I’ve been struggling with topics, things to write about lately. I know people are tired of hearing about COVID-19, and yet it’s also all people really want to read about, and I really don’t like writing, or talking about it. I’m a member of a couple of local Rants&Raves groups on Facebook and they are consumed with COVID, but no one is really actually saying anything; it’s the drama of it, events such as this give certain people a reason to behave dramatically while reason and rational thought don’t really animate a lot of people.
I’ve seen a couple of memes and quotes going around comparing COVID-19 to H1N1, Trump and Obama era viruses, the comparison of a few side-by-side is pretty funny because well, first of all they were antithetical politically, but the statistics and words were nearly identical only the tone was different. One was suggesting that Obama era’s H1N1 was a larger pandemic, it affected more people but our response to it was considerably more calm, because the way Obama handled it, while the other (Trump era COVID) although with a smaller impact had a greater media presence suggesting that Trump is taking it more seriously—hence the national reaction. It’s just funny to me, assigning blame and praise to people as opposed to parties, to parties as opposed countries, and to countries as opposed to nature. Thank you Obama and/or Trump for allowing Nature to take its course, how would the American people have survived without either of you making amended comments regarding the undomesticated course of chance. MotherNature 2020!
Anyway, aside from the first paragraph, I don’t want to talk about Coronavirus: COVID-19. I’m just trying to get those of you that can’t get enough of it hooked to this column so that you might actually read something beyond the scope of the Coronavirus.
It was suggested to me that I use a blog idea generator and write about the 5th idea ‘down,’ so this column will focus on me “Documenting my experience trying something new, or giving something up.”
There are a number of things that jumped out at me when I initially approached the topic:
The first was my experience parenting and how, overnight, I became, essentially, the sole provider and caregiver of two children, neither of which were mine.
However, after sleeping on it, and then rethinking this topic this morning in the shower, and again a good bit while I was at work and out of the house (I work at Natural Grocers grocery store) I thought about documenting my experience trying LSD, but it was rather uneventful; LSD doesn’t engage the mind like shrooms does, it’s just visually stimulating and other than me pointing to the shapes and designs on the carpet and some blankets that were hanging on the walls, and me asking the two friends of mine that joined in the experience if, “...those [are] supposed to be moving?” it wasn’t all that spectacular.
...and I thought, too about documenting my first real, prolonged experience smoking. That too, was limited only to the two weeks that I had two French girls from Paris staying with me, via Couchsurfing.com, in Santa Fe. The first thing they would do, once waking up in the morning, was to stand out on the porch in a French nightgown smoking a cigarette, and it was only then that the appeal of smoking became, suddenly, much more clear to me. “Veux-tu une cigarett?” (would you like a cigarette?”) “I can see right through that nightgown. Fuck yeah, je veux une cigarette!” Almost every morning for two weeks I started my day with a cigarette, but as soon as they left I never felt the need, or the desire to pick one up again.
The other ideas were a product, only of an under-active mind cooped up in a small, dark house and needing the mental stimulation of being surrounded by an active society, and that’s something that we’re all sorely missing right now; even the introverts and homebodies.
There is something that required many, many years of conversation and thought and absolution and open mindedness to really open my eyes up to allowing myself to see something that I was, essentially, raised not to see.
Those of you that read this column have read about my relationship with religion, and G~d and, although, I have discussed parts of it in some detail I’m not sure that I ever actually documented the experience of allowing myself to try looking at something, anything really through a lens that wasn’t blurred by condition, expectation, and stigmas. This is my experience trying something new: opening my mind, to something that many people who claim to have an open mind simply refuse to realize.
I have shared that my father considers himself agnostic, but only because he accepts that he might have to call himself something and for lack of interest, I think, he settled with agnosticism. He was raised in a strict conservative, southern baptist family and to be completely honest I don’t think the politics or the religion of it matter much to him, I believe he cared only to rebel, and that revolution has lasted his entire life.
My mother was raised Catholic. She spent her entire scholastic term at an all-girl Catholic school; 12 years, in Catholic school. If you’ve seen The Trouble with Angels, you might have a pretty good idea of how my mom spent those years, with the exception, of course, of joining the sisterhood and remaining on to teach for the rest of her life. No, mom went a different way. She couldn’t reject the idea that there was a higher power greater than herself, that much was clear to her, she just needed a different way to view that higher power—as long as it wasn’t based in the foundational dogma of Christianity. She had developed a stigma. I don’t know, exactly what happened while she was in Catholic school but I do know that the distance that exists between man and G~d can sometimes be filled with hypocrisy, and seeing that day-in-and-day-out for years, for your formidable years can be influential.
It also took me years to even realize that I maintained a stigma against Christianity, I didn’t even know it was there; when I was triggered by certain words or ideas rooted in Christian belief there would be a tightness in my chest, and my first instinct was to argue, avidly against whatever was being said. I became defensive, and I didn’t even know it.
Once I was, finally able to recognize my stigmas I challenged myself to let it go, I wanted to see everything through new eyes, and with an open heart. But, how do you dislodge a stigma that has been conditioned heedlessly, carelessly since birth?
I started listening to people about their beliefs, and every time I felt the tightness in my core developing I consciously acknowledged it, and when the urge to argue a point or challenge an idea or an assumption came up I stopped myself, and simply listened.
And, what I learned is that I was the one maintaining the assumptions. For a lot of people G~d is a trigger word, and maintaining a belief in G~d demands certain underlying expectations and ideals, but not by those that believe - I stress that point - the expectations and interpretations that challenge your assumptions about G~d in a negative way are deeply-rooted in a stigma that has been defined, only by the holder of the stigma. If you’re unsure what I mean, try looking at it this way: you were raised watching how your parents interact with one another, how they chose to express themselves to each other in their relationship and, as a result, you have unconsciously developed an expectation of what a relationships is, or supposed to be based entirely on that perception. Period. A negative emotional reaction to a belief system is based in deeply-rooted unconscious expectations.
OK, I’m going to try to drastically avert this technical crap.
G~d is not exclusive to Christian Dogma. G~d is as much an idea as he is a divine entity. But it’s really easy when your stigmas forfeit your ability to relate to the act of creation, if you can’t see past your own misgivings. G~d is the act of creation inasmuch as G~d is the creator there’s very little difference except how you choose to perceive it; but one of these ideas is a lot more easy to swallow for people who have an active distaste for Christian doctrine, in large part due to the behavior of Christians, but you’re forgetting that it’s not really the behavior of Christians, but rather the behaviors of humans whom happen to be Christian, whom you are clumping together as a means, simply to ease your own conscripted worldview.
G~d is G~d. It really isn’t much more complicated than that, unless you allow it to be.
At least that’s the process that I allowed myself to take over the course of many years, and many conversations, and many choices, and doubts, and challenges, and assumptions in order to find a more balanced perspective, which has since allowed me to rebuild on a belief system that has grown, and a relationship that has grown, not with any of you or with a specific person but with G~d.
...if nothing else, this is a template for you to use so that you might begin to challenge your own assumptions and expectations, in order to acknowledge and create/rebuild an open mind for you to use however it best applies to you.
A thing that I have struggled with on and off throughout my life has been related to body issues - to a degree. In my youth: middle school and high school aged I was pretty heavily into sports, mostly cross-country, track, and basketball and I worked out a lot. My basketball coach asked me to join cross-country to stay in shape for basketball and cross-country ended up being what I most excelled at, for a while. I was always active. Although, I had such a high metabolism that I could not gain weight, and struggled to build muscle and then for years, after high school, I stopped putting effort in. Eventually I would try to get back into running and then every year I would, unintentionally form new habits; I seemed to be living a completely different life towards the end of a year than I was at the beginning, and I would have to start over again to reform the habit. This was pretty consistently the case through my early to mid twenties, and during that time I moved between Idaho, Utah, New York, and New Mexico and I lived and experienced, probably, the equivalent of what an average person would live and experience through their fifties.
That’s not exactly what this column is going to be about, though.
Living in New Mexico was probably, both the darkest and most enlightening period of my life; I developed a lot of who I had always wanted, and sometimes already—in a sort of an idealistically way—saw myself as, as well as lost a great deal of myself, of which it took years and years to realize, only that I would never get back a lot of who I had lost. Once I did finally realize this I was able to, again work on building and developing that self image that I had both always wanted and, in some ways, always saw myself as.
I put a great deal of effort into disciplining myself, and practically—and actively—applying that discipline to my life.
The foundation of which was always in building, and maintaining my body, my mind, and my emotions. Roman and Greek philosophers understood that without balance we could never be whole in our humanity, and therefore never truly experience the human condition: what it means to be human; therefore apply the test to whatever, exactly comes next.
One cannot understand the mind without maintaining a healthy, and fit body inasmuch as one cannot consciously acknowledge emotion without a sound, and reasonable mind, and in view of the fact that without acknowledging emotion as well as an open and sound mind one cannot discipline themselves to frame and manage the body; without the balance of the three it’s impossible to truly accept and to understand and to enjoy our present condition.
I grew up being asked to develop my mind, and simultaneously, through incidental spiritual development, my emotions. I was exposed to a number of religions when I was younger; my grandparents were Southern Baptist and Catholic and while my dad never really applied religion to his life my mom spent much of her early adult life searching for a religion that she felt comfortable with, it took her away from Catholicism but the endeavor enveloped my family in spirituality. My mom would attend Sunday services and if my sister and I didn’t attend, we were asked to explore spirituality/religion in other ways. I’ve been a reader for most of my life, and I think a large part of that is because I chose to read about a variety of religions, and to understand them academically or, rather, theologically. I consumed authors and their books: C.S. Lewis, Piper, Young, Warren, Freud, Jung, Hume, Aristotle, Plato, Aurelius, Campbell, etc., and then began to explore fiction: Wallace, Franzen, Bolano, DeLillo, Pynchon, Gaiman, Tolkien, Wolfe, Proust, I could get lost naming authors, and eventually Musicians, Filmmakers, Artists, etc., as well.
I have withdrawn into conversation with people that I have not understood and fundamentally disagreed with, and in doing so have had to learn to curb my expectations and my assumptions; which, in turn, has taught me that expectation runs deeply, and is one of our archetypical conditions; this helped me to evaluate mine, because most of our expectations are developed when we’re too young even to recognize them and they follow us throughout the entirety of our lives. Acknowledging this allowed me to create my own axiom from which to revise, and re-balance.
There’s a great TED talk by Ken Robinson in which he describes how our society, through the pyramid of our education system, has elevated the role of college professors, as if the position in life were our objective, and academic conquest was the most important aspect of our societal endgame. Robinson says that, in our society, we’ve come to perceive our body as a means of getting our head from one place to another—I’ve always loved the ideology of that—and that we depreciate the arts, many of which such as drama and dance effort our bodies and our emotions more practically.
These are things that most people ignore because of our preconceived expectations and the fact that we, almost too literally, live in our heads; as a result we condition ourselves to ignore our senses, our emotions, and our bodies, and yet these tell us more about ourselves, each other, and our immediate condition than our head(s) ever could (part of the reason is that our education system is an outdated, obvolute system teaching us that 1. there is a right way of doing things and a number of wrong way(s) and, 2. it’s designed around memory as the primary function of thought.
Once we escape our heads and understand how to apply the balance we’re limited by almost nothing; and the easiest way to begin the effort is by working out, the easiest way is to build your body: run and do push-ups, every day or as often as possible the combination of the two works, nearly every muscle—especially if you change up the push-ups (hover push-ups, and try shifting your weight from left to right, wide gripped, diamond, pike, Spider-man, etc.). When you work your body and you maintain a routine your body begins to recognize that you’re willing to listen to it, and it will start talking to you; now you’ll have to start to learn how to listen. Once you’re body and mind are working together consider reevaluating your expectations, and then start recognizing how your emotions are reacting to your, and the actions/reactions of others.
I’m still working through some of those emotional reactions, things that have developed at different points in my life that have remained dormant because new, similar situations haven't presented themselves, and when they begin to, again, for whatever reason, that emotional “baggage”—for lack of a better word—will, again present some of those developed emotional triggers and responses, especially those that have existed, passively and they can be a real pain-in-the-ass to work through, but understanding them mentally and physically, and recognizing what you’re feeling when you are feeling something intentional it becomes a lot easier to both work through, and to relate to the human experience.
A Heads Up to All My Readers.
I'll Now Be Posting My Columns on Fridays,
as Apposed to Thursdays.
Look for My Column Tomorrow Evening!
Many of you may not know that on top of maintaining my writing and this bookstore, I have been employed with Natural Grocers for the last year and a half. I applied to be a low level member of the ‘Good4UCrew,’ which is to say that I was happily, whatever they needed me to be: a grunt, if you will, so that I might get out of my living room and socialize once again; that worked for me, aside from the expected annoyances of interacting with trouble and elitist customers at the registers it was, essentially, exactly what I was looking for. However, because I quickly became an invaluable member of the staff, the community, the county, the state, the country, and, well, the world, really I am now the Receiving Manager at said grocery store—I was concerned, at first, that the time would eat into my work and my writing but I was able to gradually reevaluate how I manage my time and, for the most part, it’s been working quite nicely. And, with that said, it is important to acknowledge that the following views and opinions expressed are mine and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the company, Natural Grocers.
The point that I’m going to make is that Natural Grocers is an incredible company.
And, just to get this little bit out of the way, no they are not perfect, they don’t do everything right (because no company, for what it's worth, is going to do everything right), they are a family based business and trying to navigate and operate nearly two hundred stores while preserving the Mom&Pop character and quality is not an easy task, and yet the Isely's manage to do it pretty well, considering both the industry and the climate.
Anywho, as far as retail corporations go it is the best that I’ve worked for; and I’ve worked for a few including, but not limited to: Starbucks, Hastings Entertainment, Borders Books, and Barnes & Noble’s. The difference is that Natural Grocers genuinely does care about it’s employees and the communities they represent (Although Starbucks is known for this, on paper and they do appear to be an incredible company, and in many ways they are but the practical management of-, does not translate well to the individual branch).
I may have started shopping at Natural Grocers in Salt Lake City many years ago, I honestly can’t remember; I do, on the other hand, remember shopping at the Natural Grocers in Santa Fe, New Mexico and it was there that I really developed a certain fealty, as a customer. So, when I heard they were opening a store in the neighboring Texas Hill Country town of Fredericksburg (I am now living in Texas), and were in the middle of the hiring process exactly when I was leaning towards taking a more social job, I took it as a bit of a sign.
I accepted the job and that loyalty rapidly developed, for a lot of reasons: the thing is-is that I have worked retail: corporate and independent, I have run and owned businesses, and I really have never seen anything like Natural Grocers. The company is truly remarkable. 100% of our produce is organic.The store is riddled with organic and Non-GMO products, the health alternatives are unbelievable. Each store keeps a Nutritional Health Coach on staff (with the exception of ours for the time being), to help you with your health and diet needs for FREE, we hold free classes of all kinds, the company maintains standards of products and ingredients that MUST be met or we don't carry the product. The company also maintains a standard of, 'World Class Customer Service' and one of the ways that translates is by acknowledging every customer that comes within five feet of you which, in the grocery industry, is fairly unheard of.
On a personal note, and another thing that I haven't been able to stop thinking about, as an example of how Natural Grocers cares, and clearly I mean, they genuinely care: there are somewhere around 160 stores nationwide, I sent an email to the Executive Vice-President of Natural Grocers and received a personal response back within 12 hours, I mean that’s systematically unheard of. It doesn’t happen. And, I think there a number of employees of Natural Grocers that might take that for granted, I think there are a lot of people that might take that for granted.
On top of that not only am I working for one of the best grocers in the business, I got lucky and am working for one of the best management teams that I have ever seen, anywhere corporate or not; the pair, our Store and Asst. Store manager, work off of one another's strengths and weaknesses and their differing management styles help to build a unique and enjoyable work environment. Our store morale is inexplicable, considering, especially, that our dynamic couldn't be greater.
To get back on track, our Store and Asst. Store manager went out the other day to buy Everclear, along with 1 or 2 other ingredients, and they handmade a hand sanitizer for the employees so that we can better assist our customers, per the companies request. I don’t know, that may seem like small potatoes—of which we have plenty, now—but that’s a pretty remarkable effort, and that’s just one small recent thing. And, although the foundations were laid by the company I do firmly believe we owe a great deal of our success as a store to our Management team, Andrea and Emily.
These are trying times, and I cannot ignore, in tribute of Natural Grocers, the company's response to the Coronavirus pandemic. I think, it’s important to create a baseline, so it is important to acknowledge that this company has been phenomenal to it’s employees and it’s communities well before ‘The Spread,’ of Covid-19, and now the action that the company has taken is just as unprecedented as the reaction to the virus itself. I know that a lot of grocers are doing whatever they can for their communities and their employees but, I mean, since this virus started I have received, first: a 5% pay bonus which was followed, immediately by a 10% pay bonus; as well as a $1 pay raise for every hourly employee that is not contingent on the virus, that increase will remain long after the virus, and an additional $1 they gave us which is contingent, and that is not universal response in the industry, towards employee appreciation.
I've heard, recently, how a couple of local grocery chains are experiencing some issues with their employees and how they are relating to their customers; patrons have questions, their scared, their panic buying, their hoarding, while there are many whom are living their lives normally, or trying to without eggs, toilet paper, hand sanitzer, and a variety of produce options, but because many grocery employees are not used to actually speaking with customers, they are not used to acknowledging a patron as they walk into the store or shop the aisles so many of these chain employees are finding it difficult to manage the stress of customer demands; Natural Grocers is well ahead of the curve, we've been asked, since day one, to acknowledge our customers and that has made this transition for us considerably more smooth and our customers have not been as panicked or flustered.
Natural Grocers is a great company to both shop at and to work for. I wanted to write this in gratitude to thank Natural Grocers, and to say thank you to the Isely family! To say thank you to Andrea and Emily! And, a personal thank you to Elle, for the last couple of days, and getting through the stress :)
I believe that the communities that have been lucky enough to have a Natural Grocers during this unprecedented time are getting through it with more ease than those without, and I think that we have been able to offer our customers and our communities more during this time because we're used to offering our communities and our customers more, and I know that, personally, it was easier for me to step up and to play my role because I was doing it for a management team and a company that actively appreciates us, global pandemic or not.
There’s this thing I used to do on nearly a daily basis to consciously connect with, specifically the energies of love and of gratitude; these two, together, form the strongest and most effective in nature, this mediation, for me, has been the closest that I have ever been to G~d; but I haven’t done it in a while, it has been a long enough while actually that I struggled to remember how to begin.
Firstly, I would draw an almost dangerously hot bath, so hot even that I would only run it at full heat and only for as long as the water remained hot, while also running the built in heater in the bathroom; I would let the water heater refill and lay in the bath while the second half of the tub filled with, again, nearly dangerously hot water. I left the door closed in order to, essentially, create a sweat lodge. And I lay in the tub for a while.
(The bath is not an integral part of the process, it just helps me to bring my physical, emotional, and mental state to feeling cleansed, fresh) Than, laying on my bed, I would imagine a light developing at my core and then both feel and imagine it moving upwards through my body until it reached the crown of my head, at which point I would imagine it leaving my body, along with my consciousness and, with my eyes closed, I would look around the room from that, sort of astral projected plane, and I would rise through the ceiling, all the while imagining, still my surroundings: my yard, the houses on the property, the city as I was high enough to see it, and I would continue to imagine the view change the higher into the atmosphere I would rise.
And, after leaving orbit, that little ball of light that began as a pearl sized beam at my core would disappear into space getting bigger the further it went. Eventually I would catch up to it and now it is a big enough sphere for me to enter and then relaxing as if laying on a cloud that would support my weight and limbs exactly as they lay I would think about love and gratitude, while thinking about the things and the people in my life that I was both grateful for and loved; I would start to pay attention to my body starting with my toes and just feel every small twitch, and pain, and itch, and just any feeling throughout my body and I would basically scan myself from my feet upwards thinking all the while, also, about love and about gratitude.
I would imagine, then, with every beat of my heart the frequency, the energy that left releasing into the world love and gratitude, and I would feel the love and the gratitude both leave and enter my body, my consciousness, and then I would think about the source of love and of gratitude, and I would imagine being as close connected to it as possible.
Afterwards I would either bring myself back to my body, in the same way that I left, slowly entering the atmosphere, until I was hovering directly above my body, and sometimes I wouldn’t come back to my body I would simply open my eyes. In either case I would feel lighter, as if I had consciously eliminated whatever stress or frustration or pain or uncertainty or anxiety or heartache that was persisting, stuck somewhere in my body, and I would feel fresh, and different.
I hadn’t practiced this in a while.
I did this evening.
And, I feel like I’ve let go of everything, everything; all the bad, all the good, anything that I’ve been holding on to, anything lingering. And I cannot tell you how comforting and freeing it is. It’s hard to remember to release yourself from the stress and pressures of our day-to-day lives, some of us, many of us have made a habit, a practice of this in different ways, the most common of which is praying, although some people, I think, don’t understand why their praying or even how, it’s just another thing they do like tying their shoes or brushing their teeth. There is a reason for these meditations for our prayers, to release ourselves from the distractions of this life, and to simultaneously connect with our higher power.
I highly recommend it.
Covid-19 is both directly, and indirectly stirring a lot of emotions, and people are dealing with, and relating to it differently; some people are closing themselves off to the people around them while others are prone to frustration and anger, and still others recognize this global pandemic as an excuse to try to connect; but, frankly, it’s no easy for anyone.
It’s not easy for you, and I recognize that.
Many of us are trying to maintain a sense of composure but, when facing an unknown, none of us really know, for sure what to expect or how we might react. It’s a strange time. And, we need to accept that; I need to accept that.
Some of you all may have heard about the Covid-19 strain of Coronavirus popping up here and there throughout the globe, I think a few news stations have reported a handful of stories regarding the virus; for those of you whom haven’t yet heard there is a new strain of a Coronavirus, Covid-19, that is causing severe “flu-like symptoms”—it’s actually more relatable to a severe pneumonia—I’m not going to downplay the sickness, it is not pleasant but it is treatable. You can, essentially, wait it out, it’s killed about 3.4% of those infected and that rate will rise as the number of infected cases rises; if you have a compromised immune system take measures: eat healthier, exercise, take Colloidal Silver and Wellness Formula and Elderberry, actively do things that will boost your immune system.
Any virus or disease that affects a huge portion of the population in such a short period of time is going to frighten people, and the media coverage doesn’t help—even if many outlets are attempting to appear to lessen the buildup, the fact that it is fundamentally occupying the news is directly affecting the way people react. And, that's dangerous.
What few people seem to understand is that the biggest concern regarding Coronavirus is not the virus itself, but the politics that surround the virus: the economics, the angst, and the reactions; the vast majority of people are either over-, or under reacting; people have suppressed the appropriateness of rational thought, in their everyday lives and when that happens we see people starting to lose control.
The rest of the world didn't just stop, remember the Syrian, Libyan, and Yemen Civil Wars and the Afghan Peace process are currently underway; the Democrats cannot find a suitable presidential candidate, the primaries are falling apart, and Trump is making equally as many bizarre resolutions regarding Covid-19 as remarkably sane and levelheaded the latter of which will get him reelected; there was a suicide bombing outside of a U.S. Embassy in Tunisia; Lebanon defaulted in a Eurobond repayment and is currently restructuring it’s debt, the country has never previously defaulted on a debt; U.S. Court of Appeals confirms that “Stairway to Heaven” was not “unlawfully copied;” SXSW was canceled and Coachella has been postponed; Vladimir Putin ‘backs’ a constitutional amendment that would allow him to stay in power through 2024, and even support the possibility of a lifetime “president;” Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in prison…all this has happened since March 1st.
...and the world economy is going to shit, the thing that irritates me about this, now and forever is that people, we are the economy, our actions and reactions are responsible for the life of the economy, but people don’t react well to fear, we are an inherently unconscious group of senseless degenerates and, beyond that, that’s not exactly a secret, so why people continue to manipulate others for personal gain or entertainment has, and will continue to drive me absolutely insane.
I’ve been seeing someone more and more seriously over the past year, and Elle and I are tempted to infect ourselves with Covid-19 forcing a quarantine that will, hopefully, last forever charging us to seclude ourselves to a distant island somewhere very, very far away—thank G~d the earth is flat—from everyone and everything, where we can barter with aimless ships that happen upon our island with coconuts and a variety of tropical birds for toilet paper and face masks, and where we can pretend like this world hasn’t gone completely to shit.
I don’t care about the virus, I really don’t. I'm tired of the reactions, we’re either going to get sick or we’re not, and it’s going to affect us in the way that it is going to affect us. I am a habitual user of Wellness Formula and Colloidal Silver (although I did only just learn the meaning of Colloidal, I didn’t really care enough to research it myself), I eat healthy and exercise daily, these things will help curb your chances of catching it.
The main reason everyone is freaking out is because nobody knows how to deal with the fact that they’re not in control, and when something comes along to force us to acknowledge that, we lose our minds—stock piling toilet paper, because apparently a lifetime supply of toilet paper and washing our hands does restore some aspect of control to our commercial lifestyles, control is an illusion, and it always has been but we preserve it because the alternative is terrifying to many of us.
But, I promise you, the economy and our lives will settle down, even with Covid-19 rapidly infecting people across the globe, if we just remain levelheaded, if we learn to care about what we consume and how, as well as our general health; just live your life as your normally would with the added precaution of a little more discipline and awareness, the fact of the matter is that Covid-19 is a part of our lives now, and we’re just going to have to figure that out.
Welcome to the new normal.
The first U.S. Presidential candidate announced his candidacy 596 days prior to election day. The first U.S. Caucus was 281 days before election day this year. Today is March 5th, the election is November 3rd that’s 243 days from today. Our elections are considerably longer than most countries, I mean, when compared, it’s asinine. Elections in France generally last two weeks, two weeks! Can you even imagine that? In Argentina, by law, a candidate can only advertise 60 days prior to election day.
Campaigning is a business, there is money to be made and why limit the profit to two weeks when you can just always be campaigning, forever? You can just campaign despite not knowing, just yet, what it is you’re even campaigning for!
The United States is the greatest country on earth, but that’s in spite of our economic discourse and ethics, and in spite of our government. The roots of our ‘greatness’ might lie in the ingenuity of our constitution (Yes, I’m aware that we borrowed much of our ingenuity, a large part of why it worked then/now and didn’t prior was timing, and the station of the rest of the world); we’re losing/have lost much of what ‘made our country great,’ but the idea that what was lost can be gained by political reaction is simply not true, and our campaign process can be an example to that. Somewhere in between the lines—the exploration of which would require a much longer essay—of how the American people relate to the political arena to social media to reality TV to the Coronavirus to the business of entertainment to one another it is all rooted in the same pseudo opportunity: how we exploit freedom.
The American people have been manipulated to apply freedom to our day-to-day lives as an excuse to do, nothing. That’s how we actively pursue the rights of the American dream.
1. I maintain the right to do whatever the hell I want, because I’m an American.
2. I’ll exercise that right by doing absolutely nothing.
Still, we do have to find a way to spend our time doing nothing.
Fortunately, no country on earth has put more effort into new ways to entertain ourselves while we sit on our ass doing nothing; so some of the greatest minds on the planet spend their time thinking of ways to engage the American people in the act of nothingness, and how better to maintain a system of government, simultaneously, than campaigning to an overfed, over-medicated, under-stimulated group of elitists?
The answer is that there is no better way, at least when the aim is to control the 3rd largest populated nation on the planet with as few people in power as possible while maintaining the illusions of circumstance and democracy.
If the tone of this column hasn’t expressed it well enough, I hate campaign season. Revered, good people no longer respect the presidency; people that might actually attack the fundamental problems of our nation. It’s like the 2004 Olympic basketball team: nobody wanted to do it, it just wasn’t worth working through the summer, and the United States placed 3rd, returning home with the bronze medal.
Americans like to talk a big game, because we have the history to substantiate it, nevertheless, at present (I mean, roughly, the last 40 years, especially), we’ve just been coasting on the greatness of our predecessors. And no amount of policy or political application is going to change that; we need a leader we don’t need to be lead, we’re relying too much on someone else to fix our problems for us while disregarding what the problems actually are. It’s laziness; we’re lazy, you’re lazy.
Oh, and calm down about COVID 19.
Words like pandemic are scary, and that many people experiencing the unfathomably irritating symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath in such a short time frame is scary too, I guess, but, I mean: take a bath, make yourself some tea, curl up with a good book, watch the first phase of the Marvel movies and then move on with your lives! You have all been looking for a reason to do nothing anyway, remember! There is no more obvious sign of fear based manipulation from the media anywhere, at present. And now you people are spreading it—and everything else—because you think the relevance of social media turns around the gravity of your opinion, it’s doesn’t. Thank G~d!
Go to China, and then go everywhere else, and then come back, and then go to the mall.
And, for goodness sake stop watching the news, nobody is saying anything, nobody has said anything for 20 years.
I didn’t write a column last week. It was an interesting week, there was a lot going on or, at least, it felt like there was a lot going on. There was a lot going on. None of which I am going to share here with you today. It’s funny how life can get to be so routine that it becomes easy and almost comfortable to take what’s familiar and pleasant for granted. The things we have, the people, the life we lead, the opportunities, etc. we can just wake up every day and expect it in our lives, we forget to enjoy it and to covet it. I try to make it a point not to do that, at least with the things that are the most important to me and the most fragile, in the sense that they will not always be there; life is fluid, it’s organic and we have to remember and appreciate that. So I do, and it may not always be so obvious to people why I do and say some of the things that I do and say, nevertheless it’s not complicated and, if you ask, I am willing to share.
Life is too fragile and the people in our lives are too fragile for us to make assumptions, it never hurts to ask, even if you think you already know the answer, and to communicate—sometimes it seems hard, because sometimes it is hard, but the slightest bit of effort and insight will always make a world of difference. I like to think about that scene in The Office: Pam and Jim had, kind of been struggling, it was shortly after Jim started splitting his time between Scranton and Philadelphia, the pair stopped communicating, at least about the little stuff, which would ultimately be the important stuff—the continued conversation about the small things all of the time makes talking about the difficult things that much easier—anyway, Jim was getting ready to leave for Philly and, walking to his car, he stopped, he came back, and gave Pam a hug and, for a moment, she stood there and let Jim hug her, she didn’t hug back, and then she both realized and made the conscious decision to let go of the ‘block,’ all of the things that she had found it difficult to talk about and deal with, and she hugged him, and the two of them began to work through it. Even the Pam’s and Jim’s have to consciously remember to communicate, because even for them it can actually be work, but only if they loose sight what makes them Pam and Jim.
I bought a treadmill. It’s in my bedroom. I ran cross-country in high school to condition for basketball and within a few weeks I was one of the best runners on the team. Since then running has continued to be an important part of my life. No, I’m not one of those marathon running cross-fit lunatics that casually judges people who don’t work out 10 hours a day every day for the better part of their lives. The simple truth is a persons’ body was not designed to exert in that way; in the same way that we were not designed to eat three chemically induced meals a day with more sugar than protein—it annoys me when people are more inclined to believe what they hear and not the inherent truths apparent via a few brief moments of conscious reflection…
Um, anyway, I got a treadmill...
The Greek philosophers, although we hear a great deal, only about how they exercise their minds, were known, as well, for finding balance in the intellectual the emotional and the physical, and that working and maintaining your body not only benefits your body—in a number of physical, uh, enterprises ;)—but it’s equally as healthy and beneficial for you emotionally and intellectually, as well. I was beginning to find increasingly difficult to get to the gym and it was getting to me, ergo: treadmill. I’ve been running at least two miles every day and I feel fantastic! It took a few days to get back into the rhythm of things but when you challenge yourself, just a little, in every aspect of your life all of which are rooted somewhere in the intellectual, the emotional, and/or the physical, the challenges that life brings really don’t seem to challenging. I struggle a bit with depression and anxiety, and either of them can declare themselves without warning, and once they do, if I don’t manage it, they act as catalyst for a spiraling disaster of chimeric upheaval, which is to say that an intelligent and creative mind, when in emotional distress can invent awful, awful truths that can seem alarmingly real. I manage it, for the most part, but without exercise it’s considerably more difficult.
Reading helps too.
I’ve been reading S.: Ship of Theseus by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams, it was a gift, and it’s really good, it’s interesting because it’s layered in story and in interpretation, subjective in a way that, although all books are—or can be—is conceived in a way that is almost romantically so. The Ship of Theseus concept, philosophically, is rooted, in the ideology of identity, in the question that if an objects elements have all been replaced is that object, fundamentally, the same object. What is it that makes a body? The individual components or pieces, or the observable sum of the collection of parts?
And, I wonder how that might relate to the meaning, or intention of this particular column? (And for the sake of abstract speculation: what does the sum of my respective columns say about me? Who am I to you, based solely on how my columns read, and what they are about...)
I wake up every day feeling a tremendous amount of gratitude and respect and love for a woman that I am unquestionably lucky to have in my life. She is a miracle. I am paralyzed, speechless in awe of her. I struggle to understand how someone like her is even possible, she is so remarkable a person, a woman that I cannot intellectually fathom how she can exist. You think I’m exaggerating—she likely thinks that I’m exaggerating—I’m not, if anything I’m downplaying it.
I am in awe of this woman.
You would think that over time this feeling of, just, absolute wonderment would have settled a bit, that as we have grown more accustomed to, and comfortable with one another that I would have been more habituated by her presence, and aside from becoming more accustomed to, and comfortable with her this feeling of awe has only continued to grow.
She is a miracle.
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and maybe the “holiday” has become over-saturated as an opportunity to market and sell greeting cards and other commercial chattel but, like Mother’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Veteran’s Day, etc., being holiday’s of gratitude and remembrance it can also be another opportunity to express to someone you love something in a way that, although it may be commercialized and a bit corny is still genuine; honestly, other than a pseudo, anti-establishment sound bite the argument can be overly pretentious and conversationally dull so I want to take this opportunity to tell her, again:
Elle, I am incredibly grateful and lucky to have you in my life. You are truly amazing: you inspire me, you challenge me, you support and encourage me, you excite me, you enlighten me, you make me laugh (and I love your laugh)...
You are my favorite person: you’re brilliant and informed and perceptive, you’re sexy, alive with passion, I love the way that you see the world (both, for what it is, and for the fantastical that you see, and sometimes try to conceal).
You are my best friend: I trust, and value you, and your opinion above all else. You’re stunningly beautiful; I love your shyness and your innocence, your desire to develop and to grow. I love the way that you feel in my arms: feeling your smile against my cheek, the way that we kiss; I love how we have to force ourselves not to stare too long into each others eyes, because it inevitably crests with such intense adoration that we have to look away.
I love your smiles, your laughs, your walks, your glances; the way you push your pursed mouth to the side when you think, and the way you nibble on your lip when you start to get impatient, or excited.
I love how your moods can change in an instant, leaving me to guesswork and overthought so that I have to work to catch-up.
I love trying too hard to read you and getting it wrong and watching you get frustrated.
I love it when we’re both worried about what the other is thinking, and we dance around it searching for a clue so that we don’t have to ask, because we promised each other that we wouldn’t.
I love it when you walk away to make a statement, all the while silently telling yourself not to look back because that’ll ruin the whole act, and you think I don’t know.
I love the way that your imperfections and your faults have become another thing for me to learn, and to love about you; and how our imperfections only seem to make us that much more perfect for one another.
I love how I can see you behind my eyes every second of the day, as corporeal as if you were sitting here with me; how well I know your eyes, your lips, your face, your hands, and how much enjoy learning you more, every day.
I love the way that your nature radiates from your heart: breathtaking, glowing, awe-inspiring; seeing you that first time, and every day since, it was like watching the sunrise, the most exhilarating and inspired sunrise, and feeling the warmth suddenly reach my face, and my cheeks felt flush, and the day began, and it felt new, and I mean entirely new.
Elle, you have my heart my dear, lovely friend.
Happy Valentine’s Day
I have written both music, and advice columns that covered a wide variety of topics, such as: relationships, communication, lifestyle, business, and life (coaching)