Sympathy for a Lonely Devil. ~ Matthew David Bade

Via Matthew David Bade
on Aug 17, 2013
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Sympathy for a Lonely Devil - Illustration - Yin Yang 

Black. White. Shadow. Light. What’s the difference?

When I was a kid my grandfather spoke of justice; I was taught in elementary school about sin; certain words weren’t allowed at the dinner table; and smelling good was advised over smelling like a ripe armpit.

“Our impulses grip us more than we know,” I was instructed the other day, “and the majority of these motivations are often clever manifestations of a biological imperative stronger than any force.”

“Even love?” I beckoned.

“Yes, even that precious four-letter word,” she declared.

“Alright,” I agreed, “I’m listening,” I said—with a tinge of regret.


“You see, the world is shaking . . . wildly. Standing up it seems level, but if you bend down low and look to the horizon, even the flattest wheat field in Kansas will undulate like the dorsal fin of a Humuhumunukunukuapua’a—Hawaii’s state fish, you know?

“Not sure I quite . . . follow,” I said, now questioning the mental faculties of this elderly woman beside me on a log spanning two creeks—at the mouth of an emerald-green, bowl-shaped lake in Central Oregon; a solo hiker, clad in black.

“My point,” she poked, demanding my attention like a true vampire, “is what I’m showing you right now.”

“Which is what?” I asked sideways, a bit wary of this loner.

Is” she asked, “what I’m telling you stronger than what I’m showing you?”

“Um . . .” I answered weakly, “No?”

“You bet your ass not!” she barked. “Listen,” her brow tightened, “do you think I can’t see your fear, and you sizing me up? Let me say it again, this time more explicitly—


Show. Don’t tell.”


“Ma’am, forgive me, I have no idea where you are going with this.”

“Yes you do. You just doubt yourself. All stories are the same, boy.”


“You see,” she bestowed vigorously, “the transgressions perpetrated upon the Hawaiians and their islands . . . the Dust Bowl and virgin plains ravaged . . . greed, wheat and our beloved black gold, eh? No different than a gluten-free vegan shaman, ah? And Guru, please, for Ganesha’s sake, follow a linear and logical path, won’t you?”

I looked on in pure stupefaction, mouth agape, wondering why this whack-job landed in my lap.

“Please don’t hurt me or be too clever,” she whispered, looking dead in my eyes.

“Ma’am, I have no intention of hurt-”

Of course you don’t, boy—I know!” she cut. “That rant,” pointing to the water beneath us rushing its way to the lake, “was about soup. It’s all soup. Or stew, if you prefer—” she said with a smirk, “there’s no difference.”

“I, uh, have heard that before. Yes, the universe is soup,” replying timidly.

“Sure, but do you know it?”

“Apparently not,” I tried.


“This whole time you have been reacting to my humanness,” she said. “My nature. My biology unsettling you—with force. However, I’ve simply been telling you a story. Just one of an infinite number of stories which essentially says that of every other. Which is what? That all things are alike everything else. The wheat fields, the triggerfish; my tired legs after this hike; your suspicion of me; even love . . . it’s all a big bowl of biological soup—crafted by the stuff of survival and that pesky, persistent imperative we call life. You see, whether you choose good or bad makes no ultimate difference. Why? Because the story goes on either way. But more importantly, because we are the master creators of both. In other words, our frequencies create our images. This isn’t news, boy. Whatever you think always becomes your experience. Period. And I’m not talking about the relentless thoughts puddling on your mind’s surface. Not your silly inner monologue. No, I’m speaking of what you think with your whole body—those deeply buried undercurrents of the soul; that voice which is often hard to hear and readily renounced because its truth is too damn frightening. But below even that, believe it or not, is still just the wacky way of this world demanding itself indiscriminately. The human world of duality and separateness, which . . . you understand are both illusions, right?” asking with steel-eyed deliberation. “Ah, my boy, but do you know that, too? Do you?

“If so, then you’d understand unity with every electromagnetic pulse in and about your body. You would see, hear, smell, taste, love, hate, fear, anticipate, bemoan, and welcome it. You wouldn’t question anything in terms of opposites. Wrong-right, win-lose, happy-sad, pleasure-pain, light-shadow . . . nonsense! You would see no ultimate consequences given your choices. None. Not even death. Rather, you would know that it’s just soup in a bowl. And your life? Whether conducted with piety or apathy, deemed by others a success or failure . . . matters not at all. Not slightly or in any grand scheme. You would see your actions, however high-minded, renowned, spiritual or nihilistic . . . however lauded or chastised, are all merely elaborate hoaxes on you in the form of personal beliefs . . . and as directed by the unforgiving impulses of your exquisite, prejudice-free biology. An omnivital biology, if you will, set upon the three simple and well-known organizing principles of animal behavior: seeking pleasure, avoiding pain and conserving energy.

“Do you see? That what you call religion and love is simply survival in disguise? Darwin, eh? Given that . . . can you forgive Hitler now? Hmm? Can you find hate for Gandhi? It’s just life, boy, on life’s terms. Just a slew of bleeding hearts trying not to ache while they plead to pass on their genes. We don’t know what comes after our jaunt here, if anything. Many believe they do, and they may be right, but those narratives are not as self-evident as my moving lips, the water below us, or the rest of this soup,” her arms waving like ladles. “In that case, and as it’s been said by an artist of our time—it makes much more sense, then, to live in the present tense. Ya’ know?


“Boy, people always ask whether it’s half full or half empty, right?”

“Yes,” I answered, “the proverbial glass.”

“Right. But I don’t care either way. That’s not the point . . .

“Well, what is?”

“One thing.”

“Yes?” I asked, feigning interest as I stood, ready to walk away.

“Take care only,” she said, eyes suddenly wide and deep, voice resonant and rich, “that there’s soup in the bowl.”


I squinted doubtfully, which she understood while reaching eagerly for my hand—and with a half-smile and shrugged shoulders pining for reconciliation, she delivered, “Alright, boy, you called my bluff. I care when I’m in pain. I’m a human animal after all.”

“Indeed, you are,” I said, turning my back, pulling away. “And one who—after all your years—knows nothing about real love.”

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Ed: Sara Crolick


About Matthew David Bade

Matthew David Bade loves the daytime and nighttime, yoga, running, animals, bridges and being outside with dear friends and family. He is an artist, writer and drummer that played for yoga classes in Bend, Oregon—where he laid his head the past five years. Connect with him via email: [email protected]


30 Responses to “Sympathy for a Lonely Devil. ~ Matthew David Bade”

  1. Clair Hamilton Araujo says:

    Again, I am so thankful for Matthew Bade: for his patience and courage to not only peer into the very depths of our humanity, but also to seek the highest resonant qualities in our potential. Seek on! Your pursuits show us our own reflection and go on to create their own living symphonies!

  2. bri says:

    great read, Matthew! <3

  3. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Bri! Much appreciated.

  4. Matthew Bade says:

    Clair, how lovely. Thank you so much (as always) for your perceptive, compassionate and thoughtful perspective. Thank you, too, for your steady support. I am so grateful for you!

  5. Lynn O'Brien says:

    Thanks for this publication. Exquisite insights, thoughtful story-telling… Somehow, your work always returns ME to the present moment.

  6. Becca says:

    I always love how quiet and insightful you are. Thank you for writing and sharing!

  7. Don O'Brien says:

    A cleverly woven tapestry……..colors and patterns……..and what does the tapestry cover up as it is woven?
    Great read Matt–clever and well written, insightful, challenging belief systems……….yes!

  8. Lois Sauer says:

    Very interesting article, Matt!!

  9. Sarah says:

    Matthew… Love this… thank you for your creations, now and always. <3

  10. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Lynn! So glad you enjoyed the read and the effect it had on your experience. Until next time . . .

  11. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Becca, for comments. You, too.

  12. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Don, much appreciated. Hopefully what isn't there speaks as much as what is—and that there is an equal space-to-fabric ratio. The intent is always to reveal, not conceal. All the actual interactions this piece is based upon created many questions. And this story is my attempt to address them. As it has been said, "the profession of an answer is really the cessation of the music." So, I'm content with the poetics of this uncertainty. Cheers, my friend! See you soon. 🙂

  13. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Lois! Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  14. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Sarah! Blessings. You're welcome!

  15. Kristen says:

    As always, Matt finds a way with his words to remind us of the truth. Still marinating on a very good read!

  16. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Kristen! Much appreciated.

  17. I believe this dialogue will enter the dream-time with me. It reads like a Zen poem. Aho, and Aha., dear Mr. Bade.

  18. Lisa P. says:

    Matthew David Bade uses this powerful tale to suggest important advice. Challenging, thought provoking and multi-dimensional. An insightful view.

  19. Judy says:

    Thank you Matt for this thoughtful, well-written story..i felt you on the log having the conversation. Thank you for enriching my own insights this summer. Your presence and quiet grace has meant a great deal. Sending you love, gratitude and many blessings.

  20. Matthew Bade says:

    Ah, I hope your dream-time was indeed infused. Thank you kindly for your validating comment. Aho, to you!

  21. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, too, for your truth!

  22. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Lisa, for your astute and all-encompassing interpretation. Glad you enjoyed—and got it.

  23. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Judy, for feeling the story. Good to know it read viscerally, too. It's my pleasure to share with you this summer. Let's keep it up. Sending love back. 🙂

  24. Great read. Thanks so much

  25. Krista says:

    Thought provoking and interesting read 🙂

  26. Mary Helen says:

    Perfect timing with the blue moon. What a jewel! Thank you so much for this!

  27. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks for taking the time, Brennan! I appreciate it very much.

  28. Matthew Bade says:

    Thanks, Krista for the comment and taking time to read the article. Blessings!

  29. Matthew Bade says:

    Ah, thank you , Mary Helen. You always find the tie. You are a Jewel!

  30. Deb says:

    Thank you for your insightful and artistic contribution. It was great reading it during the thunderstorm here. It was like being present in the presence of creative energy!