Refuse to be angry

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All these people working hard to make us angry and outraged and offended – it all just makes me, well, angry.

But when I feel that “mad” boiling up in my gut, I realize I’ve fallen into the trap. Continue reading

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For Emily, because we found her

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When Emily Dickinson died, they found a treasure trove of poetry that has endured for a very long time. In her lifetime only a handful of those poems had seen the light of day. She was afraid or otherwise unwilling to share them with others.

What are you keeping to yourself? How do you know you don’t have the power to touch millions of hearts?

You never know until you let the sun shine on your soul and share what’s in there.

Maybe you won’t change the world. But maybe you will.

Give it a try.

Weary of fear? Just stop

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Every message — OK, maybe not EVERY message – most messages, a vast majority, seem to be steeped in fear nowadays.

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep people afraid and clamoring to be rescued, after all, as H.L. Mencken succinctly put it.

But it’s not just politics. Most headlines, most ads, most politics begins with something scary.

“You’re scared? Me, too. That’s why I turned to (insert bogus solution here).”

It seems fear sells everything, so the key to success is to scare everyone.

What if we refused to let the fear take us? What if we sought our own solutions rather than accept the ones offered by the fear mongers?

“How do you propose to do that?” you say. But that’s the point: You’re so accustomed to the pattern – propose the scary problem, then sell a solution – that you missed the point. It is not important how I propose to do that. How do YOU propose to move past your fear?

Swallow your fear and find your own solution. You know what to do; you’ve just been snared in the fear trap so long you feel you can’t take action. Take a step, then another, and see where it leads you. Or rather, see where you lead yourself.

Why I choose optimism

The other day I posted the preface to the revised and expanded edition of my book Refuse to be Afraid, which begins:

“As this 2016 edition of Refuse to be Afraid is prepared, the major U.S. political parties have put up the two worst choices of my lifetime. To pick either one is to doom the United States government to four years of scary leadership, their ideas antithetical to the American standard of individual freedom and equality before the law.”

An old friend offered this comment: “I thought you were the eternal optimist. These words clearly convey a message of good old pessimism.”

Oh, perhaps those words are pessimistic, but they are an introduction to an introduction, and I chose the words carefully. Continue reading

It is still your life to live

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I finished another journal today. Tomorrow morning I’ll be reaching for another bound book of blank pages waiting to be filled with fragments of thought and bursts of creativity.

I got curious as to how the last journal ended, so I grabbed it off the shelf and remembered that I used the last page and a half to write a new preface for my book Refuse to be Afraid, which I was re-releasing last summer.

Much has changed since I finished that last journal. But I still believe this with all my heart and soul: Continue reading

I still choose whimsy

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I am surprised to discover it has been five years since I released my brief manifesto “I choose whimsy,” which I reproduce in its entirety here:

I see and hear the cranky and dyspeptic political tones, philosophical arguments dressed up as a battle between good and evil, and I have seen and heard enough.

“There ain’t no good guys, there ain’t no bad guys, there’s only you and me and we just disagree,” the poet sang.

And yet the demagogues behind the curtains conjure images of battlegrounds. We don’t just disagree; you are the embodiment of evil walking on Earth. If your kind keeps/retains power, then the rest of us die.

Hogwash. I say again, hogwash. Pay no attention to the demagogues behind the curtains.

My freedom is not dependent upon someone holding or being ejected from office, and neither is yours. Human beings are born to freedom, not granted liberty by benevolent rulers. What part of “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights” is so hard to understand?

We have a choice to stew in our own bile – or in bile provided for us by willing political toadies – or to live our lives freely, joyfully and in celebration.

You may follow the path to fear and loathing and the infestation of imaginary hobgoblins. I choose whimsy.

A half a decade since I penned those words, choosing whimsy is more of a revolutionary act than ever. If the political conversation was cranky and dyspeptic in 2012, Lord knows it is more so by a hundredfold in 2017.

Is it foolish to seek out and embrace the whimsical in such a world as this? I argue that it’s more important than ever. It’s so easy to be aghast at what has become of the political debate; many people have decided to forget that we were presented with an impossible choice last fall, either of which was destined to lead the USA government into dystopia. The last four months has seen an extended primal scream, “No, not this dystopia! The other one!”

But for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, life has continued. Lives are still being led freely, joyfully and in celebration. The sun rises every day and sets at night, and stories are still being told of hope, of love and of inspiration.

The sweet taste of freedom is still in the air, waiting to be enjoyed. And it tastes much sweeter than bile. Choose whimsy.

Exorcising the bogeyman

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My experience is that people just want to carve out a niche, to make a living, to enjoy this life, to to seek a better live, to live and let live. Everything goes fine until it doesn’t, and it’s usually the bogeyman’s fault – except it isn’t.

Who is this bogeyman? He comes in different shapes and sizes. Once upon a time he was an evil villain or monster used to scare children into staying in bed where it was safe (more or less – also to be avoided was under the bed!) – and as time went on, we find that politicians and less subtle warlords use bogeymen to create fear and anger. We also use bogeymen of our own making to scare ourselves into not venturing forth into new territory.

Sometimes, though, we take steps despite the fear of the bogeymen. We actually go off to fight the bogeyman and discover he is really a creature much like ourselves, as the fighters in World War I discovered when they had a spontaneous Christmas Truce and interacted in comfort and joy until the holiday ended and they went back to the butchery.

One person’s bogeyman, carefully examined, is usually just some other person trying to carve out their niche – if you look without fear and hate, you find not bogeymen but just folks trying to live and let live.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all looked around and discovered that the bogeyman never existed? Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t blame anyone for our troubles (except maybe ourselves) and instead took those troubles and just worked through them?