A Letter of Hope from Henry Rollins

I hate “we’re fucked.”

I mean, I don’t want to shame anyone who has said it, thought it, or posted it. I have too. But as a philosophy, as a statement of belief, I hate it. Because it means you’ve given up.

We are absolutely NOT fucked.

Things are so bad. This country has taken a turn that I could never have predicted. It is absolutely fascist, nativist, and extremist. It’s every bit as scary as it seems.

But we are not fucked.

I read a long-form article on the Russia hacks in the New Yorker not long ago. However much you think that influenced the outcome, it was an instructive piece of journalism. There is very little indication that there was a specific political agenda that was being wished for. The goal was simple: Sow chaos and undermine the faith of Westerners in their own institutions.

This is really important to think about right now.

I have a high regard for Mueller and I think his investigation will have some influence. But don’t wait on him to save us. He can’t. And don’t wait on impeachment. I would support it fervently, but it is nothing to bank on. And especially don’t assume Trump can’t win again. He absolutely can. Our best bet – better, even, than all of our protests and actions – is actually voting.

It’s so square. It’s so old-fashioned. Many of us involved with the hard-left or anarchist scene have been trained to disregard it.

Fucking don’t. NOT NOW, guys. It is the best tool at our disposal. Yeah, you can say that they will sabotage it, reject it, whatever. “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.” In other words, don’t create troubles before they exist. Anything seems possible to me right now, but it remains the case – despite hacked voting machines and gerrymandering – that there is no known mechanism by which our government can deny massive voter turnout.

Take back the House in November. Then take back the Presidency in 2020. The worst thing we could do is pretend that these are givens. I never, ever, ever thought that this piece of shit could sit in the Oval Office. I was so humbled by my error. Therefore I assume he could take it again – I know he could – unless we accept the threat as real.

When we say, “We’re fucked,” we roll over. We defeat ourselves. We do their job for them. Don’t do that. We are NOT fucked. We are in a fight. It sucks. It’s hard. People are suffering. The earth is suffering. It will get worse.

You know, since everyone loves the Nazi comparisons, there were people during the HEYDAY of the Third Reich who NEVER said, “We’re fucked.” They said, “We’re in a fight.” And you know what’s interesting? Nazi Germany went from the worst regime in the world to a liberal democracy within a lifetime.

Look at Japan. Take the historical view. Stop pretending that the worst of what’s happening now is what is going to always happen. This is what is happening RIGHT NOW. That’s all you know. If you think it’s going to be this way forever, read a book.

Countries slide into fascism for long periods. It happens. Countries also have short-term extremist right-wing governments. Happens in Europe all the time. They get voted out. The threat remains. The threat of fascism will remain in America in a way it never has before. It’s a real movement. But we’re not fucked. Not even close. We can get off the ropes in the mid-terms and knock them out in 2020. But only if we stop saying that we’re fucked, and start seeing this as a fight.

I’m no Pollyanna. Things are so unutterably bad that I walk around in a constant state of nausea and horror. But you have to take the historical view, and you can’t lie down and say we’re doomed, or else they have beaten you.

Again, I don’t want to shame anyone who says, “We’re fucked” as an emotional reaction. I get it, I really do. But if you say that as a historical reality, then you SHOULD be ashamed. We are so far from being fucked. It’s time for that warrior spirit, from everyone.

 

Our best bet, actually our only realistic bet, is to mobilize the vote. There has always been a silver lining to this situation. I have always hesitated to state it, for fear of sounding like I am not taking the horror seriously. Fuck that; I do. But there has always been the possibility, there remains the possibility, that this is a time when our country faces up to its worst reflection, sees it truly, and breaks the fucking mirror. A time when the last bastion of white power and male supremacy and oligarchy attempts to enact fascism, but the antibodies of the American system and American multi-culturalism kick in to reject it.

Where do you want to stand in that equation? As someone who rolled over because we’ve have had two awful years of shit that much of the world has already experienced many, many, many times over, so you decided that we’re finished and done for? Come on. Look at Europe, look at Africa, look at Asia. Back and forth with this shit, and much worse.

I have your back. Get up. Here’s my hand. Let’s fight.

 

It can’t become hip to give up. It can’t become hip to say we are fucked. Look at history. People have been so much more fucked than us, and won. If you truly believe we are finished, I’m sorry, but you were the first to fall. Stick a fork in you, turn you over, you’re done. I don’t want to see you do that, if only for the selfish reason that we need you.

Do all the protests, do all the direct action, make all the phone calls, then mobilize in October and November. That’s when we can get off the ropes and start punching again. Take the long view, my sisters and brothers. Don’t let them take you out of the fight.

And if you need me for anything, I am here.

Dream

I just had this really vivid dream about you and I. We were looking for something and you were shining this light, I thought it was a phone flashlight but when I looked at you the light was beaming just from you. It was as if you were the light. And you said “Look. Do you see now?” and you shined the light on our skin. I had a magnifying glass and we could see everything we were, cell and fiber, were triangles. I woke up and knew I needed to look up the meaning of triangles.
Now every hair is standing on end…

It’s time.

Time to move on. Time to get going.

What lies ahead I have no way of knowing.

I’ve always thrived on human connection and I’ve been hiding away from it. I’m sure there’s something to be said for giving myself time to heal and strengthening my courage muscle, but at this point, waiting on the side lines does not feel authentic to myself. It feels safe and comfortable, but nothing grows in comfort. I need more contact and intimacy. I’ve been tip toeing around it and feeling very numb. I cannot sit idly waiting for another to know the triumph of vulnerability any longer.

So, off I go –DARING GREATLY

On a good note

Perhaps it is the steroids treating my pneumonia talking, but as awful as I feel physically, my heart is hella happy.

First night of summer and my baby girl finally spread her wings and socialized. Met knew people. Genuinely laughed. Bounced up the stairs at 10pm just making it home for curfew and the thing she’s been missing for so long….that happiness, that genuine lust for life as she relayed the events and conversation of her night.

It bound up everything in me that had been emotionally destroyed.

I can’t explain it beyond that. I’ll take it.

Note to Self

You say you want happiness.

We all do.

But the truth is, you’re scared shitless of it. Completely bat shit crazy of having it because lo and behold if you get it, if you experience it and get used to experiencing it, you just might lose it. Here’s a little 411 for you: so am I, and so is everyone.

That’s our first problem.

The second one is this: most of us wouldn’t know happiness if it appeared on our doorstep and introduced itself.

Happiness. What is it? We walk around striving for it, hoping for it, and looking for it in all the wrong places; but the truth is, most of us wouldn’t recognize happiness if it tackled us in broad daylight and held us down screaming: “I’m here, I’ve arrived, I am your happiness, see me, see me, see me.”

I know this one like I know the palm of my own hand.

I was a miserable child. From the outside I looked happy and carefree, but on the inside, for as far back as I can remember, I longed to be happy one day. Back then, happiness was simple in my child’s mind—it consisted of staying in one place for more than a year, escaping my mother’s harsh tongue and dodging creepy, lurking relatives. Even as a small child, I kept thinking: “one day I will be out of this house and on my own, and then I will be happy.”

The trouble is, that search and that anticipation lasted beyond leaving my childhood home. It followed me through college as I longed for graduation day and dreamt of escaping my studies—then  and only then, could I be happy and free.

Of course once I entered the job force as a diligent nine to fiver, happiness awaited me after work and on the weekends. Happiness lurked about in my mind’s eye through anticipated vacations surely delivering happiness within those 14 days of no work bliss.

But did it?

Hell no. Happiness was never in any of those end point intellectual destinations.

Happiness did not arrive when I fell in love, got married and walked down that aisle. Happiness did not arrive along with my huge bonus checks and yuppy lifestyle. And happiness certainly did not arrive when I worked my ass off to fit into that bikini and take that trip to an exotic island.

Happiness never arrived because happiness wasn’t an outside job. It was, and is, an inside one. One that we are all entirely terrified of grabbing.

Grabbing the brass ring of happiness means that we hold still for a little while and look around at the life we’re living. Happiness lies in acceptance and gratitude for what is. Happiness lives in the smallest of small things: the scent of the morning grass when the sprinkler first hits lawn against early light; happiness hangs out on the little hairs of your dog’s ears back lit by sunlight, and happiness exists in the way a lover’s arm feels heavy across your back as you struggle to claim your side of the bed.

You see, happiness is so tiny and so small that it’s fleeting if you don’t take the time to see it.

I write about happiness on my blog, and teach 40 day workshops on rebooting yourself so you can live a life you love. My entire message to the world is about positivity and happiness; but the truth is, most of the positive spin we try to put on things is horse shit.

We live empty lives searching for happiness, while touting yoga mantras and positive affirmations. Truth be told, our habit of putting a positive spin on things is actually like frosting a cake made of crap with beautiful frosting. It’s a lie and it’s not a pathway leading to true happiness.

True happiness takes courage.

I’m talking the vulnerable, put yourself out there and  look like a total fool sort of courage. It’s not easy. You’ve got to be willing to break from the norm, appear uncool and stop caring so damn much about what other people think of you.

We’ve all got to take the time to slow down, break from this crazy pace in life and take a minute to sit and stare at the sky without checking for a text, listen to the birds without multi-tasking in our heads, and walk the dog without the cell phone while risking a missed call. We’ve got to shelve our egos and say yes to love, open ourselves up to being hurt beyond hurt again, and say hell yes to taking chances.

Yet  most of us aren’t willing to take a small chance on anything.

We say we do, but we don’t. We say we will, but we won’t. You don’t. You know you don’t. You play it safe and color between the lines like a good girl or a good boy. You’re afraid to open up and be vulnerable and say to someone:  “you know what, I adore you, I love you, I’m afraid you might leave me one day, and honestly I’m afraid period.”

We’re all afraid.

We’re afraid to relax and enjoy life and instead we work long hours to make that money to go on that two week vacation that in the end…ends. Then we’re left with pictures and memories that fade quickly and credit card debt that doesn’t.

If you would slow down and appreciate what you have daily, happiness might just poke her head out from behind your back and say: hey, here I am. If you would count what you’re grateful for on your fingers and toes every single morning and every single night, you might start to sense what happiness tastes like. When you realize that the fact the sky is blue, the sun rises everyday, and the beat of your pet’s heart are all miraculous, happiness might just start to let you catch her scent.

But instead, we find it easier to chase after happiness which is insanity. Chasing happiness is like trying to catch your own shadow.

It’s not possible because it’s part of you.

Happiness is inside of you. It’s not out there, it’s in there. But there’s no way to reach it unless you slow down, get quiet, and stop for a little while to notice.

They say that time doesn’t exist, and those same scientists say that when you break anything down, you’ll see a bunch of moving atoms that when you break those down, you’ll see nothing but space—empty space.

They  say that there’s no out there either. This means that there’s no time, there’s nothing but empty space and there’s nothing out there. Kinda boggles your mind doesn’t it? Well, if that’s all true (and it is), there is no where out there to find happiness. Psst…because it’s inside of you.

Ask anyone dying of Cancer, or going through hell. When life pulls the rug out from under you and you’ve got nothing to grab onto, or hope for, there’s a crystal clear clarity that comes. In those moments, you realize well shit, the smallest of things make me pretty happy right now because that’s all I’ve got to hold on to. And in those moments of hell, you finally realize lo and behold, happiness is in the way my child’s hair smells after an afternoon nap, it’s in the feel of my dog’s paw on my leg and it’s in the way my partner’s eyes look when they say I love you.

It’s not out there after all. It’s right here in front of me.

But that’s only half of this troublesome equation.

Even when we do start to recognize happiness, we’re afraid to grab onto it and trust it. We’re afraid to actually relax into enjoying it because God forbid, what if we taste it and start to like it and then lose it? What if? What if? What the F– if?

Yeah, that’s the absolute deadliest of problems we all face in this quest for happiness. We’re more comfortable wishing for happiness than we are actually noticing it and enjoying it. Our entire society is based upon anticipation and hope. Striving for what’s next, what’s better and what’s around the corner.

All that anticipation and striving delivers us right into the next moment, but you know what?

Happiness is back there behind you, like a shadow, in the now moment. Happiness is the polar opposite of someday. It’s the complete antithesis of one day, and it’s never to be found in the when. Happiness is here now if you relax enough and have the balls to accept it.

Being grateful for the job you have and realizing that regardless of how you feel today, you’re in this job for a reason. At one point you wanted it. At one point you hoped for it.

That partner of yours? At one point you wanted them, but because you’re always searching for what’s better or what’s next, you don’t take the time to appreciate what you’ve got right there in front of you. And that body of yours? I’m betting if you lost your right leg tomorrow, you’d long to have that chubby little cellulite filled inner thigh back again, wouldn’t you?

So relax and let yourself realize right now: you have everything you really need right here.

If you relax and appreciate what you’ve got, chances are you might actually slip into a grateful moment; and if you’re really brave enough to totally relish that moment, happiness just might slip over you like a soft warm blanket of goodness—so good in fact that you slowly let your eyes close and let that sweet satisfaction of happiness embrace  you for a little while

The problem with label makers

Recently it has occurred to me that the only person who ever really knows you, is you. We exist in people’s minds as their own perception and that perception is based on their own beliefs and life experiences. People always fear what they don’t know. I watch as so many try to make things fit into little, tidy boxes which they can fit into their lives, but rarely do they ever try to discover and understand. There’s a large piece of me that wonders if this lack of putting ourselves in others shoes, compassion, is because there are too many shoes now.

Our world view used to be compromised of our family, friends, neighbors and colleagues. We belonged to one another. We watched out for one another. As the internet superhighway revealed new landscapes, cultures, people and problems, it seemed as if we were evolving to a greater sense of stake in humanity, but somewhere, something happened. I don’t know if we have become desensitized from exposure, or lazy and label-reliant.

Why do we so often jump to a label and why the hell would we think that any label could be all-encompassing of every fiber of a human being’s existence?

Single. Divorced. Female. Male. White. Black. Mother. Father. Son. Daughter. Brother. Sister. Friend. Addict. Average. Beautiful. Smart. Disabled. Obese. Bipolar. Narcissist. Loyal. Kind. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Buddhist. Gay. Neuro typical. On the spectrum.

All of these words have a different meaning because we all have different perspectives.

For example, seeing someone as a traitor is not an absolute truth, even if everyone believes it.

Another example, hearing something about someone you “know” and thinking, “That’s not the person I know.” This, on the other hand, is actually true.

This is why you should question everything you’re told, even if you heard it from me.

The most interesting take away from all of this has been discovering what people think of me and realizing that it almost always has nothing to do me. It’s their perception and if you pay attention you learn WAY more about the other person before they’d ever have a clue they’d given themselves away.

It’s slowly becoming the most frightening and exhilarating discovery of my life.