This morning, I woke up and stretched as I usually do, but something felt different.
No, it was still the same grey sky that I’ve come to know and love in a city I know and love. My room was the same, somewhat messy and in need of a dusting. My kitchen looked the same, with the glass from my previous evening’s drink still sitting in the sink. The light in the bedroom still didn’t work every single time (thank goodness the landlord is fixing that!).
I woke with a profound sense of sadness. A sense of loss for 50 of my brothers and sisters in the community, who simply assembled to share their joy. Maybe to meet the person that was destined to be the one for them. To make new friends, to celebrate the ones they currently had, to simply be. To dance without fear of judgment of who they were dancing with, or who they were kissing.
They were in their sanctuary.
For so many in the LGBT community who feel rejected by the standard church’s teachings, the gay bar is/was our home. Our place of communal worship, albeit of a liquid god. I say that in jest. But seriously, it was a place for community, a place where one could go without feeling as though they were different. Because everyone there was just as different and unique as them — making us all for those two-to-three hours somewhat “normal.”
I woke up feeling unrest. I have been lucky in my life as a gay man. I came out, and felt immediate love and support from my family. From loving and being accepting of my boyfriends to recognizing that I am me, my family has been a stalwart supporter of mine, through words and actions. I never felt the need to go to the gay bars to simply hang out to be around my kind. I’ve always identified as a man who happens to be gay.
Today, I am a gay man, and the attacks in Orlando are having a profound attack on me. Maybe I’ve lived in a completely isolated world where the hate and fear of myself for simply being who I am has tarnished my worldview.
You hear about things like this happening in rural Wyoming, where a young man is lured out to a roadside and beaten to death. You hear about this happening in the deep south, where the world view is not as evolved as one would like. Heck, their city view is not as evolved as one would like. You hear about this in North Carolina, where people are afraid to pee next to someone who may have been born different, but went on their own journey to figure out and accept who they are.
You don’t hear about this in cities like Orlando. LA. Seattle.
These are large metropolitan cities known for their acceptance of our community. Hell, our mayor, a gay man himself, painted several crosswalks in what could be called the gayberhood as a rainbow and the city rejoiced. Two major airlines competed for the right to sponsor our never-ending pride parade (seriously, that thing is way too long but you do you, boo).
A Facebook friend summed it up best with, “They just wanted to dance.”
And that makes me filled with uncontrollable anger and sadness. They simply wanted to dance.
Can you imagine any of the people who had made a choice to get ready, take a shower, pick out their cutest outfit, do their hair, looking forward to an evening of fun and frivolity, dancing to the latest music and simply getting the chance to express themselves with abandoned pretenses on the dance floor, sometimes finding the two and four, but having a good time and being around their contemporaries and peers — to suddenly have a madman come in and target this group of people with a semi-automatic rifle? To go into the bathroom where people were hiding and shoot them down in cold-blooded murder? To have people frantically sending text messages to their loved ones, letting them know he was there with them, waiting, to call the police now. Saying their goodbyes, saying how much they loved their moms.
Can you imagine being on the other end of such a message, reading in real time the horror? That your child had a very small possibility of making it out alive, and then, silence. Nothing from their phone, no idea of whether they had made it, were injured, were in the hospital, but knowing in the back of your mind, that the last thing you had heard from them was them begging and pleading for help.
I want to blame things. I want to blame people. I want to blame the world for this. I want someone to feel the brunt of my rage because I.AM.ANGRY.
I’m so angry that I don’t know that I can keep my emotions in check. I’m sitting here at my desk, fighting back tears as I continually try to make sense of it, to figure out any silver lining in this massacre. Or any massacre for that matter.
Newtown, Denver, Charleston.
I’m tired of it. I’m tired and angry, and I want to do something.
What can I do? Devote my life to ending gun violence? That’s something I seriously am pondering. Something where I can make a difference.
I’m not for taking people’s rights to have guns. I understand it’s a constitutional right, one so ridiculously divisive. I’m not one to take away anyone’s rights. But I want the rights to extend just beyond the .300 gorilla in the room. It’s not ONLY about guns and whether or not you should own them.
Someone said, “Let’s arm ’em all.” What a fucking miserable and horrible idea. No. Let’s not arm them all. Let’s not arm any of them, frankly. Guns have one purpose: to kill. Not to be centerpieces on your table, not to be decorations on your wall. Their entire purpose is to main, destroy, or kill.
I don’t want to live in a world where I have to worry about whether or not if I cut someone off in line, whether on accident or not, that I’m going to be shot because they had a bad day and are carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle.
I don’t want to live in a world where I wake up and hear that innocent school children are murdered, their lives cut short because someone was mentally unstable and unable to get the help they need.
I don’t want to live in a world where if you’re gay and you go out dancing, you have to fear that someone is going to come in and murder you in cold-blood. Shooting fish in a barrel.
I don’t want to live in a world where if you go to church to worship, you have to be careful when closing your eyes that someone may open fire on you for worshiping your god, for trying to find peace and salvation in what is a very frightening world.
And yet, here we are.
I’m frustrated that people still cling to beliefs which promote hate and fear.
I’m saddened that innocents have to die because of madmen and women.
I’m angry because I deserve the same rights as anyone else, and I shouldn’t have to worry about my safety if I’m out dancing or drinking with friends.
I’m horrified that people believe and preach that their way is right, and yet they murder innocents. How warped is their thinking that this has ever become an option?
I’m disgusted with our Congress who has refused to react. Who turned their noses up when innocent children were murdered and accepted that as the new normal for our country.
I’m tired of having to watch our President — a man who has faced insurmountable racism and hostility while holding the highest office in the land — come out and give yet another press conference, to find a new way to say to the people who are supposed to help support us that this has to stop.
I’m horrified that a presidential candidate has the gall to take congratulations over the shooting in Orlando.
I’m mortified that people support said presidential candidate.
Mostly, my heart is heavy for the families of those people who were affected so tremendously by the actions of a madman. Lives that are irrevocably changed forever. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children who have to bury people now and say goodbyes that shouldn’t have had to have been said. Husbands and wives who only less than a year ago were celebrating their joy and dedicating their lives to another who now have to say goodbye.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us until they’re finished songs and start to play when senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day. This show is proof that history remembers. We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger. We rise and fall, and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer and love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside. As sacred as a symphony Eliza tells her story. Now fill the world with music, love and pride. – Lin-Manuel Miranda
In a naive sort of world view, I’d like to believe that this will finally spur some action on gun control. We will finally have a conversation around what we are doing to ourselves as a country and to our fellow people. That we cannot — will not — accept hate any more. Demagoguery should be the exception, never the norm.
And that we should be free to be who we are, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else that makes us unique and individual.
Love is love is love.
To all my brothers and sisters out there, I stand for you because you cannot.
“Hey there, I’ll be in your area. I picked up a trip to the Northwest, let’s go get something to eat.”
“Okay! Let me know about what time you’ll be in the area, and I’ll make sure I’m out of work, and ready!”
“Okay, sounds good!”
Sounds innocent enough, right? Don’t worry, this doesn’t lead into a gruesome tale of murder and dismembered bodies. I mean, would I be telling you that sort of information if my head had been chopped off? No. I suppose I could write, but I would probably only get about three sentences out before my body finally quit working due to the massive loss of blood.
No, this is a story that sums up a lot about my past, my present, and my future.
I waited in the parking lot for him to show up. He arrived, and went immediately to the pump to fill up the truck. “Wait for me over there, and I’ll find a place to park.”
After about 10 minutes of waiting, he walked over. “There’s nothing here. I found another place down the road. Follow me there.” I agreed, and we started down the road, only to be driving for 30 minutes. This way, that way, under ways, over ways. And we ended up back in the same parking lot.
“Well, I don’t know what to do,” he said. “Did you see those trucks parked over there by the casino? I can park my truck there.”
We started over towards the Casino, and he parked the big rig. He disappeared in the back, and emerged five minutes later, completely changed. He got into the car, and I said, ‘Where would you like to go?”
“How about we go in there?” He was motioning to the casino. “Okay,” I said. “They have a few restaurants inside. That should be fine.”
We find parking, making small chat about the day, mostly his, and start to walk in the casino. As soon as we get inside the doors, he hands me $20 and says, “Go play. I’ll come find you.” And then he’s gone.
Not gone. But gone. In a different part of the casino, playing whatever games he could find. I stood there for a moment, looking like a lost puppy, with $20 in my hands. “Okay,” I thought to myself. “Let’s see if I can get lucky.”
I sat down at a slot machine, and played the $20. It was gone in a matter of minutes, as is the case. I wandered back over to him. “How are you doing?”
“Doing okay. I just won $100 on $20.” “Congratulations,” I said. He cashed his ticket out of the machine, and went up to the teller, handed it in, and got his cash. After receiving the cash, he turned to me and handed me another $10. “I don’t want you to be bored while I play. I’ll be right here.” He sat down, and played.
I sat near him, and played that $10. It went incredibly fast, and I turned and saw him. He was staring intently into the one-armed bandit’s screen, clearly engrossed in the game. I needed to use the restroom. So, I went.
I was gone for maybe a minute, at the most. When I came back, he was gone. I looked around to see if maybe he had moved to a nearby machine. No dice.
I wandered around the area, looking, trying to place a call on my cell, but reception was spotty. I walked up and down the casino, looking for his distinctive white shirt, but nothing was popping out. I couldn’t find him.
Of course, this casino was pretty large. About the size of two football fields. Finally, I decided I would page him. I had sent three text messages, and was able to get out two phone calls, but I was hearing nothing back, and the evening was waning, and my stomach was getting more and more hungry.
I went to approach the concierge desk, and then I saw him, playing some sort of Asian-themed game. “There you are!” “Yeah, this game isn’t doing so well,” he said. Silence. “Are you getting hungry?” I asked. “Yeah. Let’s get something to eat.” He cashed out.
We went to the small deli, and he ordered the meals for us. As I was telling the server what I wanted my sides to be, another server placed a new batch of food into the serving area rather forcefully, sending hot water up and over the spit guard and onto the front of my body, hitting my hand. More shocked than anything, I just stood there. This was turning out to be a perfect representation of what this evening had become, just a complete and utter mess.
She apologized, and handed me some burn gel, but fortunately it was more the shock of the water than the actual temperature. I was okay, as my clothes took the brunt of the liquid. I received my food, and went and sat down.
We then went and proceeded to have a conversation, me asking about his wife, about the boys, about babies that were on the way. He answered, as most people would. People like to talk about themselves.
I wasn’t trying to mitigate the silence, simply just keep the conversation flowing. After all, we hadn’t seen each other in five years. This was the first time he had been out to my neck of the woods since 1998. There was a lot of catching up to do. I was busy rehearsing two shows, had a job interview lined up, was getting ready to celebrate a birthday, and had a son of whom I was very proud, due to his scholastic achievements this year. Lots to talk about, if he had asked. But why volunteer the information when clearly he wasn’t interested?
After about 20 minutes of this uncomfortableness, he said, “Well, I think I’m going to go back and play some more. I’ll walk you out.” We walked out to my car, making more small talk. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” And then he said, “I love you,” and opened his cell phone, and walked off.
I stood there, somewhat dumbfounded, wondering how in the world how I could be completely different from this man, a man whose name I share, a man whose DNA courses through my veins. He may be my father, but he was a stranger to me. Completely different, separated by 36 years and 2,500 miles.
As I started my drive home, I thought long and hard about what had transpired, and made a decision. I picked up the phone and called my stepfather.
“I just want you to know how much I appreciate you. And I want you to know how much it means to me.”
“Where did that come from? It’s sweet, but completely out of the blue.”
“Sometimes you have to let the people who’ve made a difference in your life know. And so I’m taking this time.”
“Wow. Thank you. Is everything okay?”
“I’m fine. I can tell you the story, if you’d like, or we can leave it at that.”
“Tell me the story. Come on.”
And so I did, albeit a truncated version of what you saw above. I got somewhat emotional, at 36 years, driving down the highway with my headset in, speaking to the man who had married into our family, raised me and my siblings as his own, and provided the best he knew how. Rocky relationship at first, but something that has grown to be admired and loved over the years.
I closed by simply saying, “I love you.”
And that was the Sunday evening spent with two men, my father, the stranger, and my dad, the friend.
What you are witnessing is real. Do not judge.
I needed a dose of nostalgia for some reason this weekend, and so I started Friday night, and continued until Sunday morning at 2:32 PM. And managed to watch the entire first season of…
wait for it…
THE COSBY SHOW.
I needed me a little Theo, a little Vanessa, a dash of Denise, some Sondra, lovable Rudy, and of course Clair and Cliff. All the heavenly Huxtables on my television screen, streaming from Hulu like manna from heaven.
It was exactly what I needed.
I don’t know why I needed to watch the show, however, as I sat there watching each and every episode the thing that struck me was how much they all loved each other. You could just tell, from beginning to end of each episode, that it was all done with love. And I get that they are television characters…not real at all.
But I remember growing up, and when this show was on the air for the first time, and just really, really, REALLY wishing that my family was as centered, as loving, as fun as this family. I won’t go into what a horrible childhood I had, because it wasn’t horrible at all. It was functionally dysfunctional. And I’m all the better for it. We all seem to get along much better as adults than independently-minded kids. Go figure.
Anyway, it was a nice blast from the past to visit the Huxtable clan, and see them all in their silliness. And yes, I will probably continue and watch the rest of the seasons at some point. Because it makes me happy.
God bless you, Huxtable clan and Hulu Streaming.
I woke up this morning, 3,000 miles away, and saw the news. Unsuspecting lives changed forever. I read the story and felt my heart break into a thousand little pieces, and realized I was crying.
My heart goes out to those affected by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Two mass shootings in one week…when does it end?
No one wants to take away your guns. If you feel you need a gun to protect you, you’re guaranteed that right.
But isn’t it time we stop allowing any person with enough cash regardless of their mental stability the “right” to buy a firearm and unleash havoc on unsuspecting victims? Haven’t we had enough senseless violence?
The idea that Joe Schmoe needs an Ak-47 or any assault rifle to “hunt” is simply wrong. An assault rifle is not a fair fight for any creature.
What will the NRA say about this? Will they spin this into “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people?” Okay, fine. If that’s what you want to believe to make yourself sleep better at night, go ahead. But what about those families whose lives have been unforgivably changed, whose worlds have been completely changed, and whose nightmares suddenly became very, very real?
We are supposed to love each other. Not murder each other.
I am numb.
Enough is enough.
I was doing some work on the computer that involved going through my photos and cleaning them up, organizing, picking out the perfect photo for the project at hand.
It’s no surprise, to those who have been reading this blog, that I recently ended a five-year relationship. As I combed through each of those photos, a question dawned me.
Somewhat tongue-in-cheekily, the way people used to handle breakups would be to burn pictures with their exes, or cut their faces out, or to even pin them on a voodoo doll and perhaps poke pins into their private parts (A-plus for alliteration!). Now, with the digital age, it’s simply as easy as hitting the DELETE button, and poof, voila, presto-chango, the picture is gone. The memory is erased. It seems like an easy enough solution.
Still, the question begs to be asked…what do you do with those photos? They’re my memories too. And if I suddenly remove the photos from vacations, from holidays, from family gatherings that the two of us were in, that’s also part of my past I’m erasing. Do I simply deny that He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (no…not Voldemort) was part of my life? Do I archive them away somewhere, safe on a CD, so that if i should choose to look at them again, then I’m able? Print them out, put them in an album, and never look at them again, except when I’m old and gray, or at my funeral service, when they’re hauling my rotting corpse up to the front of the church, and showing off all my pictures above me, as my family weeks inconsolably into their Dollar Store handkerchiefs? (Seriously…quality over quantity, guys)
It’s a tough call. Though, not really. I mean, I don’t deny that the relationship happened. The end of it was sudden yes. And I hate that, but I don’t deny the fact that we were together for five times.
Maybe the pictures will serve as a reminder of happier days. Though, I’ll admit, whenever I came across his face, i got a little overwhelmed. But let’s be honest — McDonald’s commercials make me cry. But I digress.
The point is, this is a process, a continual evolving existence I’m in, where every day, every time I see something that reminds me of him makes me long for those moments of togetherness.
I don’t want to deny it. To deny it would be to deny who I am as a person, and the experiences that have shaped me, helped mold me. If anything, I want to embrace them.
Maybe I’m not quite ready to embrace them fully, but in time. When seeing his face, seeing his smile, seeing the moments in time captured forever in pixels won’t bring sadness to my heart, but wistfulness.
Every day gets easier. And every day, I let go a little bit more. And finally, when I’ve let it all go — the resentment, the anger, the hurt, the betrayal, the sadness — I’ll be glad I kept those pictures.
This post has turned into a sad tale, so I think I’ll end it by linking to some random things on YouTube. For your viewing pleasure:
I hesitated writing this blog, dear readers, because I wasn’t quite sure how to begin it. This happened yesterday, so one could conceivably assume that I simply didn’t have enough time to sit down at my computer and write it…though, you would be mistaken.
To be honest, the experience as a whole has left me somewhat shocked, shaken, and surprised.
I apologize in advance at the graphic language that may or may not appear in this blog posting. I’m not sure what will come out as I tell you my experience.
I was meeting a friend for lunch yesterday at noon, downtown Seattle. I arrived early, as is my custom, found parking, and decided to take advantage of the day by going and sitting on this little alcove area that overlooked the water and the new Ferris wheel on 1st and Union. I had some lines to highlight in a script, and found a spot next to a lovely fountain where I sat, with an unobstructed view of the Sound, the water rushing behind my back in the fountain, the sun bouncing off the water in front of me.
I was lost in my own world, simply enjoying my surroundings. Water is a place of rejuvenation for me, a place where I go to remind myself that there are things, forces bigger than myself, and in a completely woo-woo sense, to wash away whatever is troubling me, and let me continue on with my day-to-day activities, struggles or triumphs.
This day couldn’t have been more perfect. It was the last bastion of summer, before we head into the Seattle drizzle, and I was loving every moment of it, excited at the prospect that I was to be working as a guest artist in a play, and looking forward to meeting my new friends for sushi and wine.
Suddenly, I heard a voice from above, “What’s that?” I looked up, and there is this woman, about 30-ish, wearing a plaid shirt, yellow hoodie, her hair in pigtails, the rest hidden by a hat, her eyes behind sunglasses.
“It’s a script–” and that was all I was able to get out.
“You fucking faggot. You motherfucking faggot, with your pink highlighter, and your fucking attitude.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“You fucking faggot, you deserve to die.”
“Ma’am, I don’t understand.”
“Why are you calling me ma’am?”
“Because I don’t know you.”
“You don’t understand huh?”
“I’m positive I don’t understand.”
“I bet you are. I bet you’re positive, and you take your fucking medication so you can go and spread your disease around to all your faggot friends. You deserve to rot in hell.”
“Ma’am, I’m not going to engage with you.”
“You’re not going to engage with me, huh? Why not?”
“Because you’re not saying anything nice and this isn’t constructive.”
“Fuck you, you dirty fucking faggot. You’re dripping with disease, and you’re a scourge on the earth, and you should be killed.”
I went silent. I wasn’t going to engage anymore. But I was visibly shaken. I didn’t know if she would lash out at me, hit me with her purse, what was in her purse, or what I should even do. I was trying to remain calm and cool throughout this entire process. She continued to berate me. Soon it became noise. And then she stopped. She then wandered away and then came back and said:
“No it’s not. It’s ugly. You’re fucking ugly. Your face is ugly. You deserve to fucking rot in hell. You’re disgusting.”
I remained as calm as I could under the circumstances, and let her continue her rant. Eventually she got tired of berating me, and wandered over to a nice elderly couple, also taking in the view. “You fucking kykes,” she screamed. “You should’ve died in Germany.”
The couple quickly moved away. Then a woman with her two young children entered the circle. They were carrying flowers. Sensing another victim, this woman went over to them, and said, “Nice flowers.” “Thank you. I just got them at the mark–” “You stupid chink. No one cares where you got your fucking flowers. You’re probably going to grind ’em up with a cat and eat them, anyway. What are you teaching your children? You should get out of this country.”
Her vitriol was acidic, her tongue, using the F-word much more than I’ve written in this blog posting. I stood up, as this woman’s attention was currently diverted, and went to find a police officer.
As I stated in the beginning, I was shocked. Appalled. Seattle is a pretty liberal place. And I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Yes, I’m a gay man. But was I actively promoting my gay lifestyle? No. I was someone who sat down to enjoy the view of the water, while waiting for a friend. And this woman — no, this monster — was completely and utterly baseless, offensive to anyone and everyone she could encounter. Harassing people on the street. Not for money, not for work, not even trying to promote a religious view. Whatever demons were in her head were causing her to spew such violent, complete and utter filth towards anyone who came near her.
In that split second while she was berating me, I thought of a few things. 1) How do I react? 2) What if she hits me? Then what? 3) What if I wasn’t who I am — a proud gay man, but a kid with no sense of himself, questioning his sexuality, questioning where his life was going? And this woman then went on the attack, bullying him with what she perceived to be a weakness, and causing this hypothetical kid to question even more to the point that he made a very rash decision, thinking things were never going to get better, and ended up killing himself?
I hope — and pray — that whatever demons this woman is facing, that she finds some inner peace and comes to terms with her hatred, her pure evilness, and has some sort of reconciliation at some point down the road. Her hate is not needed in this world. I am proud of who I am, and proud of who I love, and the choices I make.
I felt completely tested in this moment, tested in the sense that I had a decision to make. I could have screamed and yelled at her, reacted just as angrily, said something negative. What I really wanted to do was push her off the overlook into the traffic below and let her meet her demise there. But I remained cool. I remained calm, and tried to keep the situation from escalating any further than it already had. It was tough, but I managed to do so.
After I walked away, I realized I had a very important choice to make. Do I allow this woman to completely ruin the rest of my day? Or do I simply shake it off?
I chose the latter. This woman, her hate, her views are completely misguided. She knows nothing about me as a person, and her control over how I feel about myself is nonexistent. In fact, once this blog posting is complete, I will consider the matter resolved, as I have processed the entire situation, and move forward, on, and up.
I wish her the best. Whatever she is facing, it must be pretty horrible to have to take it out on people unsuspecting, people going about their lives, people simply being in this world.
And yet, I’m grateful for the experience. Not because I like being yelled at. No. Because I was able to show my mettle under pressure, and allow myself to be gracious, and practice patience. And above all else, forgiveness for her shortcomings.
I posted on Facebook, and was overwhelmed with the love I received back from family and friends, people who were behind me 100 percent. Though I didn’t post to make people feel sorry for me. That wasn’t the intention at all. The intent was to let people know that there are other people out there who are vicious, and who are cruel and will make judgments based on absolutely no fact whatsoever, except for what they choose to see. Those are the people I pity the most. Because like it or not, they are everywhere.
My friends and family: Thank you. Thank you for your words, thank you for your kindness and thank you for having my back. You are amazing, and I feel completely and totally blessed to know you.
And to this woman who approached me on the street. I forgive you.
And with that, I consider the matter closed.
I am a nice person.
After failed relationships, and seeing what I’ve been processing over the last few months…no, really the last year…it has become acutely apparent that I am a good, nice person. I will take care of someone. And I will love unconditionally.
Yet, why do I go for the people who don’t seem to value me?
That’s a question for a therapist, I’m sure. Who knows.
But if positive thinking is supposed to work (isn’t that what The Secret is based entirely around) then this is what I am putting out in the universe:
I want someone who wants me for me.
I want someone who loves me for me.
I want someone who makes me laugh.
I want someone who knows that even after we have a misunderstanding, that it doesn’t mean I hate them.
I want someone who appreciates my sense of humor.
I want someone who is happy to see me in the morning when we wake up, and is grateful to kiss me goodnight before we go to sleep.
I want someone who doesn’t mind if I ask a question or two, to understand a situation before making any sort of judgment call on it.
I want someone who can get along in a social setting.
I want someone who wants to spend time with me as much as I want to spend time with them.
I want someone who has dreams, and is working to achieve them, but understands that sometimes life gets in the way.
I want someone who is not afraid to be daring.
I want someone who will communicate.
I want someone who can see that I would do anything on this earth for them because I love them.
This is the beginning of a very detailed list. I don’t know. Maybe this is the stuff of fairy tales and romantic movies. Or maybe this could be my life.
But I have a lot to offer someone…and someday, someone will see that. And if not, well, I suppose I can be a crazy cat lady. Though that requires gender reassignment surgery. And a heck of a lot more cats.
I am a nice guy. And it’s true. We do finish last. It’s always this last leg of the race that is the hardest. And yet, I keep slogging on.
Recently, a very dear friend of mine moved. We had gotten together for coffee, and she presented me with two things. One, a music book in which we had selected different songs, and rehearsed them. The second was a small card called “The ABC’s of Life.”
It’s been sitting on the shelf in my living room, under a pile of books, for a while now. After my recent move, I rediscovered it, and decided that I would take a look at it for this blog posting, and offer a couple thoughts on it, if I may. So, if you’ll indulge me, we can go through, from A to Z (sorry, Amazon.com!) the ABC’s of life.
This one is particularly relevant to me right now, having gone through a breakup that I don’t quite understand completely, but knowing that the reality of it all is to live in our truth, whatever that truth may be. And if you are unhappy, sad, diffident, whatever…that doesn’t mean that the person next to you is. And, quite simply, that’s okay. You can be sad. I can be happy. That difference is so simplistic, yet it we often forget that as a society, our uniqueness is what makes us human. Black, white, gay, straight – it doesn’t matter. As long as we accept those differences, we can work towards a better whole.
Whoo, boy. I wish more people would follow this one. Too many times people will have an unkind word, a cutting remark, a mean thought to those around them. And yet, it takes so much energy. I suppose, if you practice it long enough, it becomes second nature. But what kind of energy are you putting out in the world? These are the same people who would be devastated if they found out that someone had hurt them in the same manner. They might blow it off with their own witty comeback, but how long can that facade hold up? The world would be a lot better if we were just kind to each other. Without belittling, without yelling, without screaming. Remembering our manners. Heck, even opening doors for people. Being grateful for what we have, and excited for others’ success. All of this leads to a much more balanced, much healthier understanding of the world, and ourselves.
Count Your Blessings
I drove home recently from a visit with my family, and I was mad. Pissed off. Angry at the world. How could he do this to me? How could my five-year relationship end with so much confusion on both of our part, and feeling completely hopeless and without an idea of what to do next. On the other side of the highway, I saw a U-Haul truck that had been filled to the brim, the belongings of someone on their way to somewhere else to begin their new life. And that U-Haul truck had been completely gutted out by fire. It put everything into perspective for me, and I suddenly realized that I still had a roof over my head, I still had my furniture (even if it is not the most expensive stuff in the world), I still had family, I still had friends, and that one thing…really, insignificant in the entirety of my life, was not going to affect all of those other blessings. It really put it into perspective for me, and I quickly said a thank you to the universe.
So important. Not just your nightly dreams…you really aren’t in charge of those. But the dreams you have every day, when you wake up. Writing a song, a lyric, going flying, taking a cruise, climbing Mount Everest. Whatever those dreams are, they’re important. They fuel you. They are food for your soul. And without them, life becomes a repeat of the same thing every day. Even just having the dreams propels you towards your goal because it’s out there. And who knows who you’ll meet on the street or in the world who might help you with your dreams. Right now, my dream is to produce a version of this musical I have written, as well as record a six song demo of some of the songs to help enter it into festivals to give it new life. I talk about it whenever I can, to whomever will listen. Sometimes I fear I’ve worn out the welcome, but hey, if you don’t put it out there, you’ll never know. Come on, Universe. I’m patient. 🙂
I really believe this is a generational thing. Very often, we forget to thank people when they do a kindness. Almost to the point that when we do actually say the words, “Thank you,” it becomes almost a shock for the recipient. There have been times when I have said thank you, and the person receiving the thanks has looked almost bewildered, as though they didn’t know what to do with it. But the fact of the matter is, we can’t do it alone. None of us. We may think we can, but we’d be sorely mistaken. And those who are out there who make the effort to give up their most valuable asset — time — to assist someone else should be thanked. This goes for our military, this goes for our friends, our family, even strangers who hold the door. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of people that have breezed right past me as I’ve held the door for them without so much as a thank you, their kids in tow. I suppose a more cynical person would be inclined to simply stop, but I believe in the kindness of humanity, and think that my one small action may influence them in some way that they never even would think about.
I live my life in musical theatre lyrics sometimes. And the one that always comes back to me is this one, from “Jane Eyre.” I’ll reprint most of it here for your enjoyment:
You mustn’t be revengeful
You have to be strong
To offer good for evil
Return right for wrong
We must not hold a grudge
And we must learn to endure
Then as God is your judge
At least your heart will be pure
Is the mightiest sword
Forgiveness of those you hate
Will be your highest reward
When they bruise you with words
When they make you feel small
When it’s hardest to bear
You must do nothing at all
Is the simplest vow
Of all their crimes
Is your deliverance now
Bless those souls
Who would curse your name
When the last bell tolls
You’ll be free of blame
You can continue to grieve
But know the Gospel is true
You must forgive those who lie
And bless them that curse you
Is the mightiest sword
Forgiveness of those you hate
Will be your highest reward
The time will come when we will leave this world,
and then the injustice and the pain and the sin will fall away from us,
and only the spark of the spirit will remain – returning to God who created it
You must never lose faith
You must never lose heart
God will restore your trust
And I know you’re afraid
I’m as scared as you are
But willing to be brave
Brave enough for love
I think this is very powerful. Forgiveness. Don’t let it hold you down. So often, we hold a grudge, we let it keep us from doing what it is that we need to accomplish because we’re mad, we’re angry, and so-and-so wronged me. And yet…here we are, one, two, three, five, ten, 20 years later, still holding that grudge and keeping us from achieving our true potential, to be as free as we can. To take wing and to soar. What has holding that grudge gotten us? Twenty years of dark, deep stuff that makes it even harder to get rid of. But if we can just toss it out, forgive and MOVE ON, then we can truly be ourselves, and be free to open up to whatever life has to offer. I recently sat down and wrote a letter to myself. I forgave myself of my shortcomings, recognized that I was the most perfectly flawed version of myself that existed, and that while I could always grow and change, I could never go back and fix. And I forgave myself. For the wrongs I had done. For the wrongs I would do. For the hurt I may have caused anyone. We’re our own toughest critic, and we have to be gentle with ourselves as well as the rest of the world. And it was freeing. I let go of some of the baggage that had been holding me back since I was a kid…and my relationship with my father suddenly blossomed, my spirit was alive, and I was back in the game, back to enjoying everything life had to offer. The penultimate line of that lyric, “But willing to be brave.” Are you brave enough to forgive?
Harm No One
I do my best every day to be gentle, kind, and courteous. I suppose I could say, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent as well, but I’m a homosexual and the Boy Scouts of America don’t take too kindly to my type. Still, when I WAS a scout, that was the thought process that occurred all the time. To be kind to people. To do the right thing. And with that comes not harming anyone else. We’re all sentient beings and some of us have a better grasp on our feelings than others. However, if I have wronged you, intentionally or unintentionally, I will own my stuff. I am not afraid to say I’m sorry, if I have hurt you in any way. I’m human, after all. I make mistakes. But part of being human is owning them. An animal will harm you, and think nothing of it. But a human has the power to practice forgiveness and be the recipient of it. It’s interesting how these all tie together, don’t you think?
I don’t mean dream the next iPhone…though that’s pretty cool too. I just mean sometimes we need to get out of the black and white of our world, and imagine a bit more. Dare to dream. Just let our minds wander. You never know what this will do for your soul. It sounds like a bunch of hooey, but we have to remember our souls also need nurturing. If we nurture and cultivate that, then we can grow anything our heart can imagine.
What good is it for us to carry our anger around. It’s like plaque…and it just builds and builds and builds. Until we don’t remember what we were angry about in the first place, we’re just angry. We let it fester. We let it grow. But if we can deal with the situation, whatever it is, immediately and like an adult, then we can move past it, or more importantly, through it. Because the quickest way is through. It may never be the easiest, but it is the fastest way. Otherwise we end up spending years in therapy, trying to figure out why we were upset in the first place….and it usually ends up being something so insignificant that after the initial joy of discovering what it was that kept us back, we suddenly go…well…that was stupid. Why the heck did I hold onto that for so many years???? Better to deal with it, and move through it. They say couples shouldn’t go to bed angry. And this is a truth. Because eight hours is a long time, even if you are sleeping, to think on something, to twist it, to contort it into whatever suits your particular justification for your anger. When really, it could have been dealt with right away. Get rid of it. It’s just taking up space for you to be a much happier person.
This one is important. “Can you keep a secret?” “Of course.” Then…. “Oh my god, did you hear about what Susie did?” What does that say about you? Never mind what Susie did, what does it say about you, and how true to your word you are? Someone came to you to get something off their chest, to confide in you, and you go and blab their news. Why? To bring them down? To make them feel better about yourself? To seem superior because you have this little nugget of knowledge that is rather uninformed and only half the story? Bravo. Kudos to you. You’re only as good as your word. And if you break your word….well…you do the math. Unless it’s something completely criminal and absolutely not right — something that is hurting another person…then by all means, PLEASE break that confidence. We don’t want another Penn State.
I would add to this one, love deeply. Love sincerely. Love honestly. If you’re not happy, go. But love. Love with wild abandon. Love with all your heart. You may end up hurt…but you’ll recover. You’ll grow from it. Don’t build relationships on false pretenses. There’s no room for that. Those seeds will grow faster than anything you’ve ever experienced, and take such a hold on the relationship it will suffocate and die. Just live in your truth, and love. It’ll usually doesn’t steer you wrong.
I’ve thought long and hard about this. I could provide a list of things that I am not good at. If I did, this blog posting would be 1909810980918309813098 times longer, and you would have stopped reading after the first few. “Okay, we get it.” Instead, I will focus on something I have mastered, and that is the ability to be reliable. It seems silly to think about, but I’ve noticed that through my pain, through all the difficulties that I’ve experienced in my life, even when I’m at my lowest, people still come to me for guidance, for help. I don’t know that I’ve steered them in the right path, but the best I can do is be reliable, to be strong for them. So they have someone to lean on. It’s what I do best. Now, if I could only remember that for myself. 😉
Don’t quash anyone’s dreams. Foster it. Help it grow. So maybe the idea is a bad one. That’s not for you to decide. You never know, it could turn into something else, something amazing, something spectacular. And I suppose, from an egotistical point of view, you could take pride in the fact that you helped push that person along the way, to achieve their dream, to aspire, to hope. Or you could simply take satisfaction in their dreams. Because without them, we don’t have much.
Open Your Mind.
Take a look at our current political cycle. He’s wrong, she’s wrong, he said, she said. Not a lot of conversation going on…just a lot of noise. ‘Nuff said.
This one is great, because it means get rid of your baggage, matching set and all. Take what you only need to survive in the world, and let the rest go. Let it go. LET IT GO. You’ll feel the world lifted off your shoulders if you can just let it go…and besides, those strap marks aren’t very pretty to look at.
“Did you hear about Susie and Bill?” No. And no one else will. If anyone tells me something completely unfounded, malicious, I let it end with me. I don’t go and tell the person, I don’t pass it on, so it can grow into some big ugly monster. I let it die. Monsters are scary, but we all have the strength to slay them and make the world a bit safer. Not because I’m trying to be noble, but because I’ve been the victim of those rumors…and I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to be fed to the monster.
Don’t just take, take, take, take, take, take take. Give. Remember growing up, the saying it’s better to give than receive. It’s so simple, yet it’s true. It works. Give. Not to the point of harming yourself, but give. You never know who you might be helping.
We don’t know everything. If we did, what’s the point of going on? We should seek out answers, seek out questions to questions, seek out other ways of thinking….so that we can continue to expand our minds and continue to grow. Because some day, someone will come to you for the wisdom you possess…and it can live on, through generations. It’s kind of exciting to think about, that we all are connected somehow through our own shared wisdom.
There is nothing better than touching someone’s heart. Because it becomes a human experience, something they will treasure forever. I’ve been the recipient of people who have touched my heart more than I can imagine. I aspire to do the same. I can’t say that I ever have succeeded, but I aspire nonetheless. I want to give back, and continue to give, so that people are just a little bit better off than they were only moments before. To share that experience with someone…whether through a well-thought-out letter, a phone call, being there in time of crisis, or just letting them know that you care…it can make all the difference in the world.
I’ve struggled with this one over the past month. Trying to understand. And I can’t say that I’ve been completely successful. Nevertheless, I have done my best to understand why certain things happened the way they did, and why they didn’t. And I find that only bits and pieces are clear enough for me to say that I understand them. I suppose with time, I will grow to understand more, as I have a bit more distance and clarity in the situation. But I’m doing my best to not get wrapped up in the minutia of it all, and just understand it — for my own protection and for my own benefit. Selfish, I suppose, but it is really the only way to move on…or move through.
The truth will set you free. Live your truth. All of those things. But truth is the foundation of so many things…of shared experiences, of relationships, of acting moments, of dreams, whatever. Value it, and you’ll suddenly find that fibbing just to fib is not only pointless, but gets in the way of achieving a much more balanced life.
Nobody likes a sore loser. Or a gloating winner. Just let it be what it is. Don’t be comparing yourself to the Joneses when the Joneses may not have everything you do. I do my best to instill this lesson in my son when we play a game, because it serves you so well out in the real world. You may be the smartest kid in the class…but it doesn’t do you any good to tell the world about it, does it?
This one could be considered a reach. But basically, the definition is as follows:
environmental design of residential and park land using variousmethods for minimizing the need for water use.
All right, let’s take a closer look at that definition. I think really, it’s saying that you should make sure you are comfortable in your surroundings. Though I suppose gardening is also something to consider. Cultivating one’s own environment so that they can grow. That’s good. Let’s go with that.
Yearn for Peace.
I don’t think anyone really wants war. I don’t. I find it hard to believe that. I think sometimes people get so bogged down in their own doctrines that they forget that really, at the core basics, all of us want the same thing — to love and be loved in return, to exist harmoniously, and to be free to do what it is we were put on this earth to do. Maybe if we all yearned for a peace a bit more, we wouldn’t have lost so many of our men and women overseas. Call me a hippie, but I can’t help but think about those people in Aurora, Colorado, those children in Darfur, the mass genocide in Syria. The list sadly goes on and on.
Zealously support a worthy cause.
I think this is best summed up this way:
All right. I’m going to get off my soapbox. I’ll come in at under 3,500 words, and that’s perfect. If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
Be kind to yourself.