“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.”
– Charles Bukowski
Today is my dad’s birthday. I miss him. Right down to the bone marrow, I miss him.
And sometimes I don’t even want to live anymore either.
But not because I miss him so much. That would just be weak.
Rather because, the lifeblood flowing through our society’s veins is commerce when it should be kindness. And sometimes that heaviness is just too much for me to bear.
Especially since we all share the same destiny.
But here I shall stay because, well, there’s much work to be done.
And by “work” I mean: sensing beauty when I can and more importantly, adding beauty when I can.
Maybe you will consider the same.
The crazy thing is, my mom wouldn’t have had the good time she had today if my dad didn’t die from brain cancer a few years ago.
How’s that for an opening sentence?
Got your attention now, don’t I, you squirrelly bastards…
I just got off the phone with my mom. She played golf somewhere on Long Island today.
She played awfully, since she’s a rookie, but had a lovely day laughing with the ladies she recently met at the gym.
It’s crazy because there’s no way in hell, or even in heaven, today would have unfolded the way it did for my mom if my dad was still around.
They would have been at the beach. Or taking a drive somewhere. Or just sitting around the house together.
And I’m certainly not saying she’s happier to have the opportunity to play with friends and go on little adventures by herself. Neither of us are.
We’re both just relieved that she’s recovered.
Ahhhh to get chocked up in Starbucks while I write to you, dear reader. Something I’ve grown accustomed to.
So, I said supportively to my mom, “That’s so great that you had fun today.”
To which she said, “Well, I’m making it happen. I’m taking control.”
My God I love when marionettes say this. It’s just about my fav. But that’s a discussion for another time.
For now, “my” strings are being pulled to have this come from these keystrokes: I hate how hard it is to just exist sometimes. Hate. None of us asked to be here. But with that, my love for love
is infinitely more powerful. And I didn’t ask for that either, but I’m so goddamn grateful my cells and soul are arranged this way. And I’ve got more than enough to share with you. So please, in this moment, take a breath with me.
In exchange, all I ask from you is this – the next time you have a choice between kindness and selfishness, please choose kindness.
Because kindness is selflessness.
And selflessness is the operating system of this universe.
Like it or not.
She watched her father hang himself.
He did it right in front of her.
She was nine.
I just met her about an hour ago as we were walking into Starbucks at the same time and I asked her what the tattoo on the inside of her arm said.
“Your smile is always with me.”
Isn’t it amazing how we judge others?
I’m not talking about you or me of course. I mean the general we. The cunts out there in society.
We see a grown woman. With a few tats. Who’s been to rehab. Who’s struggling to get by. Who’s strangulated by old ghosts.
And what do we do?
We judge the living fuck out of her. For having issues. For not being “successful”.
How dare we…
Like we could have handled it any better.
As if we were responsible for the grand gift of the Brady Bunch childhoods we were given which enabled us to go to good schools, feel love, etc.
Luck of the draw my friends. Luck. Of. The. Draw.
Self righteous Republicans, aka false Christians (I say Republicans because a progressive person’s mind couldn’t even conceive of this – and I say false Christians because Jesus would crush these money changers at the temple doors), take all the credit for their successes and are lightning quick to blame others for their failures.
But they fail to realize, or better yet, refuse to realize, that we’re ALL still children. All still children, trying to make it day by day in these adult bodies. And just because they were dealt a full house from the get go, it sure as shit doesn’t mean they’re better card players – as they proclaim they are from their pulpits and political puppet shows.
So, with that, I’m damn grateful for the pair of deuces I’ve been given. They may have more than I do, and maybe more than you, but at least we’re kind. At least we know to love our neighbor as if they are us.
And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Thank you, dear reader, for trading your time to read these words.
Sending you good vibes.
Please receive them.
That’s the standout feeling at the conclusion of my twenty-five year search for enlightenment.
It nearly killed me.
And now that I’m here on the other side of the fence, I still find myself skimming through books on enlightenment I’d hope could save me back in the day. Looking for clues I may have missed through my old filter.
Just the same snake oil that didn’t help me the first time through.
Except for today.
Today I saw something significant. Something that’s clear as day to me now but made less-than-zero sense before. But it wasn’t written by the author. It’s a quote he used.
“How can a figment of the imagination have any effect on anything that is not itself a figment of imagination? Therefore any effect resulting from an act of ‘will’ subject to the ego-concept can only be as imaginary at itself.” – Wei Wu Wei
So what does this mean Gabe?
Whatever. Who cares. It doesn’t matter too much. If at all.
The only thing that matters is what happened after I read that quote.
An ant walked across the page.
It just happened.
Out of nowhere.
Like everything else.
Without our control.
P.S. And then, right there at Starbucks, a guy walked by me who totally needed to invest in some Mitchum. Stat. He smelled so ungodly awful, he could, as my uncle would say, knock a buzzard off of a shit wagon.
I am charged today with the task of adding a bit of beauty to our world.
Who appointed me with this mission?
And now that I have, I wish I actually had something beautiful to say.
I wish I could write a sentence out of thin air that drips with lusciousness or explodes violently like a volcano. A sentence someone would read and subsequently say to themselves, “Damn Jack, that was exquisite.”
But I can’t.
I got nothing.
However, as the universe would have, I’m now compelled to say this:
Earlier today I saw a Facebook post from a friend who said she was feeling alone. And attached to her words was an authentic, palpable, sullen vibe.
In response I said, “It’s awful to feel that way, but you’re not.”
How could she be alone when I’m taking a breath with her in that moment?
And, as for you dear reader, if you’re ever feeling alone, or sad, or anxious, or lost, or not enough, I hope you’re caused to remember to take breath with me.
A deep, rib expanding, blood pressure lowering, conscious breath.
Because, regardless of time and space, we are connected you and I. Whomever you may be.
Without exception. Without expectation.
You are not alone.
You are loved.
Regardless if you feel that way or not.
But I hope you do feel that way.
Sooner than later.
And with that, I’m here to assure you that you will.
There’s a young kid on a boat sailing over from Russia.
That kid ends up being my grandfather.
My dad’s dad.
And I sometimes imagine him knowing, right there on that voyage, that his son would inevitably die, awfully, from brain cancer.
And from there I think about what the dead would tell us. If they could talk. Knowing what they know now.
They’d probably say something like, “Lighten the fuck up.”
Continuing with, “Try not to get tangled in situations which make your heart heavy. And don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. They have their own problems you’re just not aware of. And, with that, they’re assholes anyway. Listen up living people, your only responsibility while alive, is to truly live. Because it all ends so fast. Please, for us, truly live. Thank you.”
Easier than it sounds?
Or maybe we need a good old fashioned global intervention of reprioritizing.
Maybe this blog post was written just for you.
“And how amazing was La La Land,” I asked my friend on the phone last night while we were going back and forth about movies.
To my surprise, she said with surprise, “You liked La La Land!?”
“No,” I said with confidence. “I loved it. It’s probably one of my favorites ever.”
“I just didn’t feel Emma Stone in that part,” she explained.
“I hear ya, but I wouldn’t have cared if she was played by a goddamn rhinoceros. It was the way he loved her. That’s all that mattered to me. I couldn’t breathe from him.”
And with that, right there, as I heard myself say those words, I figured out why I loved La La Land so much.
We think we miss being loved. But the truth is, we miss giving love more.
At least that’s the way it is me.
I didn’t think I was going to be fine.
But then I knew I was going to be fine when I walked in.
And thankfully I was fine.
Until I wasn’t.
So, I left.
My mom, her boyfriend (which is still so bizarre to say), my dad’s best friend and his wife met for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. I knew they were going to be there so I stopped in to say a quick hello to my dad’s best friend, Davie, because I haven’t seen him since the funeral.
My dad’s funeral (which is still so biblically bizarre to say).
After pretending to be their waiter, I exchanged handshakes with the men and kisses on cheeks with the women.
We chatted innocuously for a bit before Davie said to me, “He’s the Harold I knew growing up. He looks exactly like him as a kid.”
He was referring to a photo my mom showed him of one of her grandsons (my nephew).
Harold is/was my dad’s name. And hearing his best friend since second grade say it, an atomic chain reaction of emotion spread through my soul like a neutron bomb.
I felt my dad behind Davie’s eyes
Hence, I had to get the fuck out of there before I started crying. There was no reason to add heaviness to their lighthearted dinner.
I reached over the table and kissed him on the cheek. He put his hand lovingly behind my head, as my dad would have, and kissed my cheek in return.
I never cried, even once I made outside to the safety of the parking lot, but I’m on the verge right now as I write this
Such is life. Such is death.
(Wait, does this piece just end curtly right here? With no tie-up or catharsis? C’mon man, what else would you like me to say? Of course I could easily say that you should make sure to love your loved ones while you still can. But that, like everything else, will either happen or it won’t. And with that, all I want you to know are these three things: 1. I appreciate you taking the time to read these words. Truly appreciate it. 2. I love you, whoever the hell you are. For real.
3. The reality we think is real, isn’t. So, take everything with a grain of salt. But you’ll only do that if you’re caused to. Noodle baked yet? It doesn’t matter. Just know that I love you. Yes, you, you dumb bastard. The person reading these words right now).
Have you seen La La Land yet?
If you haven’t, let me tell you, pay no mind to anything you’ve heard.
It isn’t good.
It isn’t bad.
An exquisite flow of beauty in celluloid form.
It’s so lovely, and so soulful, I would bet it single handedly balances out the ugliness casting a dark shadow on our lives lately.
Without it, this planet of ours would probably careen off course and spin helplessly into the cold cosmos.
And it’s impossible, at least for someone like me, not to be self reflective while witnessing it unfold like flowers in bloom on screen.
Here’s the thing: I know one day my life in this form will end. And if it’s looked back upon by others, my accomplishments may not amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
But do not be deceived.
For I have loved.
Loved limitlessly, without conditions.
And I have stood in awe of love. Time and time again.
It’s truly the only thing that matters.
Fuck all who say otherwise.