Q: Ok, so if you could start of by describing yourself for me, both physically and emotionally.
A: Ok, um, that’s kind of an interesting question because I was literally… I had a thought along these lines as I was walking down the hall. So, yeah, I’m 5’9″ about 165lbs. forty years old, in really good shape for a 40-year-old I think, but when I think on that part of me the word “good” comes up; I’m not great, I’m not an Adonis, I’m not old and decrepit, I’m “good”. I feel good, I think I look good, so I’m good and that’s sort of my overall status, if you will.
Q: And emotionally?
A: Y’know um… emotionally 99% of my day is spent very very happy, I had a childhood that I could use as a reason to be a terrible person, I had a some remnants of issues from my time in [Out of country location] that I could have gotten hung up on and I’ve always been able to move past them, my mother was always one that asked the question, “Is what’s happening to you right now something that’s contributing to who you are or is it who you are?” And I’ve always believed that these are experiences that are a little bit of who I am so it’s always put me in a good position to never hold on to the negative. So most days, 99% of the time, that’s exactly where I’m at, [my spouse and I] were talking about this the other day that this year is what we’ve been sort of calling “the new year” Y’know, new house, new car, new dog, new responsibilities at work, new neighborhood, new school for the kids, so I’m still very much in this overwhelming vibe of newness and happiness and I keep encountering these situations in my life where I can’t believe how far I’ve come. There’s something about me, where I’ve always connected happiness with how I’m doing financially, and not in regards to how much money is in the bank account or how much money’s in my wallet, but is money currently a difficulty, is it something I have to overcome, is it something I have to work around, and right now we’re at a place in our lives where I don’t have to worry about money anymore, for the first time ever; and it’s odd that money can’t buy happiness, but not worrying about money allows for happiness. So, yeah, 99% of the time, emotionally I’m good, I’m right where I want to be, I’m in love with my life.
Q: Tell me about the earliest memory you can think of.
A: The earliest memory I have, I was a very young child and I wasn’t talking. The words I was able to use were inhibited by a pretty serious speech impediment. So my mom had concerns, she thought I was a bright child, she really couldn’t see any reason why I couldn’t be talking. so she took me to the doctor for a regular checkup and there’s a muscle that holds your tongue onto the bottom of your mouth, actually I should say it’s more like a tendon, and for some people that tendon is too long, it’s too far forward toward the tip of the tongue and keeps the tongue from properly actuating during speech, and I had that. And it’s something that’s supposed to be picked up on within six months, so that when you go in and trim it you’re too young to remember it and it allows your tongue to properly function and you can speak. Well, this was overlooked and I remember, I had to have been 18 months old, I don’t remember being that old but my mom has told me that’s how old I was, going to this doctors office, being forced to sit in a chair, screaming at the top of my lungs and having that tendon cut; that is my first memory. I remember the color of his shirt, I remember the wallpaper, I know the area of [name of city] where his office was; my mom will swear up and down that there is no way I should remember that but that is the first thing I remember.
Q: Tell me one thing that you’ve done in your life that you’re proud of.
A: I left highschool very closed-minded, very conservative, and if I’m honest, very racist; and I’ve had a collection of experiences since that time that have shown me that many of those beliefs were wrong and I have set out on my own to remedy that. I feel that I’ve become a pretty open-minded, accepting, welcoming individual who overcame a lot of his upbringing; to become a pretty well-rounded happy person who has wonderful people in his life because of how open I’ve been and how welcoming I attempt to be. I fought through a lot of the stuff that I went through as a child, just bad ways, bad ways of seeing people [who] were just riddled with othering and separation and once I became aware of the fact that I was that type of person, I set out to fix that and then fixed it, and I’m very proud of that, it has led to a lot of happiness in my life.
Q: What does hate look like to you.
A: I have two words that I don’t let my children use: “can’t” and “hate”
I believe that hate… I hesitate to say that hate is power, but hate is a word within our society, especially within our species, that no matter what we attempt to do to take the power away it retains such force and such control and such power. So many bad things have been done under that label and so many good things have been done because of that label: hatred. But it looks like… singularity. Hate looks like a question that only has one answer and if that answer isn’t precise and verbatim and all the spelling is correct and exact punctuation, then you’re wrong and can never be right. And if you have the epitome or the center of what humanity is and what humanity is capable of, what it should be, then [hate] is at the very very opposite end of that spectrum, that scale. I think the worst thing that humans have ever done to one another is to separate themselves from each other, based on any criteria. Hate is usually somewhere wrapped within those separations. It’s either a result of those separations or a cause of those separations. Separating ourselves from other humans is the worst thing we can do to ourselves. And that’s what hate is to me, it’s something we use to separate ourselves from the rest of mankind.
Q: If you could say anything, Anonymously, to a large group of people what would you say?
[45 seconds of silence]
A: I don’t know… that’s a hard question…
I’m so wrapped up in myself that I have a hard time looking beyond that. But I do, kind of returning to one of your other questions. I do have moments in my life where I’m constantly seeking reasons to be down on myself and when I come to the honest reasons of why I’m doing that, those reasons aren’t me, it comes from somewhere else. I’ve struggled so much with that, about where my thoughts come from, why they’re there, why I give them the weight and the force that I give them. When I find out that it’s coming from this experience or that experience or this person or that person I become ashamed that I’ve allowed myself to be so heavily influenced by stuff that has nothing to do with me anymore. So I guess if I had to say something to a large group of people anonymously, I always approach a question like that from the stance of giving to others. So I don’t know what the exact words would be but it would be something similar to: find a way to live for others by truly living for yourself. I lived a long time making decisions based on what I thought my mother wanted, my grandfather wanted, my father wanted, all the people in my life who wanted me to be and any time I strayed from that I felt so selfish. Then, in my early twenties, I discovered that the more selfish I was the more I made my life, my decisions, about my happiness and me, I put myself in a better position to be a better friend, a better partner, a better human. The more I lived for me, the more able I was to live a life that benefitted others, not just myself. So I don’t know what that is, I don’t know what that statement would look like or even sound like but I would try to tell people to use selfishness to generate empathy, sympathy, compassion, and connection.