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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Outrage Fatigue

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I’m done.  I’ve got nothing left.  Are we really shocked anymore?  I think it’s just an act.  We just want to be outraged, all up in arms because some guy who is notorious for being an asshole is being an asshole again.

There’s a great song in the Broadway musical AVENUE Q called ‘Everyone’s a little bit racist’.

Regardless of my religious beliefs, I think the phrase “Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone…” is always relevant.  We all live in glass houses.

What this incident should provide is a conversation starter.  It’s a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Racism is still a thing.  And we’re all a little bit guilty.

We’re also a little bit guilty of sexism and homophobia and ageism and all the other ‘isms’ that are out there.  It’s time to shine some light on those dark little recesses in our minds because it’s all there, hiding in wait.  One bad experience with someone of another race or gender can often color our experience of all people of that persuasion.  Hell, sometimes just seeing something on TV makes us scared of each other.

What can we actually do that’s constructive to more forward?  Punishing the racist asshole makes us feel good in the moment but it does nothing substantial.

Peoples is peoples.  (to quote Uncle Pete from ‘Muppets Take Manhattan’)  Racists are people too.  Sad, angry, misguided people but people nonetheless.

What can we actually do that’s constructive to move forward?  Perhaps we can stop acting like racists (and all the other bigots) are anything more than an outmoded version of the human being.  They are the rotary dial phones of the human race.  Let’s all upgrade to the latest smartphone, eh?  And save the outrage for something that is actually shocking.  Like this hot mess.

Avril Lavigne's Hello Kitty video

Avril Lavigne’s Hello Kitty video

What If…

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Don’t you hate it when you can’t exactly remember something and online searches are fruitless?  OK, let’s see if I can sum this up and make sense.

About a decade or so ago, I saw Ben Affleck on a talk show (some fun thing on cable, perhaps HBO).  I don’t remember the host so I can’t find the appearance.  Ben said that he had recently read something by the Dalai Lama encouraging people to try to go a whole day without judging anything or anyone.  And then Ben laughed and said his first thought was ‘that’s a dumb idea’ and he instantly failed the exercise.

check list

It was such a great idea to me, though.  I’ve spent much of the time since then catching myself in judgment and often wondering where it comes from.  I know that life has no inherent meaning, only that which we give it.  I know that right and wrong are only human constructs.  The Universe is pretty neutral on the concept.  So how did we get here?

By here, I mean the place where people sit in judgment about so much in life.  Sometimes the judgments are quite harsh, and even lead to getting into fights over disagreements about how something should be judged (religion, politics, fandom, ad nauseum).

What if we stopped for just a day?  Hell, just one hour.  What would that provide?

If you know anything about judgment, you know that it’s mostly programmed.  You’ve never had an original thought in your life.  It’s all coming from the past and it’s informed by all the hard-wiring in your head.  If you have judgments about other races or genders or even the flavor of foods, do you really think that originated with you in that moment?  Have you ever taken any time to ponder why you judge something positively or negatively ever?

Your judgments come from your parents, your peers, your environment, your education, your TV consumption, your religious affiliation, your past experiences, et al.  Can you really be with another person or in a new situation without making any assessments, assumptions or bringing any expectations to it?  Highly doubtful.  It’s just how were programmed.

But there is freedom in recognizing and subverting our programming.  And I’m encouraging you to give it a try.  What if you saw something you never noticed before by coming in completely empty to each and every encounter?  Can you dig it?

Neo bullets

Happy Earth Day!

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KIDS_EarthDay-banner

Perhaps it’s high time we start thinking this way.  Most of us know about the myriad issues facing our planet today: pollution, overpopulation, over-consumption of resources to name a few.  But it can be so overwhelming that we just figure it’s a problem that will get solved at a later date.

I have no solutions to offer, but as an observer of humanity it is my opinion that the solution will come when we cease to be the dominant life force on this planet.  That’s not a doom and gloom prophecy, it’s just an opinion.  We have not learned how to be good caretakers and stewards of our living space.  Our living space is far more powerful than we are.  When it’s had enough of us, we’ll know and there won’t be a damn thing we can do about it.

I imagine humanity will survive in small amounts.  We have made it through many cataclysms in the past.  But perhaps this time we’ll be able to begin again with a new philosophy in mind.  We’re all in this together so treat the rest of life as we would like to be treated.  Learn how nature works and work with it.  I believe there will always be enough here for all if we just learn how to take only what we need and clean up after ourselves.

Sometimes I wish I could see things on a galactic scale.  I’d really like to see how this all plays out.  I’m curious like that.

Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Push for alternate energy sources.  And enjoy the time you have left.  Life is always worth it.

Timing Is Everything

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In a week I will be getting married for the first time in my life. I’m in my early 40s.

My fiancé has said that he wishes he had met me sooner so we could have spent more of our lives together. As sweet a sentiment as that is, the truth of the matter is if we had met sooner and somewhere besides Southern California, we probably wouldn’t be together today.

I know who I was in my twenties and thirties and the settling down type I was not. I had a wanderlust and a thirst for freedom that my husband-to-be would never have been able to understand or accommodate. I needed to sow my wild oats in order to be with him today.

We all think that hindsight is 20-20 and if we knew then what we know now, it might make all the difference in how we lived our lives. But I say timing is everything. The Rolling Stones got it right with this one.

What we want and what we need are rarely the same thing. We want to be loved but we need to love. We want freedom but we need responsibility. We want adventure but we need stability.

None of these things are contradictory. They are actually complimentary. I want to be wanted but I need to be needed. And this is something that I didn’t know before my late 30s.

Sometimes we luck out and get what we want and need before we’ve had the opportunity to get clear about it. Then we just come to recognize our good fortune. Other times, we have to try on a few options before we find one that works.   And every once in a while, something old is new again.

I didn’t get what I wanted but I got what I needed. That makes me want it all the more now. And its timing couldn’t have been better if I had planned it myself. Life is funny that way.

Ren Faire kiss