Commencement

Dear Class of 2020,

Born in the late nineties and early 2000’s, your childhood and lives have been marked by September 11th, the birth of the iPhone, digital age, and social media, a recession, ongoing war, climate change, and the election of Trump. And, whether from college, high school, junior high or elementary school, you now find yourselves graduating in the midst of a pandemic and in a time unlike anything the world can remember.  Full of promise, looking out at what can only be described as a fairly bleak and grim landscape, here you are.  So, a bit of advice from an almost middle aged adult looking at her own life and telling herself the same.

Always take the trip. Choose the adventure. Buy the ticket. I’ve only ever regretted the trips I didn’t take.

Hug your parents, when you can.

Appreciate the good times as they are happening. Look up from your phones and devices. Moments of happiness are not the beginning of ongoing happiness, they are happiness and it is happening right now. It will pass and then come again. Don’t miss it*

*Always  remember that this too shall pass (the good and the bad).

Realize no one knows what is going on. You have just as much ability to become one of the “adults in the room” as anyone else does if you put your mind to it. Let this motivate  rather than scare you.

Find a hobby that feeds your soul. You never know when you will be locked in your house for nine weeks and need something that is fun, creative, or relaxing to fall back on.

Let go of the “rules” of how you thought it would be or how it should look. This is one that most people seem to finally realize in middle age, but the sooner you get there, the better for you!

Literally never take anything for granted ever, it could all change in the blink of an eye. Haircuts, toilet paper, child care, visits with family, nights out with friends, cozy restaurants, pedicures, school days, employment, sporting events, handshakes, dancing at concerts, graduation ceremonies, vacations, your health, having anything feel casual and relaxed, going to the movies, parades, amusement parks, swimming pools, job markets, saving accounts, museums, air travel………

My wish for you is that you see the beauty found here and now, as it unfolds, and appreciate it as it does; that your generation will never take anything for granted, always remembering how quickly everything can change; and that you never forget, even as you strive to move forward and upward in your own lives, how interconnected we all are.

I have faith in your generation and that the trials you have been given as young people and children will only serve to grow your creativity, compassion, motivation, ingenuity, and empathy. I’m sorry that previous generations are just learning these lessons now.

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Zero Sum, blah blah

IMG_7928

zero-sum, noun

: of, relating to, or being a situation (such as a game or relationship) in which a gain for one side entails a corresponding loss for the other side.

win-win, adjective

: advantageous or satisfactory to all parties involved.

Wowza!!! September.

I arrived back in New Mexico on Friday night, amid a fantastic electric thunder storm that lit up the night sky as we drove west on I-40. The smell of desert rain came through the vent as NPR played in the background. After not having slept well for about a month, and almost not at all for a week, I was on autopilot, willing myself to drive and arrive safely and to think about what comes next, later.

Everything felt completely familiar and totally different.

Listening to our President speak on NPR, I was almost jealous of his ignorant black and white view of the world. Jealous is the wrong word, but how nice it must be to live in a fabricated world of certainty where there is right and wrong and winners and losers, good/bad and never any grey or complication.

Moving back to New Mexico didn’t make LA any less cool in my mind. It didn’t make the things that worked for me there any less great, nor did it mean I’d never return.  Coming back to the beauty, familiarity, and ease of my home state, didn’t mean that the things that had previously annoyed me or felt small here would suddenly cease to do so. My love and annoyance with each could and would exist simultaneously.

paradox, noun

: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded and true.

In her book “You are a Badass. How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life,” author Jen Sincero writes about the idea of just seeing what you can get away with. Because that book, which I love (and which you will too), is still packed away with all of my other books, I’ll paraphrase; we are our own worst enemies in that we limit ourselves before giving ourselves a chance to even begin, by thinking of the ways in which something probably won’t work, so therefor why bother?

You want to work as little as possible and live as well as possible and travel and create things and do all of the stuff you want to do, when you want to do it? You basically want it all? Good luck!

Why thank you, yes. I do want it all. I want to be healthy and alive and vibrant and in so doing, inspire others to do/be the same, the way others have inspired me. I want to live where I want to live, work where/when I want to work, and stop believing that somehow this is asking too much.

My hairstylist in LA just moved to Oakland to become a baker. Several friends are going back to school. My neighbor in Albuquerque refuses debt of any sort and pays cash for everything; it’s taken him 15 years to fix up his 150 year old adobe home, but now it’s beautiful and he did it on his terms.

Who says that to have this, you can’t have that? Or to do this, you can’t do that? Bosses, teachers, advertisers, parents, banks, co-workers, and so many other voices that are not actually ours, or true, weasel their way into our brains and come out sounding like practical logic. Based on what? Other people’s fears or a company’s desire to sell you something?

I am going back to looking at the adventure of it all and asking Why Not when an idea pops into my mind. I refuse to believe that for this to work, that can’t work, or that win-win situations, in which we all come out ahead, are too idealistic. Let’s just see what we can get away with!

Photo taken on I-40 West, near Holbrook, AZ.

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