The following text was first performed on 12/13/2008 at the second annual Westhaven Christmas party as part of the talent portion of the evening. Presented as a bit of introspective soul-searching that turns into a pep-talk.
So... I've been experimenting with internet dating. I'm not going to get into any particulars, but it's been an interesting experience. I actually decided to do it in part because my friend and Attorney was using me as an example of why he wouldn't. We're two of a dwindling pool of bachelors we know, so we give eachother shit over this kind of stuff all the time, and when asked if he'd ever try meeting people online, he was like, "Man, Josh does all sorts of crazy shit on the internet and even he doesn't date people."
So, in the name of broadening everyone's horizons, I figured I'd put that excuse to rest. And like i said, I'm not going to get into particulars but it's been interesting. It's good for me to get out there, quote un-quote.
I don't know... I used do have this different life where I lived in a really big city, and I use to have a lot more sex.
I used to call myself an artist. Not like in the bedroom, but seriously, as my life, my identity.
I remember the first time I used that description in mixed company. I was madly in love with this girl, woman really. She was a bit older and I was at a party w/a bunch of her friends, other teachers and some douchy guys in finance, and we're doing the getting to know you thing, standing around some bedroom explaining "what we do." The two conversations you can have with anyone in the City: Whaddya do and what do you pay for rent.
So it's going around the circle, and the guys are all like, "I'm an account manager at so and so" and the girls are like "I teach literature at such and such," and it comes to me and I'm feeling pretty good, got a couple drinks in me, lounging in the doorframe with my arm holding the top, very Stanly Kosklowski from Streetcar Named Desire, and my lady is right over there, smiling, and rather than explain some complex half-apologetic shit about being a freelance internet wrangler with a bachelor of the fine arts I just sort of leaned into it; "I'm an artist," I said. "Performance."
It was a good moment. One of those times you feel yourself sort of break through to another level. They all respected it, and she liked it too. A lot. Hard to believe that was five years ago...
Hey man, you want to hit that music over there like I showed you? Cool.
music starts: "Some Things Go Without Saying" by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
It's been a hell of a year. A year of changes. A year of growth, expansion. A year of love, life; new life, specifically. I believe, a year for the history books.
And speaking of changes and history, it was also an election year, and that was nice. As the saying goes, Si se puede, which means "yes we can." Yes we did. And yes we will, bcause this is getting started. It's not enough, but it's more than nothing, and I have to say, with all my doubts and reservations and hedges of bets, it feels good to win.
And that's something I think we all aught to embrace a little bit: winning, taking charge, being empowered.
It's not an easy thing. The punk-rocker in all of us inherently wants to fight the power, tear down any and all authority. But the truth is: power exists. It's out there, and as the Right Sort of People in the world, I've become convinced its our lot in life, maybe even our duty, to take some of it for ourselves and use it to do right.
And that's tough, you know, because it's not all rising up and overcoming injustice. Me, personally, I've become an employer, a boss, which throws me for a loop, because growing up I never had a boss that I respected, someone I looked up to, someone who I didn't think five minutes after I got there that I could do their job better. And now that's me, and I'm terrified of being that guy.
But ducking and dodging don't make it any better. It's a real thing. It's happening. And when somehting is really happening trying to pretend that it isn't just delays the inevitable, if not making the whole situation worse. Things like this got to be embraced.
A good friend once taught me something, a mantra of sorts, a real perl wisdom I think, and it says, "the most important thing is to stop struggling."
And let me be clear, this isn't a mantra about surrender -- now there's one Boss that I can get behind: "No retreat and no surrender" -- but it is about realizing when you're stuck in a bad loop, and breaking out. It's that whole Bhuddist non-attachment thing.
See, we cling to our struggles. It's natural. Conflict is a force that give us meaning, you know? How often do people define themselves in terms of what they're not, what they're against. "Oh yeah, I like all kinds of music, except Rap and Country." Contrast. Contrast is the root of all perception. If you want to stand out you have to stand apart from some something, and so it's normal, necessary even, at least psychologically to set ourselves up in opposition to other things.
But, and here's the important thing, there's a big difference between being in it for the struggle, and being in it for the win, for the progress, for the learning, the growing, for the movement of life, the actual honest advancement of yourself and your cause. Struggle in and of itself -- and I think you all know what I'm talking about here: struggle for struggle's sake -- is the ultimate conservative mindset. It's fraught with drama; it seems exciting; it feels real important; but you pretty much stay the same. You're strugglin'. You don't have to deal with the possibilities. It's a comfort zone.
There's another good quote which is popularly misatributed to Nelson Mandela. It's actually from some new age lady in hollywood, but it's still really good. And it starts out saying, "It is our light, and not our darkness that frightens us. Our greatest fear is not that that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."
And, in the way of quotations which become popularly misattributed to Nelson Mandela, it's a bit of a cliche. It's a bit glib, for sure. But it's also got some serious truth to it.
Because it's scary, getting what you say you want. Just saying what you want, putitng it out there, that's hard enough, but God forbid it should actually come to pass. Then you're really on the hook, you know?
But I think that's a question we have to answer, because we've got an opportunity here. I'll be direct; consider this: We are rising, and there are millions rising behind us. Every generation has a chance, an opportunity to make it's mark, to change the world, and our moment is just beginning to come into bloom. Everyone knows that what we have been doing doesn't work, but noone yet knows quite what to do.
And I think we can really show these people how it's done. A better way of life. A better way of family. A better way of community, of country. A better way of dealing with our conflicts and struggles where we don't get so hung up. I think its our turn to take a spin in the driver's seat. Can I get a heyo?
Heck yeah, hit that other music, man.
music: "At The Border, Guy" by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
Yeah. So that's why I'm experimenting with internet dating. Ha! Seriously, though, it's just another way of trying to get what you want.
But I've also become a boss, and I'm ok with that.
(Add in 4 to 5 other bits of good news from the audience, e.g. "And Kelly took over the skateshop. And Hannah's starting to tattoo people. And...")
And that's the good news, peple. We're doing it. We're really doing it and it's really happening. Oceans may rise and markets may fall, but this is not the end of the world. It is the beginning of ours. Our world, for better or for worse. I say for better, but that's really up to us.