Hand Me the Joystick, Please?

It is the way of things for just about everything to almost constantly be outside of the sphere of my personal influence. All I mean by that eyeful is this: I’m not in control of much. What I do with my life doesn’t have that large an effect on anything other than my immediate surroundings.

You would think I’d be freaking a bit over that revelation, but…I’m not.

There is just so much going on in our great big little world! On the grand scale we have governments battling each other for slivers of power across continents, and corporations elbow-deep in the muck (because, you know, corporations are people too) to scrape every penny possible into their coffers, without ever a wink to the people who form the base that they so casually trample. The very Earth we inhabit is deteriorating as we watch in awe and horror, with far too few making the necessary efforts to repair what we as a species have destroyed terrifically in our tunnel-visioned hurry to get to the next big thing.

Barely a step down, we have class disparity—super rich versus super poor, with hardly a person standing in the middle anymore to provide balance. The have-nots are grasping at the hull of the lifeboat as the haves knock their hands away with poles and sneers of distaste, all the while pushing the have-nots deep into the crushing black depths from which there is no hope of rescue.

Racism, homophobia, gender rights issues, slavery, anti-feminism, suppression of personal freedoms, rape culture, gun-worship, religious zealotry, child abuse, corruption in our governance at all levels, the battle between those who fear changes in the world and those who push for change; each is a bloody blow to the battered body of our basic human rights. Add to that a culture that celebrates ignorance while deprecating open-mindedness, school systems that strive toward mediocrity and general apathy, and it is no wonder that people lose their minds over the inability to control their lives. It is a terrifying prospect when viewed from that perspective.

Thankfully, I don’t share that perspective.

Thankfully, circumstances in my life along with my own particular brand of resilience have brought me to a place within myself that too few are able to find. I have learned to observe and accept the chaos that surrounds me. I see things through clear eyes, without the shade of the hovering monsters that we call ‘the world’ in my periphery. Don’t get me wrong, I care very much about oh so many things that are going on outside of my plastic bubble. However, I know that the little things I do don’t change the world. They only change my world.

I live a small life. A simple life. I wake, parent, feed, read, herd, teach, write, sleep…those are the basic building blocks of my day. I have small worries. What to cook, who has stirred the naughty pot, which child is not following directions, how to pay the bills, what stories to write. I’m content to live my small, simple life.

My small, simple life doesn’t exempt me from doing little important things that will ripple and spread and hopefully bring positive change to the small, simple lives of others.

I’m going to share a quote here with the caveat that I have no desire to incite any kind of political hogwash with this statement. The words simply resonate with me and illustrate my point well.

“Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.” ― Robert F. Kennedy

In the ways I know for certain that I’m able, I exert control over my sphere of influence. I strive to combat the ugliness of the world at large by instilling kindness and respect for all in my children. I hope to bring wonder and joy to people with the words I write in my fiction (well, because wizards and tree pirates, I mean, come on!). I make a point to encourage those I care about to express themselves openly and positively, and with much humor. I attempt to interact with everyone I know in an affectionate, charitable way that ennobles everyone.

If you haven’t yet gotten the impression that I’m a bit unconventional, let me break it to you easily here; I am. That grand Baz Luhrmann flick that goes on and on about Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Love? Oh yeah, I’m all about that stuff. I kinda like the music a ton, too.

On that note, please take the time to watch this video. I’m not advertising for it, but I do think it is worth your time. And don’t hesitate to drop a comment if you have any input.


Failing Hard

I have to admit, I’m not very good at life.

Here is my disclaimer: I’m not depressed. I’m not despondent. I’m not clinging to my last hope. I’m not writing this as a cry for help, or to reach out for the sympathy of friends or strangers. That’s not what I’m on about at all.

Now that we’re comfortably disclaimed, let me continue my thought. As I stated, I’m not very good at ‘life’. In fact, I fail pretty spectacularly at it.

By ‘life’, I mean the particular skill set people are required to have in the modern world in order to be ‘successful’. According to everything we’re taught from birth, we have to struggle and compete to earn our place in the world in order to become productive members of society. As children, we’re required to pass the tests and get the grades and play the sports so we ‘turn out well’.

Before we get a chance to grasp the barest of possibilities that the world has for us, we are told we need to choose what it is that we will be tied to for the rest of our lives. “Pick a career path,” we’re told at the age of 14, as if we really have any idea what we want to do. Sure, each of us has interests and aptitudes from an early age. But how, at the impressionable age of 14, or 17, or 22, are we to really have enough experience to make such important decisions? Why is it necessary?

In order to have ‘success’, the hurdles must be jumped. School, job, relationship, status. Money. Influence. Fancy car, fancy house, fancy friends, fancy lifestyle. Wear the right clothes, get the right connections, have the right body. There is always something lacking, everything has to be bigger, better, more.

But what about those of us who don’t follow that appointed path?

I personally have little use for money. Don’t mistake me, I understand the necessity of it in our society, and its purpose as a medium of exchange for things which are indispensable for survival, but it has never been a motivating factor for me. I enjoy my luxuries as much as the next person, but remove them from me, and I get by just fine. In this, I fail at life. I’m supposed to be consumed by the desire for money.

As a child, I had a vague idea of what I may possibly want from my life. As an adult, I have a vague idea of what I may want from my life. I don’t know if I ever will know. For this reason, I frequently move from job to job, sometimes discovering talents untapped, sometimes finding that my personal ethics prevent me from required duties even if I am good at what I’m being asked to do. In this, I fail at life. I’m supposed to have a clear end goal toward which I constantly strive and without which I feel empty and unfulfilled.

I am short, and nothing will ever change that. I’m also fat, and I’m healthy. I’m comfortable being fat. I’ve been skinny, I don’t like how I feel when I’m that way. I often dress unconventionally, and I wear my hair and makeup in any way I desire to. I am unapologetic about how I express who I am. In this, I fail at life. I’m supposed to be wracked with low self-esteem and guilt, and struggle to fit into a false societal norm.

I’m not a crusader, nor am I particularly political. I do want animal cruelty to end. I do want slavery to be a non-issue. I do want people who need jobs to have them. I do want equal rights for all people everywhere. I do want a world in which I can walk proudly as a polyamorous bisexual atheistical-agnostic without anyone getting their panties in a twist. But I know I’m not the one who will picket for these things, because I know that I personally have no power to affect change on my own. In this, I fail at life. I’m supposed to champion my causes loudly before the whole world, driven into a frenzy of ideals-bashing when confronted with anyone who does not share my leftward leanings.

I teach my sons to show respect in order to receive respect. I teach them that they don’t need to know everything to be worthy of my love. I accept their quirks and foibles. I refuse to discipline them for independent thought, failing, and acting according to their conscience. I hold them when they need to cry, laugh with them when they are filled with joy, and I refuse to minimize their impact on others and make them feel insignificant. In this, I fail at life. I’m supposed to push my children to be perfect, unquestioning automatons who follow all the rules and never step a foot outside the standardized box that they are perpetually being crammed into.

I’m just not good at all these things I’m supposed to be. Yet I don’t mind it at all.

I maintain a few Bohemian mindsets as I go day to day, and I make it through the good times and bad with my spirit unbroken by the cruelty of this world because I hold to them.

First, be kind. Everyone deserves kindness. Everyone, without exception. The Dalai Lama speaks mountains of wisdom, but the nugget I cling to most is “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies. My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness.”

Second, don’t judge. Nobody is faultless. Everyone lies, everyone cheats, everyone makes big and little mistakes. None of us is qualified to lay judgment on another, because we don’t live their life. I don’t know your truth, you don’t know mine. Psychologist Wayne Dyer puts it well: “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.

Third, seek out The Awesome. Beauty abounds all around us, but often we miss it because we’re just struggling through trying to live the way society has arbitrarily decided we must. There are so many, many awesome things to be found, and it doesn’t take deep searching. We just need to keep our eyes wide and observe. Confucius says “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

Finally, be love. Love isn’t only a feeling, it is an expression of our humanity one toward another. Give it fully, without reserve. Give it to those you find deserving and those you find undeserving. It will never lessen you to share wholeheartedly, because loving is not about others, it is about you. “When I’m being love, I don’t get drained, and I don’t need people to behave a certain way in order to feel cared for or to share my magnificence with them. They’re automatically getting my love as a result of me being my true self.” – Anita Moorjani

I know, I got rather quoty. But that’s ok.

I may hold a false belief, but I believe it nonetheless; mine is the better way. I am immeasurably grateful to be so bad at life.