I went to the World Series last week in Los Angeles, but like I said in last week’s column, the Dodgers did not activate me for the game. You know, it’s tough to make a major league squad when you turn 65.
Now my young graphic designer was clueless about my column last week, writing as I did about baseball, politics, and apple pie. Well, gang, I used lots of words to say some very simple things. Life is about resilience and rebuilding, persistence and perseverance. We are all dealt blows along the way, but we just have to learn how to blow back harder. I have always felt these are traits the LGBT community should have integrated into their soul.
Sometimes pro athletes get hurt and the sports announcers say they are day-to-day. So which one of us isn’t? The future can be 20 years or 20 minutes. The world is full of consistent inconsistencies. You can survive a year of chemotherapy and then get shot by a mad accountant, a crazed militant, or jealous lover. Or worse, you can eat a meal at Arby’s. Just push on. You can’t change the unknown. But you can create the world you live in by each and every choice you make every day. Start with better choices. Get rid of that loser to your left.
We are all citizen soldiers called upon not to coast through life, but to fight, for our rights to live, be and enjoy our liberty. For gays, it’s never been just a sailboat ride in the breeze. The LGBT community has faced challenges for years and years. We should be armed with spirits of metal and souls of stone. We have been kicked and beaten down, abused and ridiculed, laughed at with one straight eye and looked upon derisively with another. Fairies, my ass. We are fighters first. Warriors who have overcome adversity, conquered the haters, and won ourselves a place at the table. I can do without the broccoli though.
In last week’s editorial, I simply tried to say that baseball is a sport where, in at bat, after at bat, you lose more than you win. Come to the plate 600 times a season, and if you are good you only get a hit once every three or four at bats. Most of the time you wind up sitting on the bench asking what went wrong. The answer is nothing. You just learn to try again, take another cut. That’s life, just like the Frank Sinatra song. Beaten down in April, back up in May. If you compete, you conquer. Be in the arena. That is where your blood flows, ideas count, and your life finds purpose. Not on the sidelines.
Some of you have heard I may have been sick again, but hey, that’s life, and tough, I got better. Look, I am a guy who has survived cancer, chemo, radiation, spinal fusions, knee replacements, shoulder and elbow surgeries, not to mention a delightful ex-lover who crashed way too many cars. As you get older you hurt quicker and heal slower. I can’t dive for baseballs any more. Hell, I can’t bend for my keys. But my faculties are about me still, and as I think of this past rough year, bouts with diabetes and bronchial infections, I am reminded of Tom Petty’s legacy. I won’t back down. I will stand my ground. I won’t let this world get me down. There is too much good in it. Mom used to say as long as you can keep your eyes open, there is beauty to see.
America has gone through a rough patch, too. We have an insane man in the White House, and environmental calamities are ripping at our center, from Houston to San Juan. But we will endure some lunatic’s four-year rental of the Oval Office. Maybe next time we will get it right. You have to have faith in the future. We have endured to much in the past to let it all go south. Here is the secret of life, whether you are 18 or 80, 30 or 60. Shit happens. It is going to happen again and again at every age and in every stage of your life. So develop the tools now to deal with crisis and pain tomorrow.
Shut the door on reality and it comes in through the window anyway. Enjoy the breeze. Demons you thought you conquered, like athlete's foot and Comcast outages, drive us over the brink anway. A shoelace breaks just as you are about to take the field, or a hurricane will knock down the roof of your home and land you on the seat of your ass. Pick yourself up anyway. Better than crying in the mud. Don’t accept second best.
Learn to laugh and love side by side with adversity. If it does not kill you, it makes you stronger. Try not to piss off your editor as much as I do. Always show love to your creative designer.
Master the chaos and cacophony of life. Do not let it master you. Enjoy yourself. Get a massage. Take a trip. Buy Pez. Eat a cookie. Run the beach. Buy a dog. Eat out. You can’t cook anyway. See the movie ‘Edge of Seventeen’ but try to date someone older.
Be wary of coaches who slap your butt. Listen to music more. Life without music is not life. Turn off that talk show, especially if it is me screaming at Nancy Grace. Nothing I said was that important. Build things that matters, but not with Legos.
Now there are certain things you must avoid, like friends who want to borrow money, or come over every day. Treasure your privacy, and enjoy your aloneness. Find wholeness in your being and you will not encounter emptiness in your heart. Give the world the best you have, but keep a little for yourself. The good you do comes back to you, but watch yourself, so does the bad.
Maybe walking through the valley of most souls will scarcely get your feet wet, but walk anyway, unless it is in your neighbor’s yard, and he has little children. Don’t even think about it. Don’t let anyone tell you they will be closer friends with you if you only take your clothes off. That’s a good time to run away fast.
The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. Avoid day traders and people who will make you rich by midnight. Beware of love on Grindr, or finding meaning at Whole Foods. Remember the Alamo, Stonewall, and your ATM Password. Have a lover’s quarrel with the world. Learn how to make a life, not just a living. Do not become your car. but pick out a nice one. There is lots of traffic on the road. Keep your eye on it and not your I Phone. Always keep a song in your heart and a smile on your lips.
Buy yourself a new outfit now and then, but not one that makes you look like Daisy Deadpetals. Create your own dreams; don’t copy others. Retain the ability to laugh at yourself and you will never cease to be amused. Let others laugh at you without getting angry at them. Don’t waste your energy on their stupidity.
It is not so bad to be intolerant if what you detest most is intolerance. It is okay to be demanding if what you demand is excellence. Mediocrity is the middle ground, and if you come from the Catskill Mountains and the country, as I do, you know the only thing you see in the middle of the road are dead skunks and yellow lines.
Be all you can be. No one else will do it for you. The head you lie on your pillow at night is your own. Use it daily, and don’t ever do anything in the day time that won’t let you sleep peacefully at home at night.
Make your bed and brush your teeth in the morning. Make it a beautiful day. As long as your eyes can open, there is beauty in this world to see, to find, to cherish. Mom told me so, and she also told me I was always entitled to her opinion. Today, you get mine.