Dancing on the Edge of the Apocalypse: Don Harkins, 1963-2009

by Sofia Smallstorm

Don Harkins

I only saw him once in my life. He was at a table near mine at an event in the Seattle Town Hall, and I remember him laughing. He had brown hair and glasses. Funny how a snapshot like that is one you save, furnished by your brain each time you connect thereafter - by telephone lines and email. That was all we had in our sparsely populated world of Sherlock Conspiracy Holmes types. Two oh eight, two five five two three oh seven. I dial it from memory, using my thumb. His voice is still on the recording. “You have reached the Idaho Observer, and a contact number for Vaccination Liberation.” He pauses slightly between the clauses. It always struck me as thoughtful.

xtra beats of thoughtfulness were there when I rang. Knowing what it must take to put out a newspaper every month, with only two of you taking care of it all, I was always surprised that Don could chat with me in a tone of leisure, as though he had all the time in the universe to listen and reflect. I would see the number of articles he wrote in the paper (the initials DWH placed at the end), and I would think: Wow! It just streams out of him - all this stuff, every day. How does he do it? How is he so RELAXED?

I once asked him about it. How do you write so much? And he laughed. Another time I called him up and told him I wouldn’t read his paper anymore unless he went deeper into the origins of things. He took it well - thoughtfully, of course. I remember reading his write-up about his prisoner program one autumn evening, drinking in every word. I picked up the phone and called. “I want to be a pen-pal!” I said. “That piece was incredible!” He said he would find the right person, but it might just take a little time.

There are few people in this world who can handle almost anything, who have that quality ... I think the word is “aplomb.” Dictionary definition: A complete and confident composure or self-assurance: POISE syn see CONFIDENCE. I’m not crazy about the way the dictionary defines it, but I was always awestruck by Don’s “composure” - for God’s sake, composure! - every time I told him some awful new thing I had just found out. Sometimes he wrote it up for the paper. I was proud to have been a scout - for such a scout! It felt like brotherhood. I am doing something useful in the world if Don Harkins puts it in the Idaho Observer.

One day I found myself struggling with the overwhelm that suffuses conspiracy factualists when they overdose on information and its implications. It was early in my connection with Don and Ingri. I had to call them for some reason, and Don fielded the call. Tentatively, because I do not like to burden other people with my own fears, I expressed to Don that there was just too much, way too much, for us to fix, to change, to put into different and better formation. He listened. His responses, as we had our short conversation, were wise. I don’t remember exactly what he told me, but I do remember the tone. I thought, This is a WONDERFUL man. This man really gets it. He really gets what he is doing here - which is to be patient and happy with himself. His words were cheerful, and they took from me the burden that I had to deal with the enormity of this all by myself. They explained to me - from their tone alone - that we were all in this together, and that instead of being freaked out and paralyzed, we had to take the best of ourselves and spread it around. “So how do you like dancing on the edge of the apocalypse?” he asked me when he had finished.

Don became the person in my mind who could stand on the precipice of the apocalypse and not lose his balance and fall into it. Who could wield magic as he teetered and still laugh and create and make a difference. Who did not look into the enormous, billowing future with its raging economics and disease and camps and madness and tremble in the face of the beast that we are told awaits us with its fangs and open mouth. Don laughed. The apocalypse was just another invitation to dance.

We create our own perception of the future. It isn’t dependent on what others think or see. It comes from inside us - from the heartbeat of our soul, our personality, the Being we have nourished into this present moment of our present life. “They” may be trying to take this Being away from us - the god within that, like a constant cosmic metronome, keeps us steady and safe and gives us joy - but they cannot take it from every one of us. We still have the capacity to generate our place - the feeling we bring to the collective table.

Where will you sit at this table, amongst all the billions of challenged people in this world? What will you say, how will you speak, what will you believe as the show goes on? Whatever removed Don Harkins from the table of the threedimensional world, he is not gone. Not to me. It is his laughing voice I hear, recorded forever in my memory, when I begin to agitate. We’re dancing on the edge of the apocalpyse! We are sharing space and speed in this cramped vortex, hurtling into pressure and transformation as we never have before. Billions of us, together. There are only a few who will hang onto the ride and be able to show the rest how to sit in the saddle and laugh. It isn’t about funny. It’s about enduring and supplying and providing - your own greatness.

He knew he had this. He shared it with us for a time. Then he went ahead of us through the tip of the vortex into the expanding beginning beyond.

So I find myself saying to people, don’t worry. Don is out there, he’s not gone. We can only do so much in this three-dimensional reality, and he may be even more powerful in that bigness. We need people like Don on the other side.

We are all light-bearers, we who have seen into the darkness and glimpsed its agenda, its game. We can choose how to hold the light that is born from our having seen. We can hold it wavering, in fear, letting it wobble as we try to explain our newfound knowledge to others. Or we can hold it in the true spirit of our own echoing self, in which case we hold it strong and high and with confidence. We can ride into this apocalypse knowing that we are at our best -- equipped with our true, real natures - the people we (once upon a time) were created to be.

We are not going to take this world back by force, said a wise person I once knew. We are going to take it back by seeing. It is with light that we are able to see, and it is that seeing we attempt to communicate to others. Do you see what I am seeing? Observer: One who watches, notices, sees. That was his e-mail identity. The Idaho Observer.

At some point, each of us gets to sign the contract to cross over. The rest are left behind. We can only sense, remember, and feel the significance of another’s effect. He changed me. He taught me. I will pass it on. For we are all in this together.

Don Harkins. Newspaperman extraordinaire. Watching over the apocalypse. The observereye