Move Closer, Speak Softer

I’ve wanted to write this for a month now. Maybe three months. Maybe longer. Something poignant, something pointed, something compelling. I fingerprint my phone open in the morning to this new digital madness. It feels like I’m in a room with bad acoustics where everyone is trying to speak, but instead of moving closer and keeping voices at the same volume, everyone stays in place and just starts to yell. The cacophony is deafening, and little of it is intelligible. A familiar mental fatigue sets in, sometimes before I’ve even had coffee. I’ve questioned what, if anything, I can or should add to the din. I’ve questioned my own abilities to begin a worthwhile discussion. See, I’m not much for talking just for the sake of talking. I like to woodshed. I prefer to hone a sharp point in relative privacy before heading out into the fray. That’s me, most days. Procrastinating, doubting, worrying.. and there's no shortage of events to keep anxiety at a strong tilt. So I open the computer, launch a new doc, stare at it for a minute or two, and then promptly pick up a guitar or a phone, or I get up to check the fridge for anything new. There never is. But I'll stare into it anyway. 

So, what do I want to say? I’d like to think that I will finish writing, hit send, and kindness will spread across the land like a shockwave. It’s such a beautiful thought that I’m writing these very words with a smile on. That’s the kind of thought that will keep a guy from writing anything at all. Because then I’m just writing something that I think will get you to think a certain way, or take a certain action. While that notion has it’s merits, it’s not really what my aim is. Not explicitly, anyway. I certainly wouldn’t be mad about inciting any kind of positive activity. There, an honest look at my thought process. Like a lump of clothes in a washing machine. 

I believe in self-preservation. I understand the desire to protect yourself, your sanity, your things. It’s human nature to do that. It's necessary in so many ways. If you read through any comment section, or scroll through a twitter timeline, you wonder if there’s any decency left at all. I will readily blame Donald Trump for enflaming and empowering millions of people to be a complete horse’s ass. He inspires angry mediocrity. He fans flames. Not for a cooking fire to prepare food, or for a hearth to keep warm.. but for the fire that burns down your house, and then reminds you how lucky you are that he helped you out because that house was useless anyway. He’s a man devoid of tact, culture, compassion, or even a smidge of wit or humor. I find him to be one of the least appealing humans on the planet. Sure, I'm not alone in these feelings, but there remain many who did want this. 

Last year, MMA fighter Rhonda Rousey was expected to win a big fight. She was very heavily favored. She had become a beacon and an inspiration for many women. When she fell, there was shock, and sadness. I remember that popping in my head as I watched Trump run away with the presidency last November. Hillary played the part of Rousey that night. Yes, I voted for her. She was/is exponentially more qualified, and also female. You bet your ass that’s a big deal. In the months since, misogyny has become a household word. Millions of men in this country take pride in and root for every single thing Trump does, and millions of women agree that men should think and act like that. So... ok, and that’s just one of the ridiculous issues we have at present. I don’t really need to talk about the problems I have with the sitting president. I know it doesn’t help. Voting next year to restore a proper checks and balances system again will, and you bet that I’ll be at the booth.

The Wall! Build The Wall! Donny clearly wasn’t a Pink Floyd fan. I wonder if he even hears music. I absolutely doubt it. Gahhh! See?? He has made it nearly impossible for people not to talk about him. Here I am, Trumping about. And he’s done nothing to try and better the world. Not one thing. He’ll have lived his life from beginning to end, rich, powerful, petty, and president. I don’t think he’ll die particularly unhappy, honestly. Everyone will have known who he is. Nefarious. Infamous. Historic. He makes it feel like living life as he does will make you happy. It won’t. I DIGRESS. Can you tell I’m still angry?

So, many mornings after waking I kind of just flop around in my disconnect. Wondering where the decency in some people hides, wondering where the humanity in our race and country have gone. As a country, we’re a kid that hordes our stuff and scowls when a family friend's kid that you don’t know comes over to play while the parents mingle. I’ve seen some truly childish and juvenile conversations between reasonable and good adults. I've been part of a few! There’s a great gathering of stuff happening. Otherwise known as “rich get richer, poor get poorer”. Nothing new to report there, it's just that suddenly the message from the top is that it's this suddenly cool thing that everyone should strive for. Not into it. The basic premise behind what’s mine is mine, I don’t really have a contention with. I’m not a fucking communist. I’m just saying, try a little kindness. Try to inspire by example. Try to be great by lifting someone up, not keeping them down. 

So I have a band called Grizfolk, and we were recently in Mahahual, Mexico on a day off from the Rock Boat cruise. I spent part of one day enjoying the ridiculously blue water, drinking Coronas in a hammock, taking that beautiful moment in. I've never been in water that blue or clear. It's as pleasing as advertised, and those few hours were a blissful shutdown of the boiling pot that lives in my skull most of the time.


When it came time for tacos (which in truth is most waking moments), three of us ventured inland, away from the tourist strip to see if we could find even a little bit more culture. Boy did we. Sort of like walking through a facade in an old western town, the juxtaposition between the beachfront and the town is shocking. Goes from spring break to nothing fake in the length of a soccer field. We stopped to ask a kid on a swing where to find the best tacos in town, and she immediately pointed across an old soccer field to a place that looked like a little garage at the end of a gravel road. The scenes on the walk over there evoke this colorful melancholy. Out back behind paradise. Inside was a young mom with a big smile and a huge spit of al pastor. The oldest boy fried up fresh tortillas and onions, the middle girl prepared a huge stalk of string cheese, and the youngest little boy wanted to take pictures like us and also show us all of his stuff. The tacos were also unbelievably delicious. Fresh salsa, little shards of pineapple.. the whole operation was flawless, and it was an unforgettable meal in a stranger's house. I couldn't suggest it more, though I don't believe there was even a name to suggest.

Photo by Taylor Wallace

Photo by Taylor Wallace

There’s a simplicity to a simpler, more modest life that I think we’re programmed here in the US to think of as sad. We’re supposed to believe that they are lesser humans because they don’t have what we do. This country has to pull it’s head out in that regard. Experience and human relation with those that are different, foreign, unknown.. that’s the key to everything getting better. Closing off, digging in heels, crossing arms, closing doors, judging, pointing fingers… it’s not going to make your life better. It won’t make mine better either.

So if you happen to read this out there among a galaxy of words and voices, do I think it will change your mind in some way? Not really. Especially if you’re someone who is for building walls or think Trump is a good guy, or worse. However, it does feel really good to talk about. I don’t doubt that there are many who feel as I do, and are keeping their thoughts in too, like a fart in a packed elevator. So I'm basically promoting travel and writing here. Seriously, do both. We have to see and feel things to begin to grow back our compassion and empathy.  Move closer, speak softer.