Thursday, May 19, 2011

but fear itself

I would like to take this moment to give everyone else the credit for this post. I had something very specific in mind that I was gonna post about, mainly apologizing for being behind on posting and commenting, followed by a little bit of the blame game on Blogger for throwing up on the only two days last week that I actually had time to post, and then following it up by giving you guys some spiffy updates on what I've been up to.

But then I read my dear friend Robin's letters to her father who has probably less than two weeks to live. And I read my best friend Alyssa's post about how her sixth graders fear that this Saturday will be the end of the world and how frustrated that makes her feel. So this is what I came up with instead, because instead of telling you what I wanted to say, I listened to what some of you might like to hear.

Despite what the news these days might try to convince you of, fear is not a new thing. Oh, no. Fear has been around for hundreds of thousands of years. Millions, if you think back to probably how terrified the little itty bitty dinosaurs were of the really really big dinosaurs. Fear is what kept us in our caves during lightening storms thousands of years ago, fear is what kept us from eating that bright red plant that turned out to be poisonous hundreds of years ago, fear is what keeps us from running naked in traffic (fear on more than one level on that last one, if we're gonna be honest. I am not brave enough to jog naked.) Fear keeps us alive, keeps us alert, keeps us safe.

But fear has a season. It has an expiration date, it has a time and place where it is no longer needed and no longer useful and IT EXPIRED YESTERDAY. We have lived with fear for so long that these days we breathe it and think it's air. And then we wonder why we're choking. We find it normal to be afraid, possibly even wise, and we exist in such a constant state of fear that it controls the way we think and move and breathe. And all the ways that we DON'T think, or move, or breathe. All the ways that we just stare, like a deer caught in the headlights, and read the doom and gloom of a society and a world that would keep us afraid for the sheer fact that we PAY THEM to keep us afraid. You and I subscribe every day, line up for it, give us this day our daily fear, and when we run out of things to be afraid of we create more things to be afraid of. Give me the number of terrorists you think we should kill before you start to feel safe again and I will show you what fear really is. Tell me the number of people in your neighborhood whom you wish worshiped and looked the same as you and I will show you what fear really is.

Because fear is a bottomless well that you are dumping your food into and then waiting beside it, starving, for the bones to be spat back up. And when nothing happens, when you still do not feel safe or full, you start pouring yourself into that well, until there is nothing left of you but emptiness.

It's tempting to think that the world is chaotic, dark, troubling and, yes, perhaps ending. That things are getting worse, that the greedy are getting greedier and the poor are getting poorer. But being afraid or angry doesn't make these things go away. Fear doesn't offer solutions, and it doesn't bring us closer together. You think the nut who came up with the idea that the Rapture is on May 21st did it so that we could all come together as one, so we can all learn how to love each other and accept each universally, regardless of nationality, sexual orientation, religious creed, race, or sex? Do you think this guy wants peace on earth?

No. He doesn't. He's not interested in the least. Because last of all, but never to be forgotten, is that fear has an agenda. It will fight to keep you looking only at the surface of things so that you forget to live your life, so that you stop seeing, really SEEING, people. It will fight to keep you locked indoors all day and suspicious of others. It will fight to keep you fighting with so many others, others that you could just as easily love.

Love is the most amazing gift we are given, and the choices we make are what define us. Love in the face of fear is what sends us across borders and across cultural lines, it's what lets us treat homeless people like humans and lets us write beautiful, incredibly strong letters to our parents in their last days. It lets us carry our strength inside us, our faith, and keeps us connecting with each other when it feels like all hope is gone.

Love is what not only lets us live in the face of fear, but also helps us overcome it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


5 events I am totally looking forward to in the next few weeks:

5. Houdini exhibit at the Skirball

4. Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA

3. Mother's Day picnic on Sunday with the family

2. Going to Magic Mountain

1. My friend Anthony's comic book signing next Wednesday

(yes, I'm aware most of those events were definitely nerdy in nature)

4 things I recently bought and I could not BE happier:

4. I'm not a purse person, having bought exactly two in my life, but here's the purse I just bought and I am in LOVE. I never thought I'd like an inanimate object so much in my life.

3. These four Beatles prints. They are gorgeous, and I find it hilarious how clearly they show just how useless Ringo Starr really was to the Beatles. Benni and I found album frames at a craft store and hung them up in our dining room, over our record player (Vinyl FTW!)

2. Tank tops from Target. They are $8 and they go with everything. I don't think I need to explain this one much more...

1. $1.29 daffodils from Trader Joe's. How many times can you say that something you spent a $1.29 on made you blissfully happy for an entire week? But flowers just do that.

of the best things I have read lately:

3. The Happiness Hypothesis - amazing, incredible, very non-new Agey, very practical and scientific exploration of happiness. Best book I've read in a very long time.

2. A Short History of Nearly Everything - hysterical, makes science absolutely fascinating, and makes you giddy just to be alive.

1. This commencement speech by David Foster Wallace, which is heartrendingly beautiful and inspiring and I try to read at least once a week. (It's floating around the internet under the title This is Water)

1 funny story about LA:

I'm sitting in my car in downtown Hollywood, waiting for the light to turn green, when a homeless man carrying a sign that says "Love One Another" ambles over to my open window. I'm not going to be rude, and I have a strict policy of treating homeless people like humans, so I smile as he comes up to my car.
"Excuse me, ma'am, do you have a hundred dollars you could spare?" he asks, eyes kind and smiling. I burst out laughing. Surely he knows how ridiculous this is, right?
"No," I said. "I'm sorry. I have no hundred dollar bills to give you today."
"That's okay," he says, still grinning. "I'll take a fifty if you have one."
Again, I crack up. "Nope, no fifty's either."
He shuffles from foot to foot and pretends to look confused. "How about a gift card to Best Buy?" he asks. By this time we're both laughing.
I look him straight in the eye and tell him, "Man, if I had a Best Buy gift card to give you, I honestly would."
"Next time," he says, and we fist bump, and all the other people in all the other cars can see me laughing and are rolling down their windows to give him money and the sun is shining and life, life my friends, is very, very good.
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