Which came first: The Soda Pop or this Poem?
If it’s yellow, let it mellow.
If it’s brown, flush it down.
I have to be honest. I wasn’t expecting the election results to come so early and I didn’t want to worry my election day away checking emails, Google results and Instagram. So I turned my phone off and worked in the yard figuring whatever will be, will be. The yard work consisted of constructing a set of stairs into the side of a hill giving us safer access to our ripening lemon tree which stands short, a new kid in an aging avocado grove. Physical labor is still in my blood. All men above me in lineage were working types and I use it to my advantage now as exercise and zen, a way to lively-up-myself to conjure fresh lyrics, a tip from Bob Marley, learned in the latest documentary about him.
Later that evening I took a break from writing my new romances and powered my phone on. I’d heard that my roommate had a flat tire and I wanted to see not so much if he was okay, but whatever pic may be posted of him changing the tire. I hadn’t anticipated the election being concluded so soon, assuming it would be a tighter, longer race, hence my enthusiasm for the vote this year. Needless to say, and perhaps tactless to say, I was so shocked by the early reports, to turn a phrase, I about shit myself.
And so to commemorate the end of this election season, I rest my political commentary on this blog with a post about a time I actually did shit myself.
In our house, if it’s yellow, we let it mellow. And if it’s brown, we flush it down. We haven’t gotten into compostable toilets yet, but predict they’re in a not too distant future. But this isn’t an entry about being green. It’s about childhood, when I didn’t know what being green was; only that being green wasn’t easy according to my Muppet Idol.
For a short while in my strange youth, I used to be bothered with going to the bathroom. I didn’t want to stop whatever I was doing; breaking concentration, inspiration or motivation with temporary relocation. And so I would hold it until it was painful.
One summer I was playing in the waves at VA beach. Or maybe it was Nags Head. Or Myrtle. I can’t remember the geography. I just remember the east coast beaches being wide and when you’re near the water, it’s a long way back to the motel, and suffice to say at my young age, I couldn’t be trusted to go it alone and I didn’t want to bother an adult. So I suppressed my urge.
At one point I’m a little above knee deep in the whitewash trying to act casual when a large wave appeared and flipped me over. At this point I got the full realization of having the shit scared out of me.
Rather than put my tail between my legs, I put my trust in bio-remediation and released the contents of my shorts into the retreating flush of the Atlantic Ocean forgetting that waves ebb and flow. Almost as quickly as it went, it came back again, washing up on the beach seconds later. With handfuls of sand I buried what I could, all to the sand crabs dismay. I felt shitty about it. Literally and figuratively.
After that incident I began planning my time a little wiser. These days I enjoy my quiet time in the bathroom, as most men do. In fact, it’s the most common place you’ll find me tweeting, following my Instagram feed, or updating this blog.
The measure of your character is not what you do when people are looking. It’s what you do when you think no one is looking.
I’m not deaf to the comments or concern about my endorsing a presidential candidate. I understand the best role I can play may be that of musician. Through music, humanity soars higher than politics and personal problems, and when we’re united in song, we truly experience harmony. When a great song comes along, it gives us a glimpse of world peace thanks to the peace of mind we experience for the duration of the song, album, or concert.
Music also invites us to recognize or remember a period of time, commemorating history, such as our national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. In modern times we can refer to dozens of Bob Dylan songs that sing of social injustices, like Hurricane, the story of Rueben Carter, a boxer who was falsely tried for murder. Or Bob Marley who sang of oppression in Jamaica and Ethiopia and brought liberation and whose songs continue to enrich and inspire lives around the world.
If I chose to remain silent about the values I believe are good for my friends and family, such as love made legal for all and the expansion of Pell Grants and student loans, then I wouldn’t be the musician I dreamed I’d be when I was a kid; Musicians like Dylan, or Dave Matthews, Ani Defranco, John Lennon, Rage Against the Machine, or Willie Nelson, who’ve each delivered powerful, forward thinking messages in their actions as well as their music. Rolling Stone, America’s iconic music magazine, has voiced it’s opinion on leadership for decades, and I grew up reading that magazine; inspired.
I hope you can see my choice of using my voice for hope as a positive, and not as an annoyance or flaw in my character. Over the past decade my music and actions have brought awareness to many great charities while adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to their missions. I would be greedy to keep my lips sealed during this election when much of the country is being confused by advertisements lying about Obama.
I believe in the strong character of Barack Obama and the democratic party, whose aim it is to make the opportunity to live one’s dream fair and equal for all.
I am nervous about electing Romney due to all the negative ads, outsourcing, and lying he’s been connected to. If this is him during a campaign, what kind of character will he show in the Presidency?
Read on for more stories as to why I’m voting, and thank you for being kind in your own conclusions.
New York, NY
My friend Aspasia is a Columbia University undergraduate. She is 44. On brains and brawn alone she has returned to academia on scholarship, student loans, and Pell Grants. Now in her 2nd semester with sights set on a distant and achievable PHD, she, like mega-storm Sandy, is making waves. And while the extreme weather has been a major set-back this season, a greater threat to her education is Mitt Romney. If he is elected into office, her student loans and Pell Grants could vanish, leaving her incomplete and in debt. She doesn’t have parents to fall back on, which is Romney’s recommended alternative. Without loans, she would be forced to quit college, have massive debt over her head, and lack the degree she’d need to get the right job to pay it off. She and thousands of students are at risk if Romney is elected. This is yet another reason I’m casting my vote for Obama.
An amendment is being proposed to voters that will read: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota? yes or no.” I pray the people’s answer is no.
If someone is against same-sex marriage, that person shouldn’t marry someone of the same sex. It’s that simple. If you live in MN, help get the vote out. Follow @MN4allfamilies and the website to help is http://www.mnunited.org/gotv.
Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia
It doesn’t take 1 person to change America. It takes 279. One leader with vision and values in The White House. 60 men and women who share that vision and can defeat a Filibuster in The United States Senate, and a majority 218 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives who can enact the legislation that the President wants.
Yes We Can Supporters in Ohio vote for Sharrod Brown. In Missouri, vote Claire McCaskill. In Wisconsin, we love Tammy Baldwin! and In Virginia, it’s Tim Kaine. If you don’t know about the Senators in your state, now’s a great time to Google them.
San Diego, CA
As a budding organic food farmer, I encourage people to shop at their local farmer’s markets to enjoy seasonal, home grown food. Buying local & organic not only supports your neighborhood economy, it’s also better for your body and better for the planet. On our ballot we welcome Prop 37 for proper food labeling. This is the right to know what’s in our food. Major food manufacturers don’t want to label their food, and in turn that hurts us local/organic farmers. We work hard to grow delicious all-natural foods while they spray chemicals on everything and genetically modify foods to make them look perfect. I am voting YES on PROP 37 because I think it would be great for everyone to see how much genetically modified (GM) food there is on the shelf, in hopes it would shift the general interest towards healthier, all natural foods. If GM food is so safe, why is there so much resistance from the major manufacturers to label it for us? Have you noticed how many more food allergies there are these days? http://www.carighttoknow.org/facts
Thanks for reading. And thank you for your vote.
Everyone has ideas about how to best live life and best use their voice,
And many feel their idea is of the highest choice.
I am continually inspired by what I read, what I watch, who I listen to and meet;
the places I travel; what I taste and eat.
I can sometimes feel my whole perspective, if not my entire life purpose, shift inside of a single conversation.
It happened when I was with Al Gore, sailing to Antarctica
on the way to Palmer Station.
The fragility of the environment and the passion of the captain had profound affects that brought me to my knees.
So much so when I returned home I started planting more trees.
But shift also happens in humble surroundings. Just as it did on the couch watching The Big Lebowski.
The style and grace of the lead indeed planted a seed,
though instead trees my interest in cultivation became that of weed.
In both cases I became so engrossed in what my senses were seeing.
I felt some kind of cosmic baton passed on to my being.
Yes, I shall sing for those things that do not have a voice!
The Trees! The Ice! The Planet! …Of Course!
And Yet, I shall wear a bathrobe, and cut my hair never;
Forever remaining The Dude whose carpet ties the room together.
And so my friends, by these and many other contradictions I may reveal,
I invite you to a halt; stop reading; heel.
Avoid my throw-up, wherever it may show up: in the press, on the radio, or onstage between songs.
I may just be a confused young human whose ideas are wrong.
Finally! says one possible commentator, the same who shouts Shut Up and Sing!
Though, I feel that person has yet to understand a very important thing.
Conflict inspires art. Therefore what’s bad of the mouth, may be good for the heart.
Look closely at any conflict and you will find it.
We artists are damn near impossible to quiet.
When humans debate, or argue, it’s usually about change,
which is happening anyway all over the world stage.
And what I feel is the most disconcerting about change isn’t whether it’s a good or bad decision,
it’s that we waste our breath trying to persuade another to take our position.
I’m right. My choice is higher.
No I’m right. That man is a liar.
As if the sand wasn’t pouring out of the glass in haste,
precious moments are lost in today’s debates.
We argue about policy, money, and whether or not science is true,
and we even do so in the privacy our minds too.
We seem to forget about impermanence. We forget to thrive.
And thus turn grey before we realize we were ever alive.
For the past decade I’ve traveled abroad repeatedly,
and with more than 125 stamps and visas in my passport I’ve proof I wonder frequently.
If there are things I’ve noticed that sets the US apart from the rest,
it’s that we’re chubbier, paranoid and consider our nation the best.
Largely, and I use that word figuratively, (that one too.)
We Americans are hoarders. Are you?
We love stuff. Especially double stuff. And it shows.
If you can’t see that, you may not be able to see your toes.
Man’s love of snack foods and soda weighs heavy on his health.
Just as what weighs on our environment is our love of industry and wealth.
From this world view easily seen in a glance,
I composed a new song to help “The Real Bears” dance.
And yet, my opinion is just what it is: an opinion.
Anyone can write a rebuttal to any of the above comments and completely negate my sentiment.
Just as a candidate will point a finger, dismissing the good the others’ done all along;
So too will a soda company tell us that a public heath PSA “is bunk and its statistics wrong.”
One cola company even said, “There is no scientific evidence that connects sugary beverages to obesity.”
I don’t need science. I’ve got family history.
I guess the best I can request in this persuasive verse
Is decide for yourself what you think best works.
Collect your own data, or not.
Be inspired by whatever may touch your heart, and share what got.
But be non-attached to the outcome. You can be both Al Gore AND The Dude, see,
You’ll either be applauded, ignored or cut you down and treated rudely.
But all results are good. Know this and you’ll be fine.
Because feeling anything inside is the simplest definition of being alive.
For more on the Dude, Real Bears, or Al Gore,
This morning a storm cloud formed over my home and let out a thunderous crack, shaking the windows and dropping the last of this season’s avocados from the trees. San Diego gets plenty of overcast and seasonal drizzle, but seldom do we get thunder and lightning with huge downpours. The storm reminded me of my upbringing in Virginia. We’d get heated thunderstorms quite often; the kind that would lay large branches over power lines and rooftops; tempests. I recall them being quite violent, but I still miss them.
My arrival home last night was the finale to months of touring and the rain began to fall only minutes before pulling into the driveway. I considered the change in weather a request from the heavens; a trillion tiny droplets singing me to sleep. rest child. no need to wake up soon. dream new dreams. we’ll take care of you.
The last week of shows had been climactic, experiencing extraordinary highs and extreme lows within a few close breaths. There was no challenge I couldn’t overcome, but there were challenges nonetheless, largely having to do with strength to continue and finding ways to make our reoccurring show new again. At the end of the day I am so grateful to the audiences; those who make it easy for us to carry on. Your invitation and listenership practically pull the words from my lips, uplifting my spirit again and again, giving my life new direction, purpose, and reason to serve.
I dreamed last night of new songs to thunderous applause. I traveled farther than I’ve yet to and I felt myself taller and wiser; proof that we’ve still got a long way to grow.
Thank you. We’ve come a long way together.