eco-tourist board of directors. We just felt that we had asked impertinent questions about rhinos… in the wild. I began to feel set upon, and immediately began to question if this was an anti-Israel thing, or at least an anti-American one. We had arrived back into the civilized world from the bush of Africa and were greeted by awkward conflagrations and suspicion. Or… was it just my own mind playing its tricks on me...

Arriving at our destination in Kruger, the Sabi Sands, we were greeted by some very interesting people, one, in particular, a large man that was introduced as the son of our madman chauffeur and proprietor for the next week. We witnessed this son only one more time, sitting around the South African campfire behind modified grammar school desks and eating our plates of food, while they watched, one leg up on the fire pit between us. I ordered a beer: everyone else…? Yes, a mineral water or soft drink. I felt that they had me, at that point, right where they wanted me, but I wasn't playing their game, now, was I…? They didn't know how to categorize me, after all. Was I from Israel or the US? Was I a Jew or a Goy? Was I an eco-tourist or an ego-tourist? There were many questions that I perceived circling the enclosure, swirling in and around that fire pit…

It wasn't until the next day that we realized something was terribly, terribly wrong. We seemed to be at the wrong camp altogether. I mean, it had a different name and everything… So we moved. I was so pleased to see our new guide once we arrived that I completely forgot about the round South African good-ol-boy standing to the left of the mad driver proprietor, part of the trio that night around the schoolyard campfire. The new folks were awesome, actually parting with information about the rhino problem in South Africa: There were human beasts lurking in the woods around us, we were told. These beasts were the ramifications of a world gone mad, a world embracing chaos. With up to 90% unemployment in neighboring countries, the rhinos were easy pickings for the desperate survivalists that had been forged within civil war and abandonment. Poachers prospered, but the middle-men made a killing selling their wares to the East.

Big East business deals were toasted with the stuff, this horn of plenty, in their champagne flutes. The horn of the rhino meant more than just an animal's useless appendage. It meant wealth and status. It meant human ego. And, it was a sign of the destruction of our little blue world floating in space. It signaled the end of all we call us. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, it seems… Suffice it to say that when I finally arrived back at my home base on the planet, I was able to see through the fog and put some of these pieces together. There was a war brewing… no, not brewing… underway.

We see it as only dark and light, black and white, but that is so, so wrong. It's not about our limited senses as it comes to our physical environment; it's always been about the spaces between, the electron subterfuge that permeates quantum physics, the mystical stop and go haunting our waking dreams. I speak to you now as an almost 53 year old adult male that has spent his life seeking the unknown reason for existence. I am a lost soul, a lost spark, separated from the truth of our existence. I seek, every day, to find a path back to this awesome reality. I seek, but only find window panes, door cracks, and effervescent half-understandings of the truth. I am alone, but ironically I am One with all of creation…

The terror attacks that have been fomenting chaos all around me, back in my home base of Israel, seem to be the same exact phenomenon as the rhino poaching problem in Africa. The haves have, and the have-nots want. These terrorists are being paid, whether it is an eastern business man, or a middle-eastern father of 3 with an extra kitchen knife. The worth of the physical outweighs the worth of the truth; a depressing inevitability, but sadly one that rings true. When it comes to survival, emotional, psychological, physical, the truth is unrequited and unwanted: we are utterly alone.

May the fallen find refuge in the world to come, may the bereaved find solace while still in this world, and may mankind discover the real truth of our existence: that we are all ONE!

Shavua tov.

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