A talk with my son

We went to renew the registration I hold for the car Papa passed down to Jedi.

We waited in line and waited only to realize we needed an emission check. Small annoyance. Several traffic violations in 30 seconds that made me want to smack him upside the head. Sensing my alarm, he says, in what I can only assume was an attempt to comfort me, “I don’t drive like this when you’re not in the car, Mom”.

My response? I thanked him for saving this special demonstration for me. We laughed. We sang alongside one another to Queen. We set a tentative date up for our next family flick: Bohemian Rhapsody. Also, I have a ‘promise to participate’ in a family vacation karoke performance by the same name as we drove to the emission test center.

I decided that I wanted him to try to use the self serve station. This involved me trying very hard to stay restrained by safety belt and not get out and do it myself. I sat with the discomfort and watched. Ok, I also laughed a lot. It was just so cool to be able to watch him dare greatly to be awkward and uncomfortable and laugh at himself in an effort to learn. It was great to see him finding new working parts to his car and connect the dots at how they played into the greater machine.

When kids are little we all have a tendency to overlook those teaching moments. Day to day it seems like nothing changes, but then you’re driven to an emission test, watching a young man learning and it’s mesmerizing how how everything has changed. My little boy is still in there. I see him in the wonder in his eyes.

We started discussing passport services back in line at the BMV. He’s hoping to take a trip to Hong Kong before enlisting in the military. This led into a brilliant idea and discussion about putting him in contact with every personal friend I know who has served because I feel like I can fully accept and support his decision to serve so long as it is a well informed decision. Im an Army brat. My Dad served 20 years. It’s a lifestyle of many sacrifices for the entire family. I’m very honored to know someone in every branch of service. I hope it is of benefit.

When we left the BMV, he brought up the topic of PTSD in the military. I was thankful for this door being opened. I listened to his thoughts. I was disheartened to hear that he thinks upcoming generations will be more desensitized and this will benefit the military. However, I also understand from working in service to others. Tears welled up in my eyes and words began to fail me. I didn’t know what the right thing to say was, but I wanted and felt a great need to say something.

He has decided to enlist after graduation next year and I want him to make the most informed decision. Not recruitment crap. Momma didn’t raise no sheeple. It’s a fine line to walk when has talked about serving since he was little and I know he wants “it” and I have so much

I went with my heart.

I said, ” Son, I hope with every fiber of my being that future generations won’t be more desensitized, but perhaps, will begin to feel like it’s ok to not be ok. The idea that it is more badass to bear/bare vulnerability than be ‘the strong, silent type’. I also feel like more parents have awareness about the need to provide our children with the proper tools to process their emotions. It’s evolutionary to be wiser than past generations, right?”

I hope.

I really do hope for him … and all of us really.

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.

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