Don’t be trapped by dogma.

No one wants to die, even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there, and yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you.

But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true. Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalogue, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stuart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 60’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form thirty-five years before Google came along.

I was idealistic, overflowing with neat tools and great notions. Stuart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalogue, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-70’s and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath were the words, “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” And I have always wished that for myself, and now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you. Stay hungry, stay foolish.

– Steve Jobs, from a commencement speech given at Stanford

The rat gets its due

Jim has been hearing a rat above his head, in the attic, for the last two weeks. With a tear in his eye, he set a non-lethal trap with a savory, delectable pile of meat. And so, leaping through the air like kids running towards a Christmas morning, we found the little rodent peeking it’s furry nose at us from within our cage of love.

“Free, we’re going to set him FREE!” Jim yells, and the dogs follow us to the grassy knoll in front of Matt’s house. It was beautiful, as angels sang and the little guy made a mad dash for his freedom.

Ah, who am I kidding? The dogs tore into that little rat bastard. They rocked it’s socks off, and I have never had as much respect for the animal kingdom as I had today, seeing a dead rat we had to pull away four ravenous dogs from.

The fall banquet

Being single again is strange. I’ve been running around, tripping over my own feet so much, it feels like I’m back in high school.

With the fall banquet coming up, I asked a friend in GrC if she’d like to go with me, given that it’s a “Prom” themed banquet (another reason to feel like high school again), and even though it was just a friendly thing…

man, was I nervous.

I swear, nerves are a little frayed. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving break more and more with every passing moment.

Foundation on Fire

Foundation on Fire

Christmas was a month ago,
but the apartment was decked in flame
when I found it. She had collapsed on the floor,
her eyes drizzling over her cheek
like useless fire sprinklers
making flat puddles that only reflect flames.

Can you walk? I screamed over the cackle
of the breaking doorframe.

Can you walk? ‘Cause I’m not going to be able
to carry you very far in this.
                    That’s nothing new.

And the downpour in her eyes alone could have
quenched this entire million-dollar insurance nightmare…
if she gave a damn.
But, she would say, not giving a damn is my speciality.

So, in protest, I threw myself against
the nearest burning doorway,
holding together what all first-graders in California know
is the strongest point in any house.

My feet crawled along the frame, my spine
playing the same game on the other side,
and I felt the wood bend like sweat curling
around my brow
straight for my eyes.

When you’re ready to leave this burning building,
I shouted, you go ahead and let me know.
                    Yeah? And maybe I’d rather
                    die here. Have you thought about that?

The truth was, the thought sat on my mind,
just like the entire condominium sat on my
shoulder blade, and my pained muscles
couldn’t help but feel we’ll all die here,
not far enough from a forecast
of evening showers
to justify dying any day.

    * * * *

A friend of a friend introduced us.
                    I think we’ve met before, she said.
                    I think a long time ago, we dove
                    from edges of pillows into
                    newspaper headlines
                    together every morning. When it rained outside,
                    you were the thunder and I the stream,
                    and we tumbled through the doorway
                    treading fingers in passion along my freckles.
                    I think we lost that somewhere along the way,
                    somewhere between me giving everything I had
                    and you leaving.

And while I was pretending
I couldn’t read all that from her embarrassed eyes,
I was just trying to remember her name.

In that instant,
it started to pour
a cloudburst over our chafing recollections,
and I offered my umbrella.

It was like a dance right then,
your face turned away and my lips forming
small talk I couldn’t sound out
over the drone of passing cars.
But I could swear I almost saw you smile

before the taxi ride
                    before the awkward proximity

before we collapsed, soaked on your couch
                    before we felt it come back

before I paid bills for two again
                    before my father died

before another awkward proximity
                    before you drifted away

and she left the heater on all night
because I was gone again.

    * * * *

The fire report would say it was a spark
leaping towards a gas line
that did us in —
the way we sometimes
leap toward each other and then explode.