Tag Archives: Adolescence Interrupted

A Point of no return

A stopwatch thumb clicking down to zero. We are hurtling toward an impossible recovery window, and the fate of the future rests in the hands of the next anointed leader of the free world.

Partisanship aside, that’s a terrifying concept. If we slide our chips to the center of the table, is the action anything more than a clenched-jaw “wing and a prayer” blindfolded dart toss?

Stakes are impossibly high, and we are sprinting along the edge of an unfinished bridge. Hands clasped tightly over ears, there is an absurd reluctance to embrace the inevitability of fate beneath the towering mountain of science playing the crucial part of a canary in the coal mine.

So do we choose to be silent observers or screaming warriors? Should we take a pass or take a swing? Regret is a nasty little rash, so some active engagement might prevent a life of head-swimming insomnia or a ceaseless swarm of butterflies in the belfry.

Sitting on the sidelines is not an option when the planet’s very survival hangs in the balance. Unfortunately, the countless species of creatures who continue to be affected by the savage stripping and polluting of their homes still lack the opposable thumbs needed to pull those levers in a voting booth.

They’re counting on you to do what’s right. We all are.

Adolescence Interrupted

Everything New Is Old Again

Novelty is a nasty little trick. Senses excited by the freshness and originality of the unknown, untested, or unused soon face the harsh reality that anything shiny will ultimately lose its sheen.

This goes well beyond the new coat, car, college, or company. Brainwashed from year one by an onslaught of marketing ploys to convince us we are never fully whole, we crave the latest, most advanced modern marvel promising to ease our pain, simplify our lives, and save us time.

Leave the heavy lifting to automation, so we can stockpile precious seconds to spend on screens and devices built by the same companies promising (and selling) the fantasy of tangible untethering.

With each day that passes, the new becomes old, and the old is discarded. A cycle of inattention, lack of focus, and rampant consumerism has become a cyclone, and it’s destroying everything in its path.

A counterargument proposes the merits of our impressive adaptability. We are a dynamic species, exhibiting a high proficiency for transformation and reconstruction. Ready to spring back to standing after every takedown, humans tend to face a fight or challenge without allowing buckled knees to shake us into a sense of inaction.  We simply find ways to justify the new normal.

Shoes are off at the airport. Masks are on in the stores.

But the belief that tomorrow will present some gift that today is unable to wrap creates a dangerous habit of sacrificing the now for the then.

There isn’t always something waiting around the next corner. Sometimes it’s just an empty sidewalk.

Adolescence Interrupted

Deserted Island of the Mind

Thoughts lost in isolation. A time for healing. A time for self-reflection. But we cross a collective threshold when those finger-wagging mirrors hover close to grimaced faces for far too long. Is there a limit to this period of limitless wondering, wandering? The escape valves are useless if constantly void of steam, and the wrinkles in society’s fabric are growing more difficult to ignore.

Sitting with sandcastle carvings in the shape of an SOS, eager for a glimpse of dropped rope ladders, descending from the heavens and offering a haven. Crossing fingers and toes that the cure won’t be worse than the disease and putting faith in the hands of the senseless. Clocking days on the calendar, desperately hunting for dissimilarities. Masks masking everything we’d actually like to express.

We’re dizzy from riding a spinning misery-go-round, searching for keys to the cage, and losing focus behind unblinking eyes.

The aftermath of bad decisions. This is nature’s revenge, and she’s not pleased with our choices.

Will anyone wake up to the call? Change what they consume? Evaluate how they think? Cease the irresponsible behaviors that are crippling the planet? Recognize the risk of heavy feet on pedals with cliffs fast approaching? Consider the greater good above the personal gain?

Time will tell…if she’s willing to speak. But silence might be a better teaching tool for a population unable to hear.

Adolescence Interrupted

Unclog the Drain

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others.”    —Dalai Lama

A country cowering in the corner of a storm drain and hiding from the impending hurricane by practicing almost unfathomable acts of social irresponsibility and shortsighted selfishness is a nation ripe for ridicule and condemnation by its global neighbors.

Sadly, the current pandemic is merely the pinpoint tip of an iceberg with titanic frozen roots, sitting at a depth scraping the seabed. Placing every pressing issue in the back seat of a brakeless car fueled by a narrow focus on some imaginary, concocted finish line—solely to benefit personal desires or ambitions—is beyond dangerous. It’s deadly.

We are reluctantly reaping what we’ve sown, regretting our batch and wishing we buried a different seed. But this toxic crop is precisely what we deserve, and the consequences of our actions have taken the shape of daily force-fed attrition.

Diseased, tortured Frankensteinian animals mass-produced as sustenance and left alone to rot in cages. Stock market manipulation to pack the pockets of people least deserving of the spoils. Blatant refusal to don masks at the expense of vulnerable elderly lungs desperately trying to survive a cloud of venomous vapor.

Every individual act of toe-shooting defiance is just a bullet in the head of the greater good.

Maybe you’ll be rescued by a vaccine. Maybe you won’t.

But patterns played out over time eventually lead to concrete, unchangeable results. If we continue to walk a path of least resistance—protecting our self-interests above those of the collective—and stunt the organic flow of nature’s blueprint, we will be met with far fiercer foes than coronaviruses.

We are not left without choice or free will, so selecting selfishness above selflessness is an insensitive slap in the face of humanity.

There will be debts to pay tomorrow for what is spent today.

Adolescence Interrupted

Life and Loss

A terrifying concept of personal psychological hell states, “On your last day on Earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.”  —Anonymous

This could be read as a simple warning to keep carpe diem on the top of the list, or a friendly injunction not to squander talents or time.

But in this moment of global uncertainty and personal panic, perhaps the message is much simpler at its base. The clock on the wall that seemed to run on solar power is really just a parasitic imposter, suckling at the teat of a couple of old Duracells.

The days, weeks, and months are disappearing at an alarmingly unsettling rate. We are relinquishing the reins precisely when the horse needs our help to find his footing. But this is not a roller coaster that ends when our eyes finally open, and there is no waiting on the sidelines until things return to “normal.”

People are going to continue to die, and we need to prepare for the weight of that loss. There is an emotional heft in the acknowledgment that so much could have been prevented and so many lives could have been saved.

We are a selfish, shortsighted, and dangerously myopic society. Unwilling to sacrifice our petty personal “freedoms” for the greater good of our most vulnerable citizens will ceaselessly drive these infection rates and further delay any notion of achieving even a remotely flattened curve.

We’ll keep striding into crowded restaurants and bars without masks, and pretend this is all some overblown hoax designed by imaginary foreign foes (or local liberals) to keep us incarcerated in some oppressive fairytale prison of our own creation.

Wake up. Mask up. Shut up.

You’re ridiculous and ignorant to believe your life has any more value than another’s. Putting your foot down in refusal is merely flattening the gravesite soil.

Adolescence Interrupted

Tracking the Footprints

As a white American male, perhaps I am the least likely disseminator of racially sensitive information. But we are all sick of the suffering, tired of the mistreatment, and finished with forgiveness.

Enough is beyond enough.

Destruction of property, acts of violence, arson, or vigilante intimidation tactics should never take the place of peaceful protests. But there are moments in history when lasting change was not brought about by signs and songs.

It was demanded with muskets and malice.

We are watching the very first steps of a revolution waiting in the wings, primed for a spark. The tea kettle has long been whispering for attention, and now it’s boiling over.

But I am merely an ally and proponent for justice. The final word rightly belongs to the innocent men whose lives were disgustingly, vindictively extinguished without reason, justification, or rationale by heartless, racist cowards.

“Why do you have your guns out?”  —Kenneth Chamberlain, 66

“What are you following me for?”  —Trayvon Martin, 16

“I didn’t even do nothing.”  —Samuel DuBose, 43

“Shoot me now. Kill me now.”  —Kajieme Powell, 25

“I love you too.”  —Sean Bell, 23

“It’s not real.”  —John Crawford, 22

“Why did you shoot me?”  —Kendrec McDade, 19

“Mom, I’m going to college.”  —Amadou Diallo, 23

“I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.”  —Michael Brown, 18

“Please don’t let me die.”  —Kimani Gray, 16

“You shot me. You shot me!”  —Oscar Grant, 22

“I can’t breathe.”  —Eric Garner, 43

“Mama!”  —George Floyd, 46

Adolescence Interrupted

A Generation Modified

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”    —Jiddu Krishnamurti

Life locked behind windows and doors.

A new reality. A new planet. A new challenge.

An opportunity to do it right this time.

Developing minds are being asked to trade outside stimuli and ordinary social interactions for a brief glimpse at grandma on a small, shaking screen or distracted learning from remote educators saddled with unfair expectations and dwindling patience for throwing blindfolded darts at moving targets.

Still, the anti-quarantine protests and a deadly desire to dive back into “normal” life dominate the headlines. If we were all in mutual agreement with some widely accepted notion that the world we constructed was normal, I think it’s time for a better blueprint.

The growing chasm of wealth disparity is threatening to hobble established empires, the planet’s resources are irresponsibly plundered to fill the coffers of selfishly shortsighted puppet masters of profit, and we remain numb to the impending downfall by affixing our eyeballs to screens that constantly, cleverly administer just enough dope (and dopamine) to keep us begging for the chance to be repeat customers.

But there is hope. The next generation has a bullshit detector the likes of which we’ve never seen, and it won’t bow at the altar of blind acquiescence. It is deeply feeling the effects of this pandemic, and that code is being imprinted and branded on impressionable, malleable mental motherboards. Lessons for the future are being ingested in the present.

Those in power better seize this final opportunity to blatantly misallocate vital financial resources, sacrifice the sick who are too scared, too poor, or too alone to save themselves, and take one last lap around that privileged scotch circle. Your cigar-stained fingers are raising a glass in celebration of your own demise.

Adolescence Interrupted

My World Never Feels Safe…And Now I’m Right

The roads are all lined with eggshells. Tiptoes and feather steps, thinking back to a time when sidewalk cracks were the only items on a list of things to avoid.

Leaving a house full of physical walls to venture outside into a world of imaginary ones is a nasty little mind trick to navigate.

For many years I have maintained some semblance of sanity by following a specific series of patterns, habits, and concocted restrictive rules to live among the “normals,” and do my best to blend. Now, everyone else has systems, and there’s just too much competing static to cut clean s-curves without a face full of powder.

Monkey bar-swinging from one brain surgery to the next has saddled this lanky lad with a backpack full of trauma, and it’s a daily challenge to keep those shoulders back. But when that carefully calibrated balance is disrupted, and uncontrollable variables are added to the recipe, the already-crispy cookies in the oven tend to emerge blackened and burned.

If the personal side effects of this historic snapshot are nothing more than increased worry, discomfort, and agitation, I will consider myself incredibly lucky. Countless victims of this global tidal wave would gladly trade everything for a little increased anxiety.

Nervousness is temporary. Asphyxiation is not.

This is Chapter One. We are wading into dangerous waters, and we’re not even waist-deep. Stay vigilant. Stay clean. Stay supported.

Stay safe.

Adolescence Interrupted

The Heart Beneath the Hat

People are more than the jobs they perform.

As a society, we have an unfortunate tendency to categorize by cramming into prejudicially assigned boxes the core essence of a stranger based on the task, project, or career stream he or she happens to be swimming in at the moment.

We look past the person, and only see the uniform, hat, or badge. But a face full of green makeup doesn’t make you Frankenstein, and much to the chagrin of a nation full of six-year-old Halloween candy hunters, strapping a red cape to your collar won’t help you take flight.

This is not to say that we can’t or shouldn’t take pride in the duties that drive the majority of our days. Embracing an impetus to help make this planet a safer, kinder, cleaner, and more compassionate space meteor is noble work, and that grand goal can be accomplished in myriad ways.

But our hearts do not beat in militant metronomic rhythm to the clicks of an analog time clock. Our spirits soar when we leave a little space for syncopation.

The next time you stroll past the invisible clerk, avoid eye contact at the counter, or disregard a service rendered, take a second to see the soul beneath the suit.

We’re all just candy hunters, sliding on temporary masks and searching for the right fit.

Adolescence Interrupted

Goodbye, NY

After a post-LA six-month stint in the Empire State, it’s time again to gather the tape guns, construct the itinerary, and head for unfamiliar waters. It’s Groundhog Day, with an unpredictable finish.

Three cities in thirty weeks. Coast to coast and climate to climate. Another fresh start, with even fewer friends.

Multilayered introspection is crucial for any deep-dive system reset, and we are all lone conductors of our own orchestras.  The only constant in life is change, but I’m ready for a little consistency following the chaos.

Gleaning lessons from the past year’s pattern upheaval, the most eye-opening realization has been how capable humans are of acclimation. I consider myself fairly entrenched in the spongy, bouncy comfort foam of routine and ritual. But I have been thrown more than my fair share of curveballs in this game, and I’ve generally been able to hang in the batter’s box longer than the rest of the rookies.

Most of us are malleable and adaptable creatures, even those who think a rigid adherence to track-walking is the only thing that keeps their marbles from getting misplaced. When presented with a series of seemingly insurmountable challenges, flexibility is usually found somewhere in the fabric. We just need the courage and desire to search.

So the quest continues…

Chasing the sun, I’m headed for the land of tennis fanatics and retirement enthusiasts. It was an interesting last lap in a hometown that feels very little like home. But it was necessary to put a bow on the gift of growing up and to capture those mental snapshots for a future nostalgic slideshow.

Time to turn another page in a book that remains to be written.

Adolescence Interrupted