Friday, August 29, 2014

I nominated George Washington for the ice bucket challenge

Yesterday I remembered all of a sudden that back in the early 2000s, after 9/11 ... maybe 2003 or 2004? ... I offered the ice bucket challenge to George Washington. Yes, I did. It had nothing to do with ALS.

We were in the Iraqi/Afghanistani wars by then. I was still doing a lot of magic, especially at that time with the geometrical layout of DC. I was reading voraciously about our founding fathers, and the Masons.

I invoked the wisdom of the founding fathers all the time back then. Seems funny to remember since the founding fathers were a bunch of cantankerous, argumentative trouble makers. They had high ideals and were all, each in his own way, intractable. Why in the world was I invoking that? Now I can't remember - I think it came from a feeling of desperation.

During that period I spent a lot of time at the Lincoln Memorial, also the Washington Monument. I went down to Mount Vernon a number of times, stood at the new tomb to see if I could have a conversation with George. I never connected with the new tomb where he and Martha's bones are laid to rest. I was drawn, time and again, to the old tomb.

Washington's old tomb.

Attempts to have a conversation were fruitless. I sensed a presence but was unable to forge a connection back through time to it. In my mind, George and Martha were sleeping a little too peacefully. One day I climbed on top of the tomb, where I stood up and poured a liter of ice cold water from an Evian bottle on the top of the tomb. I held the bottle high so the water splashed and crashed. There were a few ice cubes too that hit the ground on top of the tomb with a thud. I was not asked to leave, which is even more surprising when I remember I was chanting WAKE UP, WAKE UP, WAKE UP!!

After that I got off the roof of the tomb and listened. My sense was of grogginess, thick, uncoordinated lips that can not articulate. You know how your eyes burn when you have to get up in the middle of the night to catch a plane or something? It felt like that. What I believe he was trying to say was, "Go away. I gave my sword to Congress. I was done then and I'm done now."

Well, ok then.

After the total disaster of trying to wake up George Washington, I decided to have a go with Lincoln. At the monument I couldn't get anywhere near close enough to his enormous statue to spill ice water on him. Besides, I wanted the ice water on his head. I briefly considered using a squirt gun but then I remembered how he died. That was the end of that.

I was going to pour ice water over the head of Thomas Jefferson's bust in the gift shop/restroom area underneath the memorial but as I gazed at his face and remembered how complicated he was, I thought better of the wake up call. May he rest in peace.

It wasn't the last time I would involve myself with the sudden collision of human head and ice water. In fact this slapstick performance art piece is something I used to great advantage when I was emerging from the world of witchery.  The effect I was going for is similar to what happens in movies when someone is hysterical or in some kind of doze, fainting after an injury or from hearing bad news. In the old black and white movies, someone else gives the hysterical person a sharp slap across the face. They immediately snap out of it. Slapping myself in the face did not appeal. I remembered that sometimes, in movies, drinks are tossed in faces. It always has the same sobering, awakening impact.

While I was extricating myself from my witchiness, I needed the bracing effect of icy beverages in my face, apparently. I wanted to wake up, and lighten up. Indeed a drink tossed in one's own face is funny. It was also sometimes sticky, depending on what I was drinking when I got in a mood to douse myself. I worked hard to become a Muggle, I surely did. Never quite got all the way there, but I'm close enough for jazz these days.

I remembered this yesterday, at the Washington Monument. Now I understand exactly why I have been so enthused about the ice bucket challenge, also why I've been insistent it's about much more than ALS. That an enormous number of people have suddenly begun doing what I was up to all those years ago is rather thrilling.

When I did the bucket challenge last week, this was my prayer:

May we awaken
May cooler heads prevail in 
Gaza, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Iraq
May Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever subside
May we awaken
May I awaken

May the founding fathers rest in peace. Those of us still living? May we wake up! May it be so!


  1. I love that last photo! May we all awaken, indeed.

    I'm not sure the founding fathers would have much to contribute regarding the current state of the world. Their world was SO different. But who knows?

  2. I do wonder what they would say. I want them to come back and revise the right to bear arms. I feel like they would do that.

    Also love the last pic!

    1. Who knows what they would say? They would probably get into an argument about gun rights, just as we do now. Sigh.