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Focusing Love

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

For me, Martin Luther King Jr. and love always go hand-in-hand. As I’ve been going about the day, remembering his life and his impact on our world, I keep coming back to the subject of love. So much of what I’ve heard in my life focuses on loving your neighbor or your enemy, but I think the root of all that is really love of self. Many of us that grew up with the bible can easily recall “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” but I almost wonder if it should have been “love yourself so you can love your neighbor.”

I can only think that if we loved ourselves more, it would be impossible to treat others so poorly. What do you think? Should we really be focusing more on loving ourselves and let the rest follow?

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Cadillac Envy

She looked just like this.

She looked just like this.

My first car was my great grandma’s ’83 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. Yes, I was spoiled. While my contemporaries inherited much newer, more practical, reliable cars— think Corollas, Civics, and the like—I got the Caddy. It was passed on after my Great Grandma Beulah’s death and I was honored to take the keys.

The year was 1996. I was entering my senior year in high school and I had just gotten my license. No one had a car like that. All white on the outside, white walls, white leather interior, with burgundy trim, wood paneling inside, 3 (yes 3!) ashtrays and lighters (one for each passenger in the back seat), digital controls for the thermostat/radio, and seating for six. Looks were just one thing. This car was like a scud missile. Being heavier than most modern trucks, it just floated on the road, quiet as hell, and although its 8-cylinder engine could barely get the tonnage moving, once you got going, momentum and inertia took care of the rest. It was easy to hit 90 on the freeway and barely notice.

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music

Life in Ballads

life_in_balladsWhen I was growing up, pretty much the only way to hear your favorite song was via the radio. I didn’t have a lot of disposable income to buy any album I wanted, not even those singles that came out on cassette tape. I remember just listening to the radio in hopes of hearing that one song and stopping everything just to listen to the whole thing or belting it out with friends as we cruised around looking for something to do.

I’m a sucker for sappy songs. From my angsty, emotional teenage years, right up until my last road trip with the family this past week, I pretty much can’t get enough of songs about love, loss, and pain. I tried to make a top ten for my life to share with you, and I had to leave out way too many, but I got it down to 11. This list covers a broad range from childhood up to the present.

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No Longer Than a Song

20131211-003950.jpgI parked the car and turned off the engine but left the radio on. A song was playing and it had that perfect balance of hopeful and sad. And we were both wrapped up in it, hands held together like we were two high school kids falling in love. Just us, in the car, the heat slowly dissipating around us as the music played on. There was nowhere else to be and nothing more important than hearing how it ended, together. We didn’t need to speak or maybe we just didn’t have anything to say that could be more important than listening. With the melody, my mind wandered from dinner, to the winding highway along the coast, sliding in and out of wisps of fog, and back to that parking lot. The hopeful parts of the song took me back to three kids sleeping a hundred miles away, our day together, and intertwined somehow in there too, was something like sadness. Like words left unsaid or regret. Then back to you, the car, the cold closing in and our hands getting sweaty together. A perfect moment that’s hard to let go of. The music stopped and we paused just enough for a breath, knowing that we eventually had to let go of each other’s hand and get out of the car.

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Love Everyone, Even the Stupid Ones

In high school I was a big-time hacky-sacker. Oh yeah, me and my hacking crew were practically pro. Anyway, as you may or may not know, true hackers follow general Rastafarian rules. One love. Don’t self-serve. All are welcome. Most are high. Some are even vegetarian. I have to admit I loved the physical challenge of the sport, and I never self-served, but that was just about it. I didn’t love everyone. I never smoked pot and there was no way in hell I was going to be a vegetarian. Through my acquaintances in the “hack world” I came to know and love reggae music though, and as I listened to the lyrics and felt the proverbial vibe, I really did believe that it would be great to love everyone. I mean, how can you argue with that? In practice though, I loved my shit-talking and clung to my opinions and judgements like a religion.


Back in the day, I used to joke that I was really working on loving everyone, and my friends who knew me best always laughed, because they knew my sharp wit and tongue weren’t on board. And today, I would say I’m much closer to this goal, and my tongue is too, but I still struggle like hell. Maybe you can help me? Here’s a list of people I’m having a hard time loving at the moment:

  • Tea Baggers (a.k.a. Tea Party peoples): What the hell is up with these people? They’re mostly financially stable white people with, as far as I can tell, very closed minds and very short sight. (See Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated) Well, I guess that sums up the Repbulican party (see next)
  • The Republican Party: I truly believe everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but what kind of people don’t believe everyone on earth deserves peace, love, happiness, comfort (physical, financial, emotional, etc.), and an education? No exceptions. Sure these things are almost impossible in some countries, but we can’t call ourselves the greatest country on earth- which these fools shout from the mountain tops every day before they pray over their Wheaties- if we can’t give every person in America a job opportunity, health care, an education, and safety. These people need to READ their bibles, not just throw them.
  • Guys With Super-Jacked up Trucks: C’mon. Seriously? Absolutely no utility and don’t say it’s part of culture. Even cowboy culture- which I believe use trucks quite often- thinks it’s rediculous, trust me. What I love best is that 90% of every douche-bag driving one of these is 5’8″. It might be fine if they didn’t also have chrome balls dangling from their trailor hitch and bumper stickers that say “Gun control means using both hands” and “All fags will burn in hell” right next to their “Jesus is King” sticker. Sad shit.
  • People Who Talk Over Other People: Just plain rude and shows you’re not listening and not interested in actually having a conversation. Might as well just go home, record yourself, and play it back over and over and save the rest of us the frustration.

Okay, I’m done…for now. Even after getting riled up here, I still want to keep working towards that love. I guess the bottom line is I’m open to coversation with anyone who has an open mind, and I know I may have something to learn from you, even if I think you’re stupid (and as long as you don’t talk over me).

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