Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hells Angels

My younger son was watching a TV show about the Hells Angels yesterday and I sat down to watch too. Hells Angels is a gathering of motorcyclists whose violence sustains their interests in guns, drugs and turf. The show was ostensibly about an undercover cop who infiltrated Hells Angels ranks. There was a solemn voice-over that stitched the show together. The voice was filled with a view that lawlessness was bad. But the show itself -- the fact that it had been created and appealed to some viewing constituency -- had something inviting and 'good' about it.

As far as I could figure out, what was compelling and alluring about it was composed of 1. good and bad were depicted in simple-to-understand terms and 2. there was something nice about belonging to something that enforced its brotherhood and unity is clear-cut terms: Betray us and we will kill you; stick with us and we will care for you in no uncertain terms.

How forceful loneliness and social connection are. How compelling the world of uncertainty is. How wonderful to have found a home that does not wobble or waffle or shift like some restless ocean. How peaceful to have defied and defended yourself against the changing landscapes that life insists upon.

Of course many people choose a Hells Angels prism that does not involve doing overt harm to others. Religion, perhaps, or philosophy, or a suburban lifestyle or a cause that promises a happy outcome. But a part of the object of such choices seems to rest on the fear of living alone, dying alone, and having no companion to talk to.

The visceral knowledge that we cannot share experience seems to encourage the effort to do just that. Everything changes -- always. We cannot share experience. It is too lonely a landscape. Where is my Hells Angels heaven -- my home in which I can rely and relax?

It takes a bit of effort to think this through. Even approaching the topic may be more spooky than we have courage for. No one else seems to be doing it, why should I? Let me rely on my boon companions and feel the warmth ... even as I know we cannot share experience and everything changes.

But a question that crossed my mind this morning was this: What ever made us suppose we were alone in the first place? What ever made us suppose that because we cannot share experience we could possibly not share experience? What presumption makes any of this true?

And I guess the answer is just "me." Me in my Hells Angels clothing. Me with my elevated or debased choices. Me looking for happiness and home among all the others doing the same.

Me ... I wonder who that might be. Me who has hopes and fears and longings and loneliness. Who might this "me" be? Who is this "me" who asserts, "I gotta be me" or "I yam what I yam?" Who is this "me" who finds meaning and explanation and home?

It's not an easy question, perhaps, but it may ease the burden to know everyone else is asking exactly the same thing.

As the old refrigerator magnet used to proclaim, "Your life is so difficult that it has never been tried before."

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