Why The New Star Wars Movie Means So Much

School basically sucked.

Maybe it was the almost cinematic brutality of Catholic school, the perceived oppressive and sinister nature of the Catholic religion, or a pretty intense undiagnosed anxiety disorder, mixed with the awkwardness of growing up which I had absolutely no skills to handle.

There was a nun who dug sharp pointed fingernails into my scalp if I got math problems wrong. She could throw an elbow at a kid’s head nasty enough to impress a Thai boxer as she walked through the rows of fourth graders. This was discipline. This was managing a class with fear. There was the shouting and the shaming. And I remember sitting behind my best friend as he pissed his pants because you could only use the bathroom during lavatory time.

Add all that to the mean-spiritedness that children foist upon each other as they’re first developing their identities and learning how to navigate the world socially, and you get trauma.

In any case, the one thing I had to get me through this time in my life was Star Wars.

Yes, it’s true, even if that seems silly or trite.

Star Wars gave me a way to evade my life. As a student of Buddhism today, I realize that retreat from reality is rarely a healthy goal. Still, the benefits of escaping the madness at that time cannot be understated.

VHS players were starting to show up in most American homes, which meant you could tape your favorite movies on cable channels like Home Box Office.

Of course I taped Star Wars.

And escape I did, at every possible moment. In math class, I’d daydream and create galactic adventures in my head. I learned I could totally disconnect from my environment and travel to that Galaxy far, far away whenever I wanted.

That’s not always a great skill to have. I never did learn much math. But I was learning some important things via George Lucas’ space epic. Things one would think I should have been learning in a private school, a place where I was instead learning how not to anger my handlers.

Star Wars taught me about honor. It taught me about discipline, and introduced me to the idea of the peaceful warrior. I learned about kindness, empathy and not taking advantage of someone just because I might be stronger or more powerful than them. I learned that fear leads to anger and anger leads to the dark side.

I learned about justice, right and wrong, good versus evil, and how it’s important to seek out those wiser than myself to help me navigate the world. I learned about redemption and how a villain still may have a spark of goodness in them. I learned that sometimes you have to take chances and put everything on the line. And how, if everyone works together toward a common goal, anything is possible.

I learned that the battles we wage are sometimes within ourselves, that you should never leave a true friend behind, and that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

There are those that point out that the themes and archetypes in the Star Wars films were not new or particularly visionary. But that doesn’t really matter. The original trilogy was a brilliant delivery system. It brought these ideas to me and so many others.

This is one of the reasons that I think the new movie, to be released on December 18th, 2015, is so important. And in my opinion, at this time in our culture, this time of extreme corporate greed, corrupt politicians, and a shocking disregard for the welfare of our fellow human beings, this may be the only place that some young ones learn about honor, compassion, and justice.

And I hope that J.J. Abrams’ film can live up to that. I know it’s a lot to ask.

But in any case, it’s really fun right now to join in the hype of the new picture, to clamor over trailers, and watch the interviews with the cast. It sort of feels like coming home.

Welcome back to the big screen, Star Wars.

I’ve missed you.

Dealing With People Who Let Me Down

Today, I wish I had more middle fingers.

And a cake made of Xanax and optimism.

Because lately I seem to be managing one crisis after another. And also being let down by people that I really thought I could depend on.

And people do let us down, don’t they? They change the rules, change their minds, or change the nature of relationships with zero regard for anyone else’s wellbeing.

They break promises, and deals, and sometimes expect us to just be okay with it.


It’s a fifty gallon bucket full of suck, shock, and heartache.

And I think it feels worse when the person who lets me down is a friend and a business partner. Because not only do their actions and decisions impact me emotionally, but financially as well.

And that’s the tricky part. Am I not supposed to go into business with friends? Am I not supposed to become friends with someone I’m working with? Is that the thing?

I don’t know.

Sometimes I find it helpful to think an offending person acted out of ignorance rather than malice.

Then at least I don’t hate them.

Because let’s face it, there’s plenty of sleepwalking, selfish, maladjusted people in this world. There’s plenty of people living a life of suffering, making decisions and interacting from a place of extreme pain. And to think of them as walking around in the trance of their own importance helps me keep my own behavior in check and not make matters worse.

Because it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to fantasize about them being kidnapped by a dragon and flown off to a far away land so I don’t have to deal with them.

That’s fine. It’s just not okay to pay the dragon to kidnap them.

It’s okay to want to grab them and shake them and say, “What the hell is the matter with you?!?! When did you become such a villain!?!?

It’s just not okay to do it.

Because I can’t control what happens to me, not really. I can’t control how people treat me. And some people will treat me just plain awful.

The one place where I have some control is in how I respond to them.

Maybe I wait 24 hours before answering an email, just to give things some space. Maybe I don’t pick the phone until I’m good and ready and feeling centered. Maybe I practice kindness toward them, as I would a sick dog that bites me out of fear.

Maybe I have to just suffer through our last necessary or contractually obligated interactions with grace, knowing that at least I’ll get to move on soon. And then this person will no longer have such an impact on my life.

Sometimes, that’s all I get.

Why I Practice Kindness

Trying to change someone’s mind might just makes things worse.

So I’m really trying to practice pausing during difficult interactions. This way, I can respond instead of react. And more than that, I get to decide HOW I want to respond.

In the moments where I remember this practice, I have greater choice in what I say or do. I also get the opportunity to say or do nothing at all if that’s what I feel is appropriate.

It’s not always easy, especially when I believe that I’m right and the other person is so very, clearly wrong.

It’s 1 million times more difficult when it feels like a person is intentionally disregarding my feelings to pursue their own agenda.

In those situations, it can be helpful to assume ignorance instead of maliciousness. This helps create the space that I’m taking about, the space to respond without losing my temper and acting like a jerk face.

Because some people really are just ignorant, misguided, inexperienced, or uninformed.

And I know what you’re thinking. Some people are malicious, and mean, and interested only in their own gains. But pausing and practicing kindness gives me the opportunity to evaluate the situation and eventually distance myself from a person if that’s what makes sense.

And of course, there have been times when I’ve paused, that I find out that I was wrong and the other person was right.

Imagine that!


Sometimes the best I can do is practice kindness and ride this shit out.

Why It’s Okay To Do Nothing

I woke up today and started planning the most amazing vacation ever.

And then I remembered that I don’t like to do stuff.

I really don’t.

And I think plenty of people plan vacations every year out of habit or routine. We spend money that puts us further into debt and the vacations aren’t that fun anyway. Of course we create some great photos for Facebook or Instagram, but it’s all for show. We vacation because we think we should, or because we always have, or because our parents, or neighbors, or friends do it.

“We are going to have fun! Damn it!”

That’s the sort of vacation thinking that permeates a lot of these trips.

But many of us don’t don’t have fun, not really. We drag along our own anxieties and neurosis that we deal with at home. And we drag along the kids, or significant others, or some other people to bicker with when the inevitable stresses of traffic, airline delays, and sleep deprivation break us.

We also bring along impossibly high expectations that no experience or location could ever live up to.

I don’t know how this got started. Maybe it began in the 1950’s as part of the American Dream, when people had two weeks paid vacation every year and would go to the seashore, or the Grand Canyon, or something.

And I don’t want to poop on everyone’s vacation. If it brings actual joy, then it’s worth it no matter the cost. If it doesn’t, if it’s just habit, then why do it?

And for those of us that love time to just sit, that’s okay too. It really is.

I’ll just be hanging out with this guy.

Having fun. Damn it.

Do You Recognize Your Talents?

Here’s my personal inventory…

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Steal This Wisdom

Life is bigger than me.

It’s true.

And life doesn’t give a damn if I’m happy. It doesn’t give a damn if I’m sad.

It doesn’t care if there’s riots in the streets of my hometown. It doesn’t care if I’m binging Madmen on Netflix.

Life doesn’t care if I’m a success or a failure.

It doesn’t care if I feel alone.

Life just is. And I don’t think it’s here for any reason except to be here.

There’s going to be earthquakes, and blizzards, and California will probably run out of water. There’s going to be beautiful summer days, and hurricanes, and crisp December nights with the twinkling of Christmas lights. (Do be sure to take those lights down by the end of January. Okay? Thanks!)

There’s going to be FREAKING TRAFFIC!

But there’s also going to be straight, open roads where I feel the freedom to roll down the windows, let the breeze and the sunshine touch me, and completely disregard the speed limit. Yeah!

Loved ones will leave. And babies will be born. And I’ll probably continue to be completely blown away by the fact that my brother is now someone’s dad. I’m positive he’ll be great at it. And I’m sure he’ll really dig it.

And I’ll hold close to my heart the time, so very long ago, when he fell asleep on my floor after an evening of carousing and my iguana slept on his face.

That was funny.

And we all get a chance to be young, but most of us waste it. We get old so quickly. I’m telling you, younglings, we do.

If I’d have known that, really known that, I’d have enjoyed my hair more when it was thick and kick ass. I’d have experimented with different hairstyles.

And dyed it blue.

I’d have dated a certain acquaintance’s ex girlfriend. Because twenty years later, none of that means anything anymore.

Maybe, life is about learning.

So I leave you today, dear readers, with some gems of caffeine-induced wisdom.

1.) Praying or well-wishing is a nice gesture. So is buying a homeless guy gloves and preventing frostbite.

2.) The Buddha said, “Existence is unsatisfactoriness.” But he failed to mention that it’s made better by living with a dog.

3.) We all have our own truths and there’s never any good reason to compromise on them. Any time I have, I’ve suffered.

4.) Right and wrong are mostly subjective. But compassion, that’s a real thing.

Until next time, keep your head in the stars and keep reaching for your feet.


The Most Valuable Advice Is Sometimes None At All

Asking me for relationship advice is like asking me to command a starship.

Actually, I’d be better with the starship.

As far as relationships go, I could parrot stuff wise people have told me, stuff I’ve read in books, or quote romantic lines from movies.

But I’m no expert on love.

I mean, I’m not in a relationship now, and I’ve never been married.

Seems silly to ask me for advice, eh?

I’ve got some skills and tips to help someone make it through an anxiety attack or a total friggin’ meltdown.

I can teach you some stuff about drumming, or martial arts, or meditation.

I’ve even got some badass recipes for easy vegan soups.

But I received an email just the other day from a reader who was asking my advice, or if I’d written any posts that could pertain to his current situation. It seems he’s been in a 15 month relationship with someone he loves, but has found someone new, younger, and sexier.

He mentioned that his current girlfriend is too “tame” in the bedroom and that when he tries to talk to her about it, she gets defensive. He feels really despondent about his needs not being met. His relationship with his girlfriend is otherwise good, but he’s in total lust with the new, much younger woman.

I really wanted to give this guy some mind-blowing advice. I wanted to sit down and create a post about communication, or something about the grass is always greener, or the challenges of dating someone 17 years younger.

Or, I could’ve reminded him that women aren’t mere sexual objects for his gratification.

I could’ve gotten on my soapbox about how he ought to be thankful that someone wants to be in a relationship with him and how everyone’s eyes wander occasionally. That’s part of being human. It’s perfectly natural and okay. But it doesn’t have to be acted on.

And in many, many cases, it shouldn’t be.

But I didn’t write any of those things. Instead, I pulled a Dr Drew and responded to his email suggesting that he talk to a professional therapist or counselor. Maybe together they could work out what he should do. Or, maybe they could look at his thoughts and feelings towards women or relationships in general.

Because that guy was suffering. And Life is full of it. Judging or criticizing each other isn’t helpful, even if they are doing things or living a life that I don’t agree with or understand. And I think one of the worst things we can do, besides judging, is giving unqualified advice.

Now, if I only had a starship.