Men staring at middle fingers (their own, and very intently).
The practice of men staring at their middle fingers must not be confused with men staring at goats. On the surface the two practices seem to be very similar especially in that they are both very intense and very private affairs, (you find the practitioners isolating themselves away from other people in dark rooms or sheds or sitting alone on a boulder in the bush). But the ultimate goal of the starrer at goats and the starrer at middle fingers is as different as fingers from goats.
Naturally, the staring at someone else’s middle finger (especially in cases of road rage) is again something quite different and not to be confused with the intense staring of the serious practitioner of the staring-intensely-at-own-middlefinger league of men(although you might catch the odd middle finger starrer staring at his own middle finger in the midst of a bad traffic-jam).
The staring-at-goats phenomenon is based on the (hilariously wrong) assumption that the starrer will eventually and somehow be able to control the mental activities of the goat and thus get it to do whatever the starrer wants it to do, things like to dance, to play dead or walk on its hind legs. Real magical stuff to ultimately use on the enemy on the battle field, presumably to get them to think they are goats and to get them to dance to your tune, to play dead on demand or to walk on their hands to the amusement of the President in the White House.
In stark contrast with the goat starrers, the middle finger starrer is singularly intent on self-control. He will not stare at a goat, or at someone else’s middle finger for that matter. His sole concern is his own middle finger, and the ultimate goal is to lose his head in the process. Seriously.
On having no head.
It is early morning and you are driving to work. At the T-junction you stop at the robot. On the other side of the T-junction there is an open veld, a lush green marshland with a couple of weeping willows in it. The occasional early bird flutters around … and suddenly you realise you have no head. Where your head used to be, there is now only open grassland and willows and birds.
Confused and on the verge of becoming hysterical, you let go of the steering wheel and grab at your head with both hands. To your utter relief you find the hair covered ball of bone you have been calling your head for the past couple of decades, still squirrely planted in the middle of your shoulders.
For the rest of the day you touch your head from time to time just to make sure it is still there. You even casually ask a friend if he could still see your face (at the same time noting the confusion on his face while he is fleetingly considering your sanity for having to ask such a stupid question).
So what the hell happened? And what do you do? Well, you go home and Google “On having no Head” because you can vaguely remember that somewhere in your very remote, very innocent past you read something, written by someone that had something to do with losing your head (in the literal sense of the word and not as in when engaged in an red hot verbal duel to the death with your mother-in-law where you start kicking her cat, overturning her furniture and calling her an old hag, and then feeling very sorry for “having lost your head” the next day, but sadly it is water under the bridge and mother-in-law will not talk to you for the rest of your life … unless she somehow, somewhere in the future(and before she kills you in cold blood) have the peculiar experience of having no head, in which case she will immediately forgive you and you will live happily and serenely ever after .)
‘On Having No Head’: Douglas Harding
‘The best day of my life – my rebirthday, so to speak – was when I found I had no head.’ He writes.
‘What actually happened was absurdly simple and unspectacular: just for the moment I stopped thinking. Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down. For once words failed me. I forgot my name, my humanness, my thingness, all that could be called me or mine. Past and future dropped away. It was as if I had been born that instant,’
‘I had lost a head and gained a world.’
‘This Way puts headlessness – alias seeing into Nothingness – at the very start of the spiritual life.’
En nou lê daar `n baie lang pad voor, en daar is nie genoeg tyd nie.
Go and read Douglas Harding … if you dare, and stare at your middle finger … if you dare. (Or you could keep up the fight with your mother-in-law. You will gain nothing and you know it, but what the hell, it is more exciting than staring at your middle finger – or at goats for that matter. Or is it?)
But before you go off to read Harding, take an intense look at your middle finger and see what happens to your head. Go on, do it now.