I hope that everyone meets someone weird enough to really fall in love with them.
That’s what it takes, right?
Someone who is willing to just be with you for the rest of their life starting from now. So, if you’re a young person, someone who is willing to watch you go from all elastic and youthful with stretchy yoga pants and sharp tattoos to bowed under the weight of 90 years with osteoporosis and incontinence. Yeah, that person has to be nuts and I hope you meet them soon.
I think a LOT about love which is strange because most of my tastes run to the more exotic. I prefer weird music, unusual art and strange architecture, so it surprises me that I would fry my brain on something so pedestrian. And after many years of trying to understand it, my only conclusions are it only shows up when you are ready, no one deserves it and the people who love us are weird.
If I tell you any more, I’ll ruin it. So go figure it out on your own.
At a little over 72 hours old, you haven’t really accomplished much. You managed to pee on your mother, a doctor and a nurse and you slept a lot. For now, that is pretty good.
There are a few things you should know. Most of the information you will need will come from other people, especially at first. Right now, you can’t see well, you don’t speak English and you don’t really even know you exist. But in a while, you’ll begin to recognize that certain things you see, smell and hear are comforting to you and they help you with stuff. That would be the humans you call your parents and your sister. Stick with them. They’re pretty cool.
You may notice that each human you meet will come equipped with a small electronic device that will have all of the funny videos and opinions you will ever need. In addition, the humans will also have their own opinions and if you are around them long enough, they will share them all with you. When you are old enough, you will be given one of these devices. My advice to you is this: try to learn to put it down from time to time and look up at the sky. There’s birds up there and moons and clouds and airplanes. And if you look down, you’ll see dirt and dog poop and worms and cool fish and old chewing gum and your own feet. There is a lot to see.
There is information everywhere but there are a few questions that have difficult to find answers and you will encounter these questions as you grow. They include, but are not limited to: “How does one obtain and retain happiness?” and “What is the meaning of life?” I’ll cover the big chunks briefly and for the details, please ask your parents.
Part One: How to Be Happy
For happiness, here’s the formula: Have an impactful public life and an unremarkable private life. How you achieve this is totally up to you. But in my short 48 years of life, it is the lack of these two things or failure in the pursuit of these two things that causes people to be unhappy. Therefore, if you have them, you will be happy. Simple? Yes. If your presence in the world makes a change for the better in the outside world and no one is compelled to interfere with your home-life, you are going to be a pretty happy dude.
Part One, Subsection A: The Stuff Everyone Wants to See
For an impactful public life, you will have a lot of options. Folks will tell you that it is about money (which is important for buying socks and food) and they will also tell you it is about how many other humans want to be around you. These are important factors but they are not the final goal. Help someone with something every day. That is what makes for an impactful public life. You can be poor as dirt and have no friends and still have a positive impact on life. I know a lot of wealthy and powerful folks who have totally wrecked things for a lot of people. Don’t believe me? Look at any War, Genocide or Electronic Music Festival. They take a lot of money and people to do any of those things and nothing good has ever come from them.
Most people miss out on having an impactful public life because they think their impact must have explosions or dollar signs or scripty letters or fancy labels on it. When people are YOUR age or a little older, they come up with these great goals like growing up to be a dog or making it so everyone has enough food to eat. But then we get entranced by “realistic career goals” and we give up. That is why no one grows up to be a dog and people are starving everywhere. Growing up is a distraction from real happiness. Try to avoid it. Be a little kid, or a dog or end world hunger and just get a career as a sideline.
Most people don’t achieve this because they want too much stuff or they argue too much or they try to love the wrong people or eat a lot of drugs or booze or can’t change the world without yelling or hitting. (someone will fill you in soon on the rules about yelling and hitting. They cover that early.) There will always be jobs and ways to make enough money for socks and food. But there is a shortage of good people that help someone every day. It doesn’t pay well but if you follow the next step, the money won’t seem like such a problem.
Part One Subsection B: The Stuff No One Wants to See
The other component to obtaining and retaining happiness is have a private life that is unremarkable. This is going to be really confusing for the first 30 years of your life or more. First, it is because you are a little kid and everyone is going to be “all up in your business.” Other folks are going to tell you what to eat, they’ll grab your feet, they’ll look at and talk to each other about your poop. As you get older though, you’ll learn to poop without telling everyone about it. You will learn to close doors and think for yourself and you will learn your name.
Remember those electronic boxes filled with opinions I was talking about earlier? When other humans have a thought but don’t want to take time to figure out if it is true or not, it is called an opinion. Right now, they are pretty important to a lot of people. Other humans will make their thoughts about you known to you in many different ways. This will sometimes make you feel good and sometimes it will not. That’s why what people think of you can be kind of important. They can be helpful in helping you grow. BUT, that is only temporary.
Eventually, you will know who you are and what you are good at and you’ll have your own thoughts about your poop and folks will stop grabbing your feet for no reason. And if you are OK with how things are going it will feel good. This is called “loving yourself.” It is a big deal.
However, when a lot of people learn to love themselves, they figure they have to tell everyone else about it . And so they share it with everyone around them. (opinions) Lot’s of people get upset when the things they love about themselves aren’t the same as the stuff the guy sitting next to them loves. Here’s where it gets weird: many humans try to make the other humans just like themselves. This never ends well. (It does explain stuff like Wars, Genocide, Fashion, Drugs and Popular Music.) Refer to Subsection A. The thing to remember here is love yourself but don’t expect everyone else to. The rest is just details.
There y’go kid. I just told you the formula for happiness.
Part Two: The Meaning of Life.
This part is easy. Life is the meaning of life. Folks don’t like that answer for a lot of reasons. Mostly because of the fact that life includes healthy doses of pain, inequity, embarrassment and gross foods (like carrots and other things that aren’t cake) that paradoxically allow you to live longer while making you make gross food faces. Life is complex and uncertain and that is where its meaning is hidden. It is just that life is meant to be experienced, carrots and all. Life is in your Mom and Dad’s faces and in the birds up above, the worms down below and the opinions that fill the spaces between. So when you are alive, go see everyone else’s lives. Experience and touch and taste all the things (ask your mom first please) and meet all the people and find out how they get along, where they get their socks from and whether they have enough to eat. Maybe they’ll tell you a story. Maybe they’ll help you find a lake to play in. Maybe they will share a song with you. Maybe you’ll want to hold their hand and never let go.
And yeah, it may all end really suddenly.
But that is what makes you precious.
So, for now, get some of those gross motor skills under control, learn to hold your head up (literally and figuratively) stop peeing on everyone end enjoy being small enough to be picked up and carried. Because you have a LOT of walking ahead of you.
When I was a kid, I often fantasized about going back in time to save Jesus from the crucifixion. My plan involved my friends (which Jesus already had), dirt-bikes, .22 caliber rifles and walkie-talkies (which Jesus did not have) to thwart the Romans and and save the King of the Jews from his painful death on the cross.
I think that means I have the best Messiah complex ever. I wanted to be the savior for “THE MESSIAH.” Think of the accolades: Handel’s “Messiah” would have just been a warm up for Handel’s “Paul: The Kid Who Saved Jesus.” Dirtbikes and pictures of me and Jesus would hang in churches instead of those gory crucifixes. I might have even had a chance with Mary Magdalene as she always sounded kinda hot. My plan was put on the permanent back burner by not having a dirt bike or a time machine…or friends. Every year before Easter, Jesus died and my plan faded like the lights of the Black Friday evening services, and I left the church feeling heavy. “Were you there when they crucified my lord?” sang Mrs. Bell in her best Mahalia Jackson imitation. “No, damnit, I wasn’t. But if I was, things woulda been a LOT different.”
Now that I am big enough to buy my own dirtbike (I just choose not to), I find myself able to help the world in more practical ways. But I find that marginalized populations don’t always appreciate the level of engagement that white males like myself try to wield. Take for example the following meme:
When I first saw this, I was kinda put off. I’m a proud sibling and uncle of actual LESBIANS, I have friends who are GAY and I’ve even DJ’d at drag shows. My Messiah Complex throbs like a big ol’ red sore on my lip. However, I must remember that as a Cis Gendered Straight White Protestant Male who has the money for a dirt bike but chooses not to get one, this is not my community. Neither is Black Lives Matter or women or pretty much anyone aside from the aforementioned White Males. I can help, but I must not insert myself into their story because I’m not part of the community. This is not my struggle.
To avoid those pesky Messiah outbreaks, I explain it to myself this way:
My family and a “minority” family enter a restaurant at the same time. We are seated simultaneously, and one waiter is assigned to both of our tables. MY family’s table is provided excellent service while the minority table is lacking water and menus and service is slow. On their behalf, I complain to the waiter who eventually steps up his game and gets the minority table served. The fantasy continues where the minority family returns the next night and receives excellent service and discounts based on that waiter’s desire to serve them equally. The fantasy is only fulfilled when the minority customers are served based on their own power and not because I complained.
Our world is lousy with good intentions that have these “instant karma” riders bundled inside them. Everyone wants to punch a Nazi to show how anti-fascist they are. We plaster our social media with dank memes that show our support and raise awareness, and the streets are alive with benefit concerts. Our involvement in these Karmic Resume’ stuffers feel good to us as Privileged White Males. However, the long term goal has nothing to do with us. Non-white-male populations are simply earning their power. They’re not taking it from us and they are not asking us to give it to them. They simply need support and do not need to be saved. And I’m sure even Jesus would agree that an ascension without a messy crucifixion is good for everyone.
Image by Harry Bliss…who really may not even want this cartoon here. But I think it fits and I can’t draw.
Once upon a time, there was this moon. And she was feeling poorly one day when she looked down and saw this golden retriever (dog) looking up at her and wagging his tail.
“Why would you stare at me, dog?” she asked the dog. “I’m just a rock that is cold and alone and will eventually hide my face from you.” The dog simply replied, “Arf.” and began to scratch his ear.
And y’know how sometimes a dog will scratch his ear vigorously and then slow down like he’s about to say something. Well he did that and then said, “I just think you’re beautiful and interesting. Like earlier, you were over there in the trees. Now you’re way up there above the power lines. That’s pretty cool. I can’t do that.”
“That’s just your perception.” she heaved, for she knew that his perception was inaccurate and was dictated by her position in the sky which was relative to the angle of his position on the globe and that that would change as the earth rotated and as she moved in her own orbit.
“No,” insisted the dog for he knew that her perception was inaccurate because she could not see herself and he could see her because of his position on the globe.. “You are important to me. One day, you went away and I MISSED you. And I was sad. But then in a few days, you came back.” his tail thumped on the ground twice.
“Thank you.” she pretended to concede. “So, you don’t mind when I go hide?”
“Naw, it’s how you have to do things. Besides, you’re here now. Do you mind that I poop in the yard?”
“I don’t think I want to talk about that, dog.” she replied.
“I’m really GOOD at it!”
“Can we change the subject?”
“Okay.” said the dog and they both regarded one another for a moment silently.
The golden retriever’s person stepped into the doorway.
“Hey, moon. I have to go in now. I’ll see you tomorrow, right?” he asked with his head tilted a bit.
“Yes, dog. I’m waxing gibbous so I’ll be here tomorrow.”
“Gibbous. That’s a funny word.” and the dog went inside and curled in front of the oven where the tiles were warm and it smelled like people food.
The golden retriever rested his chin on the floor and dozed. When he fell asleep, he dreamt of the time before he was a puppy…the time when he was the moon.
for spike, seaweed, bubba and everyone else who doesn’t get to be a dog today.
I don’t believe in broken hearts anymore. Just people who are so divided and partitioned that they become slumlords of their own souls. Souls with rooms once proudly decorated and alive. Walls where they shouldn’t be…like right down the center of a really great dining room. Grand hallways now condemned by neglect and abuse and cordoned by stacks of boxes of never. No one goes in there anymore.
When we were young, the doors stayed open and the music blared. But commitments were made and contracts were drawn and someone left (or was kicked out). We tried to keep the rooms just like they were but the new tenants didn’t seem to care. And we don’t walk the grounds like we used to. We sublet and divide and disappear inside and if you keep the lights down low, you don’t see the damage.
If it was beautiful once, it will be beautiful again, even if the layout is different.
So…one room at a time, you start cleaning. The old stuff gets taken to the curb. The COOL old stuff gets a spot on the mantle. Maybe new paint. Shades go up and sunlight pours in like 300,000 gallons of honey that spills onto the floor.
Suddenly the scars are patina. The flaws are character. That busted wall could be a cool place for a door so folks could come by and visit.
The Heartless Bureaucrat died (quit) on July 5, 2008.
That is to say, he passed from this life to another. Those stories may be retold here someday. But let’s just focus on what has happened since then. It is all way more interesting. Because a sort of resurrection (started) occurred on July 5, 2018. And, boy(!), he has a lot of stories to tell.
He and I are one sometimes. Sometimes he talks. Mostly me.
Sometimes we will speak for the voiceless. Sometimes they will speak for themselves. And sometimes we say stuff that probably shouldn’t be said for it might make you giggle or blush or need to leave the room.
Together we will feast on bread and dandelion greens and broken glass and hornets and though we feel full, we’ll keep our forks…