The Counterfeit



The midday sun streamed through the sun-porch windows, in a trendy little cafe on the southern edge of Taos, New Mexico.

He stood in line in front of me – as rotund and rosy as the sun itself, his bald head glistening, seemingly a source of its own radiant energy. As he waited for his hummus-avocado salad, and, I for my carrot juice, he turned toward me to make conversation.

“Who is this Susana Martinez and why is she so often pictured on the front page of the newspaper?”

“She’s the governor,” I responded.

“The governor of what state?” he inquired.

“New Mexico. So .  .  . I guess that you don’t live in the area?”

“I moved here last November, but, I don’t pay attention to politics anymore,” he offered in self-defense.

He proceeded to explain to me that he had served for years in military intelligence; that he was trained to program computers and had worked for a high-tech corporation in Michigan; that he had been called by a higher power to move to Taos to build pyramid greenhouses; that his great-grandmother was Cherokee and had marched along the Trail of Tears; that he was preparing to design his beaded medicine shirt and bag; that he was living in a solar house on the edge of town and was about to host a gathering of Cherokee medicine people.

He wore a beaded neckpiece that accentuated the bulk of his Buddha-like body.

It contained claws and fangs and teeth of several unidentifiable animals. Claws - Two Illustrated + Crystal I wanted to stare at it and determine its origins, but, it frightened me.

I looked away, the claws scratching at my memory, and, wondered just how many animals had sacrificed their various powers to enhance his soul.

Orotund of speech

Rotund of body

Obscenely voluptuous of embellishment .  .  .

.  .  . he conjured up images of a counterfeit trinity.

He followed me to the register and continued pontificating about pyramids; their powers; his travels around Egypt, around the world; his spiritual need to learn bead weaving so that he could complete his shirt and bag. Medicine Pouch I told him I was a bead artist.

He bought a loom in Michigan. Would I teach him to weave?

What kind of leather should he buy?

How should the beadwork be applied?

And then, like a grace note in the conversation: “Oh, by the way, I like your gentle spirit.”

Damn. How many times have I heard this comment?

How many times have I seen this pleading loneliness in the eyes grabbing mine?

How many times have I felt this clinging desperation in the handshake? The desire to hold on, the urge to fall to the knees in reverent worship?

He continued his staccato speech, to speak of his ancestors, and I became confused. My ancestors orphaned me at a young age.

I don’t understand this consuming passion to look backward for self-identity. Why this need to beg/steal/borrow from others when we each have all we need within .  .  . right here and now.

I am mystified by the complications when it is really so simple.

We exchanged business cards. I agreed to teach him how to weave beads; he hungrily accepted the offer to engage in the sacred process.

What shall I tell him when he calls?

Will I try to explain that the creator gave us silica, and, through its molten state glass can vitrified and cut and shaped and colored into small seed beads, and, that by stringing them onto lengths of nylon thread, they can be woven:

line by line

bead by bead

onto a nylon warp that resembles the strings of a harp. It’s music really:

one note

one bead

a composition of sound

a composition of images

developing on a basic gridwork .  .  .

it’s tedious

it’s simple

it’s humble work

It requires: Patience, diligence and heartfelt dedication


it’s not magic

it’s not complicated

it’s a gift

that we can receive when we open ourselves up. When we be receivers, we can transmit the gift .  .  .

it’s a simple act

it’s a humble act of surrender

its potential

lies within each of us.

Why look elsewhere?

Why complicate the process?

Why create confusion and mystery and darkness?

Why reverence the objects? The artists?

Why steal when it’s free?

It really is just a simple act of grace, but, how shall I tell him?

7 responses »

  1. “Oh, by the way, I like your gentle spirit.” Such a great pickup line we could so easily fall for. I like how you redirect what this man (and ALL of us) needs in response: it’s not magic, it’s not complicated, it’s a gift, that we can receive when we open ourselves up. When we be receivers, we can transmit the gift, it’s a simple act, it’s a humble act of surrender, its potential, lies within each of us. What a super reminder, jayni! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To look backward for self identity. Mmm. Guilty. Got me thinking. Maybe you’re right. And yet I cannot deny I do. Why? You raise such valuable questions in this vivid story. I thought about it all night. I haven’t a clever answer, maybe an honest one. Then framed me. Whether by desire or error, and whilst I have grown beyond the frame, I refer to it like the beginning of a map, to get by bearings. Maybe this is a weakness, maybe a fragility from the clay we individually are made from. Some do seem stronger in sun. But equally, strength comes in varied form. Much to think on. My favorite post. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Candice, for your poignant, profound and bravely honest response. I’m deeply touched that this piece raised much for you to contemplate. I know, as I reread it, I reassess myself. I see my own weaknesses of leaning backward for support. But, through recognizing weaknesses, I think that I’m strengthened to move forward and gradually loosen my white-knuckle grips on my “self identity.” I’m learning to see each day that I’ve created a rigid pattern of identity for myself out of self-protection. And, in all honesty, I think my core-being really is far more fluid and creative . . . I just need to relax and make a space for the universal power of creativity to flow in. Then the true “me” can emerge.
      Just my thoughts for the moment . . . thanks again for sharing yours!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are right. Rigidity prevents growth. Your white knuckle prevents growth. Last night as I thought about your excellent post I could see that. I am not sure I have the fortitude and strength to be without past definition but I’m certain your wise words are true. We limit only by what shackles we accept. You are an excellent thinker and I loved that post. It has really made me think. Thank you for your wisdom xx

        Liked by 1 person

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