Yo Dre, Why Are You Always Talking about Changing the World?

earth

I’ve been reconnecting with a lot of friends recently and it’s been cool to catch up with all of them. As I’ve shared with them the many changes I’ve gone through over the past year and a half or so, there has been a trend I’ve noticed: people asking me why I care so much about changing the world.

Wait… wanting the world to be a better place is a weird thing? LOL.

Okay, okay, I’ll explain it like this because after a call I had with my fiancé, I feel like I finally found the words to properly convey my mindset.

*deep breath*

Much like everyone else, most of my life was spent just trying to make my way through this world. I tried to play fair within the boundaries of the rules everyone told me to follow. There were exceptions, of course, but for the most part I was just the nice guy who had to earn his confidence over time rather than having it all my life.

Actually, I started off as a super confident kid, but adolescence isn’t for the weak of heart. A brother’s confidence caught a beat down, y’all.

There was also a nagging thought I had had ever since I was a kid: I’m alive right now and one day I won’t be. I kept that to myself for YEARS because I figured I’d be looked at like a weirdo if I started posing such esoteric concepts as a ten-year-old. Still, why was I alive? Am I supposed to just live and die and that’s it?

Was I a sinner for making a joke about Jesus? I mean, it’s Jesus, for… uh… Christ’s sake. He should know I’m kidding, right?

Am I supposed to spend my entire life working and hope that I stay alive long enough to enjoy retirement? That sounds like a bum deal.

I kid you not when I say I had these thoughts and questions for the majority of my life. I felt like an effing alien because no one else I knew seemed concerned about any of this.

Andre: King of the Weirdos.

During college and afterward, I met a handful of awesome, open-minded people. Folks who are fine with conversing about this stuff. Coupled with that, I soon found out that everything for which I had ambition (a high salary, lots of stuff, a misguided definition of love) brought me temporary happiness at best and straight up unhappiness at their worst. I mean, by and large I was a happy person, but every once in a while the disappointment of not being able to swallow society’s expectations of me and the goals I was taught to have manifested itself in not so pretty ways. In short, I was lost.

If only I knew I wasn’t alone, but people who are lost rarely see the big picture.

I took it upon myself to figure this thing out. I’d love to get into the details of how I did it, but not everyone in my personal life would be accepting of the choices I’ve made even if they’ve helped me for the better. I personally don’t care about the opinion of others, but I’m not about to stir the pot unnecessarily either. That being said, I figured myself out. I figured out that I was much more and much less than what I thought I was. To be specific, I’m not special. Not as an individual at least. But I’m also much more than just a man; I’m a part of everything. Just in the same way that a blood cell is both the individual cell and the blood. I am this reality in which I exist, the individual and the collective.

It may sound crazy to people who won’t get what I mean, but stick with me on this because it all ties back together.

I found my happiness and it was pretty awesome if I do say so myself. I spent some time patting myself on the back for having the wherewithal to discover my own answers while still being open to the beliefs of others. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered not everyone reciprocated this feeling. On top of that, I was all too aware that I didn’t actually care about the fancy job, having a bunch of stuff, or many of the other things I was taught to want. What was the point? My happiness and sense of peace was far more important and I learned I could have that independent of any external factors.

So why was I still here?

This next part may sound concerning if you don’t know me at all, but I’m not about to apologize for thoughts that crossed my mind. I seriously questioned why I should keep playing this unfair game of life. You know, the one where we’re expected to follow rules that not everyone is actually following. Where people hate, murder, cheat, steal, and whatever other vile acts humanity is capable of. Why do I want to continue working at a thankless job where I didn’t agree with many principles? I already found my happiness. What was the point of continuing? None of this would help me maintain my sense of inner peace. For all intents and purposes, I would have welcomed being done with life. Not in a negative way, but more like there was nothing I felt this world could offer me and I certainly didn’t want anything from this world either. I was happy being benign, but family, friends, and the rest of society had invested too much in me already. I wouldn’t be let off the hook that easily.

Sigh…

Then a funny thing happened: I met my soul mate aka my fiancé. The story of how we met is nothing short of fate. I say that because, seriously, how it happened is ridiculously improbable (I’ll save that for another day). The point is, I found my reason for enduring a life in which I had no stakes. Soon afterward I was laid off from my job, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise despite it being an initial burden. I had the opportunity to create a life that I wanted, not one shaped by what I was taught to want. I wasn’t about to sacrifice my own happiness again.

But then I looked at the the rest of world and couldn’t help being put off by all the ills around me. Remember, I saw myself as both the blood cell and the blood. I’m both the being and the reality. Therefore, how could I just sit idly by and be unconcerned with inequality, war, discrimination, greed, etc? That’s quite the impossible task given the way I think nowadays.

We’re all sharing the same house. If I was living with someone who treated me unfairly and was trashing our home, I would probably move out or ask them to leave. I don’t have that option. I have to figure out how to coexist in this house. But I don’t want to live in a sh*tty place either.

This time there are no questions. I have to do what I can to fix this house. Not just for me, but for all the people out there who are walking the path I once walked. We’re all just trying to figure our way through this life and we’re the victims or beneficiaries of people who came before us. That doesn’t excuse crappy behavior, but I understand why we aren’t living in utopia right now; there are a lot of lost people out there just trying to fit in where they can.

And this is why I want to bring positivity to this tiny, insignificant rock we call Earth. If I have to be here I’m going to do my damndest to only make an impact that helps rather than hurts. It’s why I’m going vegan. It’s why I want to exclusively use reusable energy. It’s why I’ll always be against our current form of capitalism. It’s why I’m writing this now. Believe me when I say I love you all and I only want to see you happy too. ALL OF YOU.

But I’ll always love my fiancé more. After all, I don’t know if I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for her, heh.

Peace out, party people.

Let’s Come Together and Be Extreme Non-Extremists

Alright, so let’s get into this. It’s not going to be a sunshine-and-rainbows kind of topic, but if that’s all life was about then we’d have no problems to address.

We definitely have a lot of problems to address.

Al-Shabaab, a group linked to al-Qaeda, decided it’d be a cool idea to massacre 148 people at a university in Kenya. Why? It doesn’t matter, but apparently it has something to do with Kenya sending troops to battle extremists in Somalia. Christian students were separated from Muslims and the rest is… tragedy.

The human race has a cancer called extremism. You know, people with such strong beliefs that they’ll do just about anything in the name of them. Many people point at religion, but let’s be real here, extremism in any shape or form is ridiculous and I’m pretty sick of it. It’s easy to point a finger at religions, but any ideology can be taken too far.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but I firmly believe we can come to some common ground as long as there are enough reasonable people out there. The question is, do we have enough reasonable people who care enough to speak up against the unreasonable ones? I have no clue; optimism doesn’t always equate to certainty.

The thing about extremists is because they’re, you know, extreme, they have the drive to organize and effectively make non-extremists roll their collective eyes and say, “WTF are these crazy people doing?” But our head shaking and finger wagging from afar aren’t exactly effective tools, now are they? If they were we’d probably have less so-called “whack jobs” running around murdering people who simply live a life with which they don’t agree.

So where does this leave us? I don’t know, man. That’s a tough question and I don’t think I’m equipped to answer it alone. But I have ideas and I’m willing to cooperate with anyone who simply wants to live in a world without violence and inequality. Is that so much to ask? I’m not asking for a complete 180 in a day, but what’s it going to take here? We have super pro-Americans taking up arms to fight a war with the government and they’re not scared one bit. We have groups like ISIS straight up recruiting people worldwide for a cause not all Muslims are down with. We have power-hungry leaders willing constantly threatening wars that I guarantee most regular folks don’t care about. Do I need to go on?

I’m not saying we need to take action now, but I really want to have like-minded people come together with me on this. We’re the only ones who can put this whole thing back into balance. Well, maybe not the only ones, but we can sure as hell make an impact. Cancer doesn’t stay benign forever.

Peace out, party people.

We Have More Attachments Than a Zip File………………. NERD JOKE!

shackles

You know, after going through the experience of fasting, I realized something: it’s awesome to know I can give something up. Not forever or anything like that, but I like knowing that I don’t need anything.

Nothing controls me. Or, more accurately, I don’t give control to anything, even if it’s just a false sense of control.

At least that’s the goal.

I’ve been doing pretty well if I do say so myself, but I want to take this a step further. Why? Because I have a crazy addictive personality for things I like. It’s the reason why I grew up overweight and watched television cartoons for hours on end as a kid. It didn’t help that lasagna is effing delicious and the Ninja Turtles kicked ass.

Now as an adult, I’ve adopted a more balanced mentality. I feel like I’ve got it down in a “spiritual” way (I hate using that word sometimes because it can come with a lot of baggage, but I can’t think of a better one to use), but I can still find ways to improve in my everyday life.

So starting in May, I’m going to try giving up one thing a month. I think I’m going to start off with television and movies with the exception of anything that I need for The Gibbler Podcast. After that, who knows, but this is my path to living a more detached life.

There’s a difference between wanting and needing. The line is thin, no doubt about it, but sometimes we create that line in our minds. At least I do. I did with meat at one point. Sure, I never actually made the distinction of whether I needed or wanted it, but my actions told a different tale. I ate meat like I needed it. But having certain attachments can mean willingly feeding into a system where something is negatively impacted. So yeah, this is why I don’t want attachments to rule me.

Before May arrives, I’ll share some of the things I’ve given up permanently and how I managed to do it. Willpower can only go so far sometimes; I like having a strategy. Let’s see how this one goes!

Peace out, party people.

Antibiotics: They’re (not so) Magically Delicious!

antibiotics

The beautiful thing about life is how adaptable it is. Life seems to always find a way to exist in one form or another. When life already exists, it does its damndest to try and stay alive.

I admire you, life. You’re one tough S.O.B.

I was watching a documentary over the weekend called Resistance. It focused on the overuse of antibiotics in the US and, man oh man, am I glad I decided to go vegan.

I knew the US has a love affair with antibiotics, but the degree to which we use them is insane, especially in farms. I mean, sure, we’re over-prescribed them also, but 80% of antibiotics sold in the US are used for the farm industry.

Eighty. Percent.

Good Jeebus, that’s pretty freaking high, though it’s not completely surprising given the fact that many animals in farms live in close quarters surrounded by their own feces.

Yum.

I know the answer! Give them antibiotics! That way is surely better than not having disgusting living conditions for eventual food. Yup, that’s the ticket. The only problem is bacteria will develop resistance to antibiotics over time. That’s a fact. Scientists have even found ground turkey that has a strain of salmonella that’s resistant to all antibiotics. All of them.

Yum.

So by pumping antibiotics into everything, we kill off most bacteria and leave behind the resistant ones. Life, once again, found a way to survive. I’m sure we’ll find a way to survive too, but we need to correct this bad behavior. In order to accomplish this, we need to put pressure on the farm industry. They’re providing food you put in your and your family’s bodies. That’s a big deal, right?

As for me, I’m going to be even more vigilant about the food products I buy (it’s easier now that I’m going vegan). I know not everyone has the means to do so, but those of us that do may want to bypass convenience for a way that’s better for our future health. We all have to adapt sometime.

I Want to Become a Superhero (I Think)

batman-boy-boys-cute-kid-Favim.com-441391

I’m conflicted, y’all. I’ve been conflicted for about a year now actually and it all has to do with my own knowledge of how this whole funky system is working.

I love being lazy. I also love reading and watching documentaries. The reading and documentary watching, however, is effing up my desire to be lazy. Case in point: the food industry.

As I wrote on here previously, I’m a vegetarian. I dabbled in it in the past, but it was more so for health reasons. After seeing the ugliness of how animals are treated – how they live, what they’re fed, and so on – I gave up on chowing down on animals.

Even you, bacon. I still love you though.

Don’t tell my future wife.

Now I’m on the way to becoming vegan because I became aware of what happens to animals after they can’t produce milk, eggs, etc.

VEGAN.

I used to make fun of vegans. If we were in high school, I’d probably be tempted to steal a vegan’s lunch money, buy a burger, and seductively eat it as a single vegan tear trickles down their vegan cheek.

NOW I’M BECOMING ONE OF THEM.

Well, I watched a documentary called Food Chains that covers how the food industry thrives based on the poverty of farm workers. Not farmers, mind you; those barely exist anymore. I sort of knew these shenanigans were going on, but to hear the details… Good Jeebus….

So now I want to grow my own food too. Problem solved, right?

Nope. Not at all actually.

I watched a documentary called Blackfish that details the straight up grimy nature of Sea World. You know, how they mistreat orcas, how they lied about the death of trainers, and the ILLEGAL way they captured whales.

I read about the lack of integrity in mass journalism. I read about politicians who get away with crimes that affect citizens while low level criminals get prison time like nothing. I read about the outright lies of capitalism and the roots of poverty. I read about how misinterpretations of something as simple as the bible cause the discrimination of, say, homosexuals.

I read too effing much.

Now, I could turn a blind eye to all this and just say I’m going to do me. I’m going to separate from all of this and live the best life I can without contributing to the negativity. It sounded like a perfect plan.

Almost.

I think a lot of people do this. But if everyone does this, the BS continues. Can I sit on this knowledge and try to play the “I’m just one person” card? That just feels like a cop out to me.

Listen, I want nothing more than a quiet life away from everything with the love of my life, but it’s tough for me to just ignore this nonsense. I can do it for a while, but I always come back to this same place. Can I just ignore this and keep living? Am I okay with knowing others suffer to make this machine move?

That’s a lot to ignore. The proverbial elephant in the room, I suppose.

This isn’t a call to action. Everyone is free to do what they want, even if I don’t agree. But I think it’s time for Clark Kent…

Er… Bruce Wayne. Clark Kent is a dork.

…I think it’s time for Bruce Wayne to let the world know he’s not standing for it.

It’s put up or shut up time.

Peace out, party people.

Spoken Word Piece: Timeless

Photo Credit: Gustavo Medde
Photo Credit: Gustavo Medde

Everyone and their mom is trying to tell me what love is
Claiming I wouldn’t know; this relationship is too young or something
My mother says it takes years of happy moments and frustrated tears
Fighting, compromising, and a dash of luck to make it here
Oh, the hubris of youth, how could I know after little more than 12 months?
Is that what you think? Sorry mother, your theories have led you astray
What if I were to say I knew before the first day
I knew before we spoke. I knew before I knew her name
She was nothing more than a feeling, said my spirit, not my brain
When I heard her voice I was positive this wasn’t simply a fluke
Somehow I knew. Probably because love is unmistakable
The jaded claim it’s a fable while mother dearest
Raises an eyebrow at the thought of it appearing
But what do I know? I’m just infatuated, right?
Smitten, sitting in the midst of a honeymoon phase. That’s got to be it!
If you say so.
You’re free to your opinion, but this doesn’t change the fact that I know
Do you have to find gravity? No?
It’s just there. You may take it for granted, but even without science you know
I know love. It was always there. I didn’t have to work to create it
This is why I can’t engage in a rousing round of debating
Gravity existed before science, but now science backs it up
This love existed before us, I don’t need to back this up
I don’t need validation because I know love the way I know gravity
The way I know I exist and my mother is my family
If you need proof of love’s existence, I get it, people think seeing is believing
Except the very things we see are the things that can mislead us
So which is it? The proof or the feeling?
It’s a matter of perspective that defines the roof from the ceiling
Effort doesn’t change what was and will remain
This love always existed, except now I know its name

Previously: I Want a Puppy

Spoken Word Piece: I Want a Puppy

Sir Francis Pugsly

I want a puppy
Don’t judge me, pretending to be above me
All I want is a puppy, but I don’t have any money
Okay, wait, maybe I could just ask for a puppy
Somebody please, can you do a brother a favor
I swear you’d be my personal savior
If you just give me puppy
Please
With gumdrops on top; not a shot? You puppy hoarding bumbaclot
Pardon my patois, I didn’t mean to offend, my friend
Just lend me some advice on how I can attain a puppy
All I want is a puppy
Okay, fine, I’ll get a job, just stop calling me bum or slob or whatever
Let’s see what monster.com has to offer for worse or better
Cover letters, résumés, sweating bullets thank god for three piece suits at interviews
Can you spy my sarcasm?
Can I have a puppy, goddamn it?
Well, finally I’m hired, only 50 years until I retire
But in the meantime, can you guess what I’m doing with this first paycheck?
Correct!
I’m getting a goddamn puppy
Haters gonna hate, but nobody better judge me
Because truth be told, I secretly hope that he’s cuddly
I made the mistake of stating this publicly
And I was called a faggot, all because I want a puppy
Salesmen hungry for commission spot me on my mission
They say, “Hey, buddy. You got puppy insurance?”
Dog house? Versace dog blouse? No?
Step right up, if you plan to own a puppy, you’ll certainly need this stuff
Don’t have the money now? Turn that frown upside down
Better yet, forget the frown, jot your information down
Get 20% off as long as you apply for this credit card
Your puppy dog needs the finest
You want him to be happy, don’t you? Then don’t fight it
And ignore those silly terms, this ain’t for reading, it’s for signing
Well, alright I suppose, if you really say so
Maybe you’re right, I’ll sign, crossed T’s dotted I’s; How could I say no?
It’s all for my puppy
But the days are getting ugly, trust me
Even with this puppy I dubbed Sir Francis Pugsly
Because it seems all my money goes to debt
And all the money that I don’t have goes to stuff
I appear to be stuck; such is life?
No, such is the pursuit of having, stressed from work getting blasted
On Henny and Jack, double fisting with two glasses
All because I wanted a mother fucking puppy
That’s it. That’s all. But look at what this system wants from me
Why did I want this puppy in the first place?
It was simply a thought one day; I feel it was a Sunday
I was thinking it’d be awesome to someday have a puppy
Now I have a puppy and money, such a joy to be me
I know it’s a lot to ask, but I’d gladly give this puppy back
And all this other stuff for a chance to be free

Previously: Losing You