barraging your ego
slow crust build
that candy shell
there you are
didn’t want to be
years of practice
appears to shrink
loss begets begin
same size again
barraging your ego
slow crust build
that candy shell
there you are
didn’t want to be
years of practice
appears to shrink
loss begets begin
same size again
The last few years has been a tough ride for me personally. I lost a brother to an overdose. I lost my mother to cancer. I lost one of my oldest friends, and the best man in my wedding, to Alzheimer’s. There’s also a handful of other major events that would take too long to explain in this particular post. When I look back at every one of those losses, there is a fairly large gap in my blog post history. Who knows why? I suppose it’s one of the ways I don’t deal with grief, by simply ignoring any decent coping mechanism I have for processing it.
A week ago today, I lost one of the most influential people I have ever had the privilege to know and collaborate with. This time the loss is directly relevant to my spiritual well-being, as well as what I write about.
Brian and I met over a decade ago, when he was hired by a friend of his, who was also my boss. A lucky break for me since the same guy had been telling me that I would probably get along really well with his friend Brian. A suggestion that sparked one of the most pivotal relationships in my life.
He was more than just a friend. He was a mentor in a number of areas for me. At other times, he preferred to be the student. It was one the purest definitions of friendship I have ever experienced. For myself, I believe that’s because we recognized ourselves in each other.
Over time, we created and authored a number of blogs that discussed a range of topics. He was one of the few people I can honestly say was able to deliver criticism to me in a way that completely bypassed my defenses, and the need to defend myself from the criticism. He could bypass my defenses and deliver information in a way that made it easy to see his point, simply removing my normal need to save face.
I don’t write because I want to. On most days, it’s more of a need. But, when my ego flairs, writing the type of stuff I do can be painful sometimes. Based on what I know, I suspect that Brian had to learn how to reduce his own ego before he could help anyone else with theirs. I am a far better person today for having known him.
I haven’t used his full name for a few reasons. The first of which is that I haven’t sought any sort of permission from his family to compose a written memorial. But also because I think I knew him well enough to know that, the idea of anyone trying to memorialize him in any way, would have given him the heebie jeebies.
Over the years he pushed me hard to get over myself, and to finally realize some of the projects I wanted to work on. But, like most people, most of it’s blocked by whatever bullshit excuse for a fear that I’d given myself. Each time that he pushed, he was careful to do so in a way that was always most helpful to others, and less likely to focus accolades back on us. In other words, Brian showed me what humility was, from the inside.
Okay, so now after having written all of that nice stuff, it also appears that I have also acquired my own glasses-wearing, mustachioed Obi Wan-ghost, wandering around and bugging me that I’ve still got work to do.
You see, I am not trying to memorialize Brian so much as I am trying to write about the passing of a close friend as a way to exercise my own demons. And also to let people know that I plan to change directions with this blog for a little while, if that’s okay (and even if it’s not). This blog was never meant to be a political bitch session. That’s purely a side effect of our current political climate.
I have been working on a series of essays that discuss the current and ongoing change in status that cannabis is experiencing as medicine, as well as how that might affect people in recovery for things like alcoholism.
Because of some of the training I have, both personally and professionally, this is a topic of great personal importance to me. It’s also one that few seem willing to tackle. And it’s here that Brian recently applied his gentle pressure, for me to continue to explore the subject, so that we could continue to help others in whatever way works for them.
My secondary reason for this post is to ask help from the readers: If you know anyone who can be helped by this information, please share it with them, this topic must be a give and take. Like much of our political discourse these days, the medical benefits of things like cannabis are subject to media favoritism. And the popularity of certain methods and medicines, ebbs and flows on public perception. A perception that is largely informed by backdoor deals and lobbying efforts, usually designed to enrich someone else, somewhere else.
What we really should be doing is using the technology we passively browse, and instead push it to increase our own access to information. We need it to help us expand our knowledge of the truth, and about the real efficacy of our medicines, and our politics. And for many who are trying to recover from addiction, helping them to increase the quality of their own internal lives.
Having said all of that, I want to once more thank Brian for everything he was able to teach me (not always such an easy task). And to also let him know that I miss him, and that I love him. Something I’m sure he knew, but I don’t think I got to say out loud.
Between yesterday and today, thousands of Americans have considered switching political affiliations.
First, we have a massive hurricane making landfall in the Carolinas. There are also scores of houses burning in Massachusetts due to a gas line issue.
It’s for these reasons that thousands and thousands of conservative, self-sufficient, pull-themselves-up-by-their-bootstraps kind of folks will suddenly decide that Socialism ain’t so bad after all. It’s a common conversion that happens when your house is on fire, or you need to be rescued from the roof of your flooded home.
When it comes to paying taxes, they’re a fiscal conservative/capitalist who is more than willing to fight the good fight based on the “It ain’t right, because the 16th Amendment” argument. But once their house is burning or floating, they are happy to proclaim their status as Americans, shouting, “But, I’m a taxpayer!” as their expectations of public services suddenly exceeds their demonstrations of individuality.
When the shit hits the fan and you have to do the unthinkable and ask for help, it’s because your ego has finally fallen from its lofty perch long enough for your spirit to recognize that we are all actually in this together. And just for the briefest of moments, we are all on the same side. Even them liberals, and non-whites.
At the moment, I think the most glaring resentment I have against the *president is that he has single-handedly remind me of the fact that Jeff Sessions is human, and deserving of compassion.
I may not like the AG’s politics, or his views on race, or a whole bunch of other crap the man espouses, but he is still human. And more than most, he needs compassion. It’s clear how much he does!
He has embraced racism his whole life. And anyone who can sit in judgement of another person, solely because based on their culture or the color of their skin, is a person who lives in hell. A man who dwells in a never ending labyrinth of nameless fears.
And in his own way, Sessions has decided that his job is to remain between the most autocratic *president the country has ever had, and the investigation that will most undoubtedly bring him down. And yet, Sessions is there, protecting Americans by blocking the *president, even if just for a little while.
A few days ago the *president blasted his AG again. But this time it was for enforcing the law. You’d never have believed it even a couple of years ago, but the reason the *president attacked his Attorney General is because he did not protect a couple of loyal henchmen, ultimately allowing them to be charged with crimes.
Worse yet, there appears to be no evidence that the *president actually understands the finer points of guilt and innocence. He only sees friends and enemies. Period. And Sessions just allowed two friends to be locked away.
Despite everything I know about the Attorney General, and everything I know he fights for, he is still a person. And each person is worthy of compassion. Maybe it will make him think twice about the impunity with which the *president tossed him away. And even more about the sudden support he’s getting from the resistance. You never know…
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a shower.
So, news reports have said that members of the Trump administration have been denied service in, and chased out of, businesses they thought they had the right to frequent as a normal customer. It’s completely unfair.
And I hear they’re also having trouble finding dates, or keeping them when they do. People are just walking out in the middle of dates when they find out someone works for the administration. It’s just rude.
No one likes to be judged by others. Especially not before they even get a chance to know you. And something personal, like where you work or what you believe in, shouldn’t affect what restaurant you’re allowed to eat in… Right?
This one was tough to put into words, even more so in writing.
You know, I’m glad that people are shocked and motivated to raise awareness about suicide since the passing of Anthony Bordain, and Kate Spade. Similar concerns erupted around Robin Williams suicide a few years ago too. But unfortunately, it’s very likely that these concerns will have to get voiced again, and again, since this problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
Awareness is a good thing, but in and of itself, it’s not very practical. Compassion, and awareness need to be paired with action to show their real effectiveness. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying awareness is useless. I mean, it sure beats some of our other bright ideas, like ‘life’s a beach’ T-shirts, truck balls, and Budweiser mirrors, but it is only awareness after all.
Suicidal ideations don’t usually just come out of nowhere. Usually those kinds of thoughts are like an old friend that has quietly whispered never ending doubts into your ear for many years. And it’s not usually a threatening voice either. In fact, to the some sufferers it’s a very reassuring one, because it’s the only one that offers anything resembling relief, however final it may be. While the idea of suicide may seem a tad drastic at first, with constant nudging from that voice, it begins to lose that feeling of being such an “extreme act”.
It should be universally understood that someone is no longer functioning normally when they are willing to conclude that everyone they care about (and who cares about them) would be better off if they were no longer alive. It should be, but it isn’t. Instead, people confuse depression with sadness, in much the same way a very vocal minority confuses climate with weather.
For the sufferer, anything that interferes with their ability to wallow in their own thoughts, gets jettisoned quickly. The passage of time is only relevant to how long it’s been since their last bout. For years the voice has been convincing them how minor their death will be, that everyone is better off, and how it has always been an option. And the more they listen, the more powerful it becomes, just like Hyde did to Dr. Jeckyl.
If you know someone is struggling, you need to reach out to them. Think for a second about how willing you are to reach out when you’re feeling down… a lot of us would just like crawl back to bed, at the very least. So take a few minutes out of your day to talk with them and catch up. Make sure to stay in touch with them, because a huge part of the problem is the almost total inability to ask for help!
If we know someone who might actually need help, we should encourage them to talk to their doctor or seek another form of help. We should keep in touch with them, and follow up. We need more human contact, we’re all beginning to realize how much of that we’ve given up for our phoneputers. And I’m probably guiltier of it than most.
I’d love to wrap this up in a nice bow that tells everyone how we can fix it. Yeah… that’s not how this works. Helping people can be inconvenient sometimes, but we aren’t going to solve some of our more ‘human’ problems without getting right in there and showing that we give a shit.
Being an American does not mean you should or shouldn’t possess a gun, but we should respect each other’s right to choose either. It’s a gun, it’s designed to kill people. You should be glad not everyone wants to do that.
Being an American does not depend on where you were born. We are all a mix, and we always have been. No one likes to be the last one picked for a team, so don’t be a jerk.
Being an American does not mean you need to speak a particular dialect, and we have never had an official language. Don’t be so self-centered, you look and sound different to other people too.
Being an American does not mean we must obey a particular religion or God, but we sure do know enough to keep them all out of our laws. If everyone doesn’t believe in something, then there’s no way you can rule with it. Ignoring this always leads to uprisings.
Being an American means you don’t need to know the words to our national anthem, or even to stand up during it. There’s people who think you should, and others who think you shouldn’t. The wonderful thing about freedom is when you get to exercise it.
Being an American does not mean you have to submit to an arranged marriage, or any marriage for that matter. And if you do want to marry someone else, we are finally beginning to realize that it’s no one’s business who you fall in love with. No matter how closed-minded people can be, no one like’s to be told what to do.
Being an American does not mean you have to fit in one of the predetermined parties that we group people by in politics. In fact, most of us rarely like everything that comes bundled up by a single political group. It’s almost as if people are actually different. That’s a good thing.
Being an American does not mean you have to like your president. In fact, we have always believed that a peaceful protest to can help right the wrongs we sometimes make. America has always tried to assure that the minority opinion gets heard. And when it doesn’t, it is our right to engage in constructive dissent to see that it does.
Being an American means that we recognize the world is bigger than us, most people are different from us, nothing is forever, a majority does not equal harmony, we don’t like bullies and monarchs, and we prefer to change our public servants often.
Being an American means that we take the good with the bad, and strive to be better next time. It means that you shouldn’t insult others for protesting during an anthem, especially if you can’t remember the words to our other national ballads.
Being an American means that we do believe, we do care, and we are united. But what we care about, what we believe in, and what we unite over, is different for each of us.
We are strong because we are different. We are special because we are equal. The most aggressive are the most afraid. And what looks like the end always brings a new beginning.
So I’m sitting here watching some of the royal wedding stuff, when they show both William and Harry walking along in uniform. And while I don’t totally ‘get’ royalty, I quickly grasped something completely different from this scene.
It occurred to me that, traditionally the British Monarchy has always laid their lives on the line for their country and crown. In fact, Prince Harry actively fought in Afghanistan through two tours, and was considered a high value target to the enemy. That is as real as it gets. And that is also a sacrifice that many of us understand all too well.
And while Americans like to think we are so much more advanced because we are no longer tied to those barbaric royal traditions, everything is not what it seems.
Sure, we famously spearheaded the ideas of the democracy. We developed radical ideas, such as, we would now trust in our citizenry to defend and run the country. We were no longer willing to trust some out-of-touch royal bum-sniffer, so removed from the struggles of daily life, that they have no clue as to what their subjects have to go through in their daily lives to survive. And worse yet, the same out of touch rulers think it’s only proper that they pass on this power to their clueless heirs.
Except, that’s not really what’s happening, is it?
Instead, as I watch Prince Harry gets married in his military uniform, I can intuitively conclude that this prince who is all the way over in Great Britain has far more in common with everyday people, than President Bone Spurs ever could, or even wants to. Because in America, political power will always get you out of military service, if you don’t want to go.
It seems as though our “representative government” went off the rails somewhere along the way. Instead, this morning millions of Americans spent the early hours of the day, fantasizing that they were somewhere, and maybe even someone else, at least for a few hours.
At some point I’m pretty sure Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have had a talk that went something like this:
MM: “Oh my God, I’m so embarrassed that the media is dragging all of my family skeletons out of the closet where everyone can see them. I’m so sorry Hank!”
PH: “Oh no! Don’t give it another thought Love! Me Great Grandaddy once subjugated an entire continent! I mean c’mon, it doesn’t get much more bloody awful than that! And who knows how many of me own ancestors married their relatives just hold on to the crown jewels? I mean, the family jewels they should have been worried about were the ones that were producing the next generation of heirs. You can’t overshadow the Royal Family when it comes to embarrassing families m’love!”
I have started about two dozen posts about this latest shooting, but have published none, because the story keeps morphing. It started as the horrible tragedy that is yet another school shooting. And as the story started to emerge, it became clear that there was something different.
The idea that people had contacted the police, and the FBI on this shooter long before he acted, showed just how broken the system is. Add to that the fact that the shooter himself flat out told people that he actually aspired to be a school shooter… well, that simply shows the desensitization that we’ve all gone through.
Of course, somewhere in the middle of the whole thing, the President of the United States actually tried to make the story about him. That’s a first. But, then he made what is probably the most toothless political gesture, banning bump stocks. I mean, aside from the fact that this shooting didn’t even involve the use of bump stocks, but bump stocks aren’t even a weapon. Of course the NRA is staying quiet, so far the plan is working!
And then there are the students…
They are the reason that this story hasn’t ended, and won’t end, any time soon. They are the something different that has been needed in these stories for a long time. There have always been survivors and families who have made gun control their life’s work after events like this. So why is this different? Just ask any marketing person how difficult it is to predict when teenagers will suddenly connect with something; a fashion, some slang, a technology, or even a cause. Because once that barrier has been crossed, whatever it is will catch on in ways no one can control, or predict.
Now that the protest are beginning, we need to keep watch as the threats to young people grow. The NRA and its lackeys will not play fair (“they’re all actors!”) in their pursuit of war machines. And they will not care if their targets are minors. Some school districts are threatening suspension, while others are giving out civics credits for it.
Despite everything that the NRA and many of its financial recipients will tell you is that isn’t about “coming to get your guns”. It’s about the difference between rational (“I have a couple couple rifles and a shotgun for hunting.”), and obsessive (“Obama is a black gay Muslim socialist! I need a couple extra AR-15’s to store in my shelter with my canned goods, and my tinfoil hat!”)
And it’s about the end of all of the ridiculous excuses. There are people with mental illnesses in every country in the world, so why don’t they have mass shootings all the time. No one tells you it’s not a good time to talk about hand washing because it’s “not the time” to talk about it, because it’s insensitive for all the people who have recently died of the flu. Every one of those excuses is designed to play upon our morality. Think about that… Every tactic is made to play upon your humanity!
That’s what we are dealing with. People who will not give an inch, don’t care about bloodshed, and will use morality in the name of the immoral. Let’s see what happens when they go up against youth, optimism and the sheer force of adolescent willpower.