“When the ego thinks it knows, it stops looking.”
And when I stopped looking, I was ignorant. And that’s when judgments begin.
Judgments between religious groups, between nations, political groups, or between people.
Because when each group thinks it knows, it loses their curiosity.
And discussion stops.
And then they can judge you.
Judge you as wrong, and devalue you, and dismiss you.
And some will go so far as to hurt you, because their ego “knows” they are right.
What to do?
Question yourself, because your ego is not so needy as to hang onto convictions to prop it up.
Are you strong enough to listen?
Are you strong enough to learn?
I had known him awhile, so he felt comfortable talking about this.
“So you’ve got about half a million dollars in stock?” I asked, impressed.
“Yep, it’s been growing since I was young,” he answered.
“And plus all your savings, a couple hundred thousand there. Nice,” I said.
He motioned his thumb up, “More than that.”
My eyes grew wide. “How much?”
“At least 5-6 hundred thousand,” he said.
“You’re a millionaire,” I said, shocked.
He grew agitated. “Yea, but not like those rich guys, who aren’t paying their fair share.”
Another friend now…
“I think he gave me the apartment and car because he wants to keep me needing him,” he said.
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“I work for him, so he lets me have the apartment and car for free,” he said, “but it’s to keep me around.”
“That’s true,” I said. “Do you not want him to give them to you?”
“You don’t understand,” he shook his head.
It doesn’t matter how much you get, if you don’t have gratitude for what you have, you’ll never be satisfied.
And it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, because your fear will make you forever suspect them for conspiring to take from you.
But with self-esteem, you realize you don’t need anyone’s permission to make your own decisions.
The power you think they have over you is YOUR power.
Take your power back. It’s always been your’s. No matter how much money you have.
The millionaire and the one without money. Both can be poor.
They caught the wild children and put them in zoos,
They made them do sums and wear sensible shoes.
They put them to bed at the wrong time of day,
And made them sit still when they wanted to play.
They scrubbed them with soap and they made them eat peas.
They made them behave and say pardon and please.
They took all their wisdom and wildness away.
That’s why there are none in the forests today.
The human condition has left the field. It’s found at desks, and chairs. In lines, in boxes, and restaurant tables. And if not there, in front of screens, were life is packaged for easy consumption.
She was a hard person to track down. But, that’s what happened in my world. I found passionate people who did their own thing. Treasures. I hunted for treasure.
She had finally agreed to meet me. “I won’t flake this time,” she said. I believed her.
I was late. I rushed from the shower, dressed quickly, pulled a hat over my wet hair, slipped on shoes, then stopped to look in the mirror. My hat said HUSTLER across the front in bright red letters. I thought about changing it, then “Fuck it” and I was out the door.
She was waiting there, alone. She had long naturally curly hair, tight brown curls, cascading out playfully. Her jean shorts were short, and her smooth legs reached out, long and healthy.
She had a fixed gaze, eyes not wavering from mine. I liked that. She spoke in an assured way. We talked of growing up, goals, family. Within a few minutes, we were comfortable. The pints helped.
Hours passed, then I said. “Let’s go to my place. We can walk.”
“I need to grab by bike first,” I said.
She stood with me as I unlocked my bike. She raised an eyebrow.
“You lock your bike with hand cuffs,” she said. It was a statement more than a question.
“Oh yea,” I replied. “You never know when you might need to make a citizen’s arrest.”
At my house, I kissed her. She didn’t react. Later, she did. I pulled her shorts off. They were tight, but I enjoyed the task. I carefully edged them around her hips and down her legs.
I lay on her and we shared a long kiss. I pulled up and looked into her eyes and said slowly, “I’m gonna eat up all of you.”
She gave a sheepish look, “Well, you don’t need to do *all* of me.”
I laughed, which made her laugh. “Ok,” I said, and sat up.
“I didn’t intend for this,” she said. I nodded, “That’s fine.”
She remained laying there, and I sat at the edge of the bed. “I guess I should find my clothes,” she said.
She gave a long sigh, still laying on her back. She brought her legs up, knees together, then extended her feet into the air, holding onto the backs of her knees.
She presented herself from this position. “You can kiss it,” she said.
I spent a minute there, and then we allowed ourselves the pleasures that we wanted. Then we rested in the dark and talked. We talked of past relationships. She had boyfriend she could not let go of. She looked up at me, laying on her back as I sat and listened.
“He’s dating this twenty-something,” she said. “He told me, ‘I think I’m going to marry this girl’ He even introduced his son to her. He never did that for me.”
I saw a tear slip down and towards her ear. I gave a sad smile.
“It’s hard letting go,” I said.
She left in the morning. I walked her back to her car. I wanted to unravel her, I wanted to see what made her drive so hard for her business, and for someone who wanted to marry another.
But I never saw her again.
Photo credit: @jessmilewski
My heart pounded in my chest, it expanded into my head, pushing against my skull. I thought of my family. Then I ignored the thought, burying it away.
I shut the door of the truck, key in ignition, twist, engine rumbled on, all 12 cylinders moving. I was in second gear before the first reaction, from someone walking by. He turned, stern eyes slightly surprised, then he was running after me. He was shouting something, but I ignored it and sat forward in the seat, anxiously willing the truck to gain speed.
I looked ahead. Only fifty feet. It was slow-motion. My gut ached, but the weak, empty feeling I always felt had disappeared. Adrenaline surged, even as I saw the others draw their firearms. I made myself small, keeping the truck straight. I heard clunk-clunk-clunk reverberating through the truck, rounds riddled the truck. Then the splash of glass. Up the curb, bouncing, glass swung and twisted, as the truck jerked up and then down over it.
My side hurting, but I didn’t bother to check . One goal right now. One way ticket. There was one more curb, a bigger one, but the last. I glimpsed the other side, they were waiting, but could do nothing.
Rounds bit into the the side-view mirror to my left, splintering it into a craggy nub. I bent lower, leaning across the gear shifter. But I felt the wetness spreading down my arm, I was losing my grip on the wheel now. One more gear, clutch, then shift with my good hand, the truck shook. I was patient on the gas, if I stalled they would finish me. I was getting out. I swore that if I was to die, I would die on the other side of the DMZ. I will not die here.
A small shard of the side-view mirror remained, held on by a small piece of plastic, and I could see one soldier running after me. I didn’t understand why. Why did he want me to stay there? With the food that made you sick? The forced work. The dishonesty that living for everyone but yourself was normal. The dishonesty that left a shell of a man. A robot trained to follow. Not me. Not me. Not me. Not…me…
When I woke I was in a white room, and a table. I ached all over, but it didn’t feel real. I was afraid to move. Then a face bent down. She had a name tag, and white coat.
“Rest” The voice was kind and calm. Not like the others had been. I smiled, inside myself, because my mouth couldn’t form a smile with the tube fixed there.
Then I thought about my family… and regret washed through me.
I got into the car and greeted my Uber driver.
“This is a nice Lexus,” I admired. “I was actually looking at this model when I was car shopping for my latest car.”
“What car did you buy?” he asked. He was a big-boned black guy with a deliberate speech that had an accent I could not place.
“I got a Honda Civic,” I answered.
There was silence, and I imagined him sorting the inconsistency between my choices.
“I liked this car,” I continued, “but it was too cramped for me.”
“Yes,” he said, knowingly. “I liked it. I bought it because I don’t have wife or family.”
He filled up the space of the driver’s area, but he looked comfortable sitting there.
“How old are you?” I asked.
“Twenty-eight,” he answered.
“You’ve got time,” I said. We rode on.
“How old are you?” he asked me.
“Forty-one,” I answered.
“Why aren’t you married?” he asked.
I paused before speaking. I liked his curiosity. No one had actually asked me that before.
“I like adventurous girls,” I answered. “But adventurous girls don’t like to settle down.”
“Yea,” he smiled. “Have fun while you can.”
Then he pulled over to my stop. He turned around and said carefully. “That is why I bought this car. You can have everything you want… if you plan.”
I nodded and opened the door. “You know it,” I said.
I got out and closed door and thought, ‘He does know it. Wiser than I was at his age. Or maybe just more confident in going after what he wanted without fear.’
Thanks to @streetartglobe for sharing.
Tax dollars going to agricultural corporations which use massive, highly efficient, hormone/ pesticide/antibiotic heavy operations which are helping to degrade our soil, water, and air. Not to mention the animal welfare issues.
Our responsibility in addressing this is simple: Buy from small, local farms or make animals a side dish instead of the main dish.
If we don’t change, we still have made a choice: To kick the can down the road for our children and grandchildren to pay the price.
Privileged positions of power don’t make you privileged to use that power over others.
With great power comes great responsibility.