Last night I saw and heard fireworks. I could see the bursting display over the skyline of Ft. Lauderdale. Surely the show had to be in celebration of International Anti-Fascist Day!
Last night I saw and heard fireworks. I could see the bursting display over the skyline of Ft. Lauderdale. Surely the show had to be in celebration of International Anti-Fascist Day!
There were a significant number of conversations with my father that most people would agree usually occurs between father and son when the son reaches 20 or so. They are the first man-to-man conversations where sire and offspring bond and where the proud papa gets to transfer his “wisdom” to his son(s), you know – man stuff.
I began these conversations, and the relationship that accompanies them much later; in my late 30’s. It gave me and interesting perspective on parenting and living with other people on a planet and being a man. This one, by far, is my favorite of all time.
I was maybe 40 or 41 years old and my Dad was visiting my house. Suddenly he says to me: “Let me see your wallet, son. Please.” I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for that question. I asked him why he wanted to see my wallet, to which he replied: “If I don’t see your wallet, I won’t be able to share a particular thought with you that might be useful.” So I handed him my wallet. He looked into all of the slots and pockets or whatever they are called until he was satisfied and then gave me my wallet back without saying anything at all. He then took out his wallet; a brown bi-fold leather wallet; simple, classic and practical. He opened it wide to expose the two pockets that one accessed basically from the inside middle of the wallet. A common place for business cards and such that one considers “wallet-worthy” but don’t require quick access. He opened up one of those pockets and began to pull out a folded piece of paper, or at least that’s what I thought I was seeing. Suddenly the gesture became familiar: I’d seen him do this before; the folded piece of paper was money, usually a $100.00 bill. He pulled out the bill and unfolded it, indeed it was a nice crisp $100.00 bill. Then he looked at me and his eyes became those of a mischievous little boy and he smiled his irresistible smile – whatever was coming next was going to be, if anything, fun.
Even though we were alone, he looked to his left and then to his right and lowering his voice a bit, said to me:
“Now listen up Son, and listen well. This is what’s called “mad money” you should always keep a C-note in your wallet for mad money. It’s important. Do not forget this, okay?
I simply had to ask, so I did, I said: “What for, pop?” He grinned and let out a slightly sinister giggle as he looked at me and put a hand on my shoulder right before answering my question. He winked at me and said: “Because;… you never know!” and skipped out of the room, giggling all the way out the front door.”
As usual, pop was right. I carried my “mad-money”, as my father taught me until we destroyed the function and concept of money, but during the years that I did, on more than one occasion, it saved my ass, got me out of a mess or was that which allowed me to ask the gorgeous blonde sitting on a buddy’s couch looking bored after everyone else lost their pocket money playing poker if she wanted to have dinner, or drinks. Dad always said: “Never use mad money for anything that you should cover out of your pocket. It will let you know when to pull it out of your wallet. It most certainly did.
Mad money. I would have never, ever calculated the enormous importance of that concept in my life if my father had not passed it down. It may be one of the most useful tools I’ve ever had, because: you never know!
That’s my pop
“This is the first of a series of posts with the same title: “Conversations with my father”. I like the multi-function use of the title: It’s the title and the content. Each post’s title will have the subject of that particular conversation with my father at the end of the title. Enjoy!”
This was the last complete, coherent and contiguous conversation I had with my father; it was not that long ago.
While visiting one Sunday, my father approached me and asked if I could spare him a minute or two. My father was always the living example of courtesy and chivalry. We sat in my study and he said;
“Son, I’ve come to realize and accept that you are a fully grown adult and have earned the right to be called a man. That means that my job, the one I accepted as your father is complete and I am satisfied with the job I’ve done. Your job; the one you accepted, whether you like it not, is different, but that’s your road, not mine. I’m just letting you know that you can start yours whenever you like, you’re ready.”
This was not not a typical conversation to have with my father and he was not one to say something like this as a prank, so I did what I usually did with anything my father told me: I took it at face value and gave it due consideration. Our conversations were not humorless, however; I took a moment to comment on how timely his announcement of my manhood was, after all, I was only 50. We laughed for a moment and then I knew that he expected a reply from me.
I began to do some furious math in order to reply properly; there was not a single moment during his life that passed without my wanting to make him proud of me. After considering his statement as carefully as I could, I had a reply for him; I said;
“You know, pop, that’s a very important issue for me. I know I have a job to do. I’m not scared and I’m confident that I am well prepared for whatever it may be, but it is somewhat unsettling at times to not know what is expected of me.”
My father jumped right back into the conversation with a combination of wisdom and mischief in those hauntingly blue eyes of his. He sat upright and said:
“Excuse me. What did you just say? Did you say you didn’t know what is expected of you? That isn’t even a coherent sentence in English – and you’re supposed to be the smart one! There cannot be any expectation of any person without another person to hold that expectation; it’s a strictly human concept. Oh, shit! Now I’m beginning to talk like you! He giggled and continued. How can you tell me that you don’t know what is expected of you without knowing or mentioning WHO is the owner of that expectation? Only people can have expectations of other people, so who were you referring to when you said you didn’t know what was expected of you, perhaps Society? Society isn’t a person, it can’t have expectations of you or anyone else, but we can choose to believe it can and if you do; you’re fucked. So, Mr. Smarty pants, would you like to try that again?
I said, quickly: “Wow, Pop, that’s good” Because it was. It left me pondering (a dangerous thing to do.)
After a few minutes, I turned to face my father, who was sitting patiently, immensely enjoying the opportunity to watch me squirm and said. You are, of course, right Pop. I have to re-do all the math on that. Thanks, Pop, if you hadn’t brought the point up, I could have easily screwed the pooch when the time came! Then I had a thought a with it the hope of redeeming myself from the hole I had so easily fallen into during that conversation. Almost immediately, I said:
“Hey, pop, may I ask you something, since we’re here and already talking?”
–“Of course!” He shot back.
I looked him square in the eyes, which was not an easy thing to do with him, and asked him:
“Indeed, you have completed your job and have declared as much, but you are still my father, so I ask you; Father; what do you expect of me, Sir?”
I thought I had him for sure, but then I saw his mischievous grin begin to form and he sat back in his chair, crossed his legs, put his hands on his lap and very calmly and very matter-of-factually answered:
“Me? I expect for you to change the world.”
What else can be said and what else can any man hope to know beyond what his father expects of him.
That’s my Pop.
Today is my birthday and I turn fifty-two.
So what does that mean, for me or for you?
There’s not much about age that the math can provide,
Save the count of our years and its sting on our pride.
Here’s a little math trick on which you can chew,
‘Bout the momentous occasion of turning fifty-two.
The math is sound, and it is also quite true,
That at some point in time this math will apply to you.
Today is my birthday, and I turn fifty-two,
So what does that mean for me or for you?
Not much save that regardless of who you might be or what you may do,
The math at this point probably yields that I’m the older of the two.
In everyone’s life we arrive at a place,
Where we can no longer prevent wrinkles on our face.
We can no longer assume that with everyone we meet,
We are always the pup, the youngster on the street.
52 is the point where the odds shift the norm.
And they accomplish this with such curious form.
If we pay attention and listened while still being weaned,
At this point we’d savor the knowledge we’ve gleaned.
And if we’ve become wise and learned how to love,
We can share what we’ve learned and what comes forth thereof.
My twenties ran by, or rather they flew.
My thirties fit me like a comfortable shoe.
My forties made me ask if I’d learned what I thought I knew,
So, I leave you with this: good advice – served up in a tasty word brew:
Today is my birthday and I turned fifty-two.
So what does that mean for me or for you?
I choose to share what I’ve learned and hope that it’s true,
That you’ll do the same, when it’s your turn to be the older of the two.
We are all we have.
We can do better.
I continuously end up utterly perplexed every time I contemplate or think on the fact that at some point in time, we humans found ourselves with an entire planet as a blank slate, incomparably diverse and powerful minds as tools and thousands of years to do something with what we had; and the best we were able to do was turn the world into a scary place; a very scary place. The scariest part is that it appears we actually believe it is a scary place and therefore we live our entire lives – scared.
Without having to exercise any judgment at all, this is, at the very least, an incalculable waste – of so many things..
I may not be able to undo this by myself, but I can choose to not live in fear, so I did and I don’t live in fear. It’s not impossible and in fact, I can say it’s not even very difficult to do, all one has to do is to realize that all the scary stuff is make belief and props – just like in the movies, in fact, the “world” isn’t a scary place at all, we are simply told that it is, over and over again throughout our entire lives and we believe it; because we also believe that everything we are told or read is true.
Don’t live in fear, nothing in the human experience requires that anyone to do so; there’s nothing to be scared of except believing that we must be scared of everything we are told be scared of. There is no math I can write to express this or try to solve it; it is an incalculable thing. Why? Because the world that we think we live in not real and I don’t mean “not real” as in the Matrix movies, but not real in that what we know as our “world” and the inhuman quality of life that these scary, make-believe constructs impose on us and which we authorize by believing them, are NOT an external physical reality with its own will and judgment that imposes itself on us – it’s an imaginary construct and therefore can’t be measured or have a mathematical value assigned so as to compare any of it to the rest of the universe. Why? Because it’s not real. It is overly dramatic and poorly conceived horror story thought up by a few people thousands of years ago to try to get everyone else (who were indisputably believed to be idiots) to believe that certain things were real and scary (especially things that gave some people total authority to dictate what was real) so they could in turn, impose their will on everyone and anyone who believed the story they were told – and everyone believed, all of it; probably because the “few people” who came up with the story were our first leaders; Kings, Emperors, Chiefs, Elders, Lords, Noblemen and their various posses, so who was going to argue? This is how a small handful of us were able to define the “world” thousands of years ago and take control over the every other person living in it and how they continue to control 7 billion of us in 2013 (they still believe everyone is an idiot). In the end; thousands of years ago, before shit and shinola and when no one knew nothing about anything because everything was new, a few of us simply made up all the scary things that make us afraid and subsequently obedient, and we chose to believe them; we still continue to believe it – all of it. It is possible that we will continue to believe it, until we choose to stop, to stop believing the setup story of what amounts to a gigantic con, the biggest one and quite possibly the only one, ever. The “world”, “society”, “civilization” the concept of “sovereignty” and a few other scripted bits of nonsense are not real, they are all simply scary monsters that feed an idea which in turns allows for all humans to believe that us and them actually exists, among other things. They are the grift in the con that goes by the name of human civilization throughout history and our acceptance of all of this as “real” has allowed for everything in human history to be rigged so that the con always favors those “few” who believe they run things, generation after generation. Here’s the perplexing part; those few who have been the authors and beneficiaries of this macabre fraud are people, just like the rest of us, and that means that believe all of this shit too and live in fear just like the rest of us; they are just scared of different make believe monsters and scary things, one that supposedly have class and dress properly.
The only math I’ve ever been able to even scribble regarding this entire incalculable hallucination is that if you add all of it up, the result is zero (0). This means the when you attempt to find any value at all in the rules of the world, civilization and the human condition and the history that they imposed on humanity; there is none in the end. They do nothing and produce nothing, in terms of physics and the real physical universe – in other words it (the whole of human history) has all been for nothing.
Utterly perplexing and mind-boggling.
We can do better.
Every time a thought is left unspoken by the person who thought it, it withers and dies for not having been shared and an empty space is all that remains in all the space between all of us; space preferably full with the stuff of human communication.
Every time the inspiration to act is ignored or subdued, only inaction remains. Nothing happens at all and this leaves an empty space in all of space between all of us that could be ripe with actions; human actions, our actions; our choices.
The amount of empty space between all of us is piling up; quickly and it’s not a very good idea to have a lot of empty space, because empty space can be filled up with anything at all by anyone at all, even a hateful thought, a greedy and selfless act or generally inhuman behavior – and that is exactly what is happening.
Think, if you do, you will produce. Act; do so with love and you will build up our humanity. Speak and do, with your entire mind and all your heart. Leave no empty space in your path, the empty spaces we leave are so very tempting for selfish thoughts. We are not each other’s enemies, we are all we have. Let us be the authors and builders of our future and not the cause of not having one. Have the strength and the desire to love; do you have any of either left? You do.
We can do better.
It appears that someone else has give “it” a name and assigned it a date. It is being called the “Fiscal Cliff” and apparently we are supposed to topple over it on January 1, 2013. Interesting. At least this gives some indication that there is a speck of sanity and an atom of awareness left in the human condition. It’s not a fiscal cliff, however, if we were to apply that metaphor to the actual world, we went over that cliff in 2008. After filtering out all of the “required modifications” to the language used, what is being called the “fiscal cliff” may very well be the bottom of the precipice that we have already fallen from (it is still incalculable to determine how far we will fall) and January 1, 2013 may be a probabilistic calculation as when we might hit that bottom.
It is simply insane that, at this stage of the process, all that we are capable of is to acknowledge the inevitable proximity of an unthinkable catastrophe and attempt to figure out when it will occur. All that is missing is to take bets and give odds as to the actual date for it to technically be lunacy.
It is a shame; and to think that preventing it from even occurring is so simple. All that we have to do is to realize that there is no spoon, because there isn’t.
I can’t let myself forget, even for an instant, that giving up is simply not allowed.
Next to the Shinola rule, the next most important rule of human life that one can never afford to forget is the banana peel rule. The banana peel is always there, right where you will know it is. That’s right, we know it’s there, in fact, if you don’t already know about the banana peel, then I’m officially informing you of the existence and the location of the banana peel.
So, what the heck is the banana peel? As is the case with most of the rules of human life, it’s a metaphor for something very important. The banana peel is a catastrophic calamity that befalls a person, just before they win. Or hit the home run. Or finish the big project. Or close the big deal. Or finish the formula that will get you the Nobel Prize. Or finally walking up to the girl that you can’t get out of your head and asking her out. Anything at all that is considered to be a human triumph or victory or accomplishment; big or small, has a banana peel.
This is how it goes. Among the plethora of qualities that abound in a human being, one of the most cantankerous is our incessant like of not using the tools that we have and that are wonderfully effective and powerful and useful in the course of living a human life. In particular, I’m referring about what may be the #1 tool we have, and if it’s not #1, it’s definitely top three. I’m referring to our ability to think; I’m not just talking about the human brain, mind you. A human brain is there regardless of what you do with it but it won’t think unless we will it to, and we won’t will it to until we have no other choice or at the very least if he or she is super hot and irresistible. As long as most people can find a shortcut, a cheat sheet, an advantage, a secret passage, an enchanted potion or even a magic pill that will allow for them to not have to think anything through, they will usually take it, regardless of the risk and only seeing the possibilities if they could actually get away with winning something, or solving a problem, or working to finish something without actually having to think or do anything, if possible. Here’s the math:
Imagine yourself running a race. A competitive foot race, let’s say a thousand meter race. The race itself could represent anything; a job, an idea, a challenge, a problem, life. The starter pistol goes off and you fly into the lead, running like no one has ever run. You are a human gazelle and suddenly you have a one, two, three, five and finally a ten-man lead over the rest of the competition. You are so far ahead that the crowd is in frenzy and your head swims with the thought of the adoration, adulation, fame and fortune that will be heaped upon your feet when you are named as the winner. Suddenly, there it is. You can see it; the finish line. The long tape stretched across the track receives only one of the competitors in its warm embrace. It’s so close that you can smell it and you believe you can actually feel its proximity. You risk a quick look back and the guy who will end up in second place is so far behind you that it is ridiculous. You look at the finish line again and you could swear it was just a few inches away and then at that moment, is when we screw the pooch. That emotion, because it is an emotion, that some call sloth, others call laziness, and a few others even call human nature; kicks in and sends a signal to your conscious rational cognitive thinking mechanism and tells you that you already won. That’s it, nobody can catch you now. You are the king, the winner, numero uno, the top man – and immediately after you believe it, a mere two feet from the finish tape, you stop trying. You figure that the inertia alone will carry you across the finish line well before anyone else catches up and you BELIEVE that you are unstoppable and that certain victory is yours. So you stop thinking and stop paying attention and stop running the race and you start to celebrate! Right there, at that moment; 14 inches before hitting the tape and actually winning, that’s when you slip on the banana peel lying on the track – because you weren’t paying attention – and fall down and bust your ass. You fall so hard that you can’t get up. You may even have a fracture of the hip or the coccyx. You agonize in pain but you can’t get up because your busted your ass when you feel. You try to crawl and begin to sob, thinking you can drag your way across the finish line before anyone else gets near, but you are in too much pain. A slip and bust-your-ass fall on a banana peel during a full-on sprint at the end of a 1000 meter race will bust your ass for real. Suddenly, one, then two, then all of the other runners cross the finish line. The guy that you were laughing at only minutes before because he was going to end up in second place (and everyone knows that nobody remembers who came in second at anything) WON, and the adoration, adulation, triumph and celebrity that were supposed to be yours are taken away just like that.
As you are being carried away in a stretcher to an ambulance, never having actually crossed the finish line at all, you scream, in a fit or pure anger at the sky and complain to whoever it is that you pray to. You complain and say “It’s not fair!” Not fair? What is fair? As the saying goes; it’s not over ‘till it’s over or it’s not over ‘till the fat lady sings, the moral is the same. There’s no excuse for taking your eye off the ball while it’s in play or for slacking off because you believe it’s a “sure thing”. The moment that you do, I promise you; that banana peel will be there, waiting for you. What a person starts, they must finish. Mediocrity is not a human genetic trait. So now you know and because you know, you do not have to slip on the banana peel. Life is a 24 hour a day, 7 day per week job. Nobody gets time off from life, nobody gets a break. The interesting thing is that we should never need to feel like we do. None of us should ever forget about the banana peel, one day our very lives may depend on paying attention to what we’re doing, and if you don’t and then you slip and bust your ass; you know what’s next: I told you so!
We can do better and remember; step OVER the banana peel when you see it.
It is about time that we finally face this question, isn’t it? Shit and fan have already collided and the only unknown at this point is whether or not the splatter which covers everything will leave even the tiniest space to squeeze through or to make camp in. The few who try to speak about the issue are exactly that: too few and perhaps they have lost faith in the rest of us to do anything at all, even though they can clearly see what is happening and they are trying to do the right thing by following the natural, human instinct to DO something .
Our generation stands of the brink of the next, the biggest and very possibly the most important change in the human condition, ever. This is the first time in our collective history where all of us know where all of us are and how to communicate with any one of us. In spite of the bitter taste in our mouths which is the by-product of what we have done to ourselves, we are also waking up to something totally new and it is good and sweet. We all carry with us this new sense of us – the real us: all 6.8 billion of us give or take, not the very old and tired version of “us” based on political boundaries. If a sentence, an idea or even thinking includes an “us’ and a “them”, then that isn’t the real “us” because there is no “them”. We are all we have and we have such an incredible opportunity to restructure what we do and what we think we know into something that works, if we really want to. It is incomprehensible to look out upon our world and see almost everyone doing NOTHING about the only thing that really matters; the tiny speck of time that we are here, alive and human. The machinery that runs the day-to-day life of humanity fell apart completely and yet we don’t even ponder the significance of the moment. We simply watch everything that we think we know crumble around us and do what? Wait to see what happens? Hope that someone will figure out a way to fix the world that we created and which shatters our very humanity but which we refuse to let go of? There are enormous pockets of people everywhere who are angry, or terrified, or depressed or just plain lost, and not a one of us can spark a conversation which contemplates something different? Is it because what we are angry about is that “I never got my turn to enjoy money and success?” Is the thought that we might actually become inspired to do something new which would do away with money as we know it what terrifies us? Could it be that what we are depressed about is the harsh reality that nothing we’ve ever come up with to run our world has ever worked and even though we know better we can’t help but to covet money, because it’s all we know? Finally, are we lost because we don’t know how to let go of our addiction to the concept of money and wealth and what it allows for us to do: purchase other people’s envy and impose our will on those around us. Is that it? It this the best we got? Are we going to let everything that we are and have been and might possibly be, simply fade away into nothingness? Have we become that weak and lazy and complacent and full of ourselves and so idiotic? Have we become a world of pussies? If that’s what we want, that’s what we’ll get, unless we choose something different.
I think that we can do better and I REALLY WANT for us to have that chance. That’s a start.
So what do you really want?