Lessons of Birthday's Past

It's my effing birthday weekend, so let me lay down some more old cranky man wisdom on you.


Our justice system is cracked and misused.  Do we scrap the whole thing as a failed attempt to find a fair and impartial approach to regulating society or do we endeavor to fix the parts and people who aren't working?

We have slowly damaged our planet's ability to sustain human life and our way of life continues that damage.  Do we throw up our hands, party our asses off until there is no more air to breathe and await the apocalypse or do the best we can to try and reverse the pernicious process?

Our elected officials have fucked things up in so many ways it has become hard to count.  Do we give up on representative democracy altogether or actual use the tool we have been given and make this voting thing work?

If things are broken in the world, with no hope of repair then scrapping it altogether is the way to go. Unfortunately, aside from completely abdicating from society like the Uni-Bomber or Tom Hanks in “Castaway,” fixing the disrepair - white supremacy, income inequity, climate crisis, food scarcity, misogyny, warmongering, tribalism - becomes a more feasible solution.

Sure, both Tyler Durden and Tristan Tzara can school us in the meaninglessness of so much of human interaction and the masscult constructs of commercialism, consumerism, and capitalism but their approach is a bit like having a misbehaving child and just killing him instead of teaching him. Gets rid of the problem but hardly solves it.

Solving problems is easier said than done. Those who shirk the work prefer to do things the easy way but since when has the easy way ever produced the big wins?


I’ve been saying the following phrase for the better part of the last decade:

“We are all snowflakes convinced of our idiosyncratic individuality, reveling in our own uniqueness and special destiny but, in the end, we’re all just made of fucking snow.”

Only recently has this statement become my way of looking at life.

We are white, black, brown, male, female, trans, Liberal, Conservative, monolingual, bilingual, trilingual, part of the majority, part of a minority and yet:

  • we all know what hunger feels like.
  • we all know what betrayal feels like.
  • we all understand what being left out feels like.
  • we all know love, hate, sorrow, joy.

Underneath the surface of ourselves, we are all exactly the same.  This is not to say I choose to see the world without color or sexuality or even ideology.  I like the whole box of crayons and all the messy differences that actually do make each person either a joy or a pain in the ass to be around.  I just have come to understand that while there is nothing wrong about differences, there is nothing right about letting those differences define us.

I was recently asked in an interview “What makes a great story” and my answer was Common Universality. Sure, there are wonderful stories that speak to the specific cultures we come from and the hardships we face, the heroic deeds we feel it is our due to claim and the dumb things we’ve done for love or money but the stories that speak to everyone carry the most weight. The stories that knuckle down and capture the essence of what it is to be human - flawed, hypocritical, altruistic, amazingly human - are the ones we wear. If a teller can find that thing within themselves that resonates with All People, the story will be great.

It is far less likely that people are against you rather than simply being for themselves.

 The simple and easy way to see the world is Us vs Them, Everyone Else vs Me.  The common way to view the world is through the lens of yourself.  This Movie is About YOU.  YOU are the star and everyone in the film is motivated to do the things they do and say the things they say based on their specific relationship to you.  Reality is pretty much the exact opposite.  Most people (sin MOST people) barely know you exist.  Most people couldn't care less about your existence.  And when that cabbie cuts you off in traffic, it is HIGHLY likely that it has nothing at all to do with you personally.

ComCast treats you badly?  Not about you personally.
The bank fucks up your account?  Not personal.
The barrista who makes a mistake on your soy latte cappuccino with caramel swirls and a splash of privilege didn't make the mistake on purpose.
You got towed and booted?  Not because you are someone the Department of Motor Vehicles gives a shit about.  Because you can't park well.

Most people you encounter are not doing anything against you any more than that red light is taking so long to personally vex you or the snow covered your car to make you late for work.  As hard as it is to come to grips with, each one of us is pretty insignificant but there is power in that lack of over-reaching importance so relax.  And there is wisdom in recognizing that insignificance.

To Find the Right Answer You Have to Ask the Right Question

Crossing Over Into the Second Half Century