How the hell are you happy?

Twice in the last two days I’ve been asked how it is that I’m so happy. My response was a little bit simplistic but basically true for me, I said that I’m happy because I “moved out of DC, use ecstasy, ignore the state, and get laid”. I’m not recommending those steps for anyone else to be happy but the basic concept has worked well for me.

Moved out of DC: When I lived in Washington DC I was unhappy. I didn’t like the city at all. I had some good friends there but the weather, culture, and environment was awful. Washington DC is a city where dreams go to die and good intentions get infected with an incurable strain of syphilis that spreads throughout a community causing insanity and eventually death. It is a place whose culture is filled with power-hungry, narcissistic, future asshats who care only about what you can do for them. Also, the humidity and heat during the summer makes the crowded, sweaty, stinky metro rides feel more like a form of torture than a modern form of transportation. Basically, my happiness is do in part to taking steps to get out of an environment I hate and move to a place where I feel more comfortable.

Use ecstasy: While I am very open about my use of MDMA as a medicine, a relationship aid, and just for fun that is not really what this is about. Part of my happiness comes from having hobbies and interests that take my mind of the negative shit in the world. Riding my bicycle along the beach, reading books, going to raves, writing, and just diving into “Firefly” on Netflix are all ways to escape for a while, which we all need. Mental escape is necessary and healthy to remain sane in a world that the media, religion, and the government says are going to hell.

Ignore the state: Yes, the government sucks. It is a tyrannical leech that pretends to be for the “will of the people” but is really for “the profit of those in power and their friends”. The federal government continues to oppress minorities through the War on Drugs, bomb the shit out of people just because they live in another country, and spy on all citizens because we are all potential terrorists in their eyes. Governments have always done that… it is what they do, their existence is based on the use of violence against innocent people and they don’t know how to do anything else. In addition, there really isn’t a lot any of us can do about it as individuals. You can certainly protest when needed, donate to non-profits, share stories, and raise hell but I believe the best thing we can all do is mostly ignore the state and try to be happy. If there is a victimless crime that you disagree with and infringing on your rights, just fucking ignore it smartly. And remember, we live in an amazing time. We have the most powerful companies working to cure death. We have satellites, telescopes, and space probes finding out new crazy awesome things about our galaxy daily. New research is finding cures for a number of diseases. It is seriously the best time to be alive but you wouldn’t know that if you only pay attention to government.

Get laid: Sex is awesome and I’m happy when I get some (I wish this piercing would heal already so that I could get some more often…), but this is really about relationships and community. Find people who are happy and be around them. I have a community of Burners here who share the Burning Man principles and take care of each other. Communities can be based around religion, sports, hobbies, exercise, etc. but they are necessary in my mind to be happy. I wouldn’t base it around politics much anymore, though I met some fucking awesome people through the libertarian movement, but to each their own. And I find it valuable to do things with a community that moves beyond how you originally met. Do you do yoga and enjoy the people there? Then invite them to go camping and share your love of the outdoors. People working together, loving together, and sharing experiences is a source of great happiness for me. In fact, now that I think about it, this may be the most important step.

So, as we drift into another beautiful weekend I hope you all have a happy time. I know I plan on filling my few days off of work with the beauty of southern California, ecstasy, anarchy, and banging.

Advertisements

Pulling the Trigger

I really enjoy autobiographies. I find them incredibly inspiring and often use the lives of others to inspire me to act. Whether it is Karl Hess, Ke$ha, or CG Jung I have noticed certain patterns in the lives of influential people. These patterns may exist in “normal” lives but they get lost in the commonality of the actions.

I don’t particularly want to be known or famous, but I do want to live my life for all it is worth… And that means taking action. I don’t really live vicariously through others, I’m just not built that way. I am a tactile person, I need to feel the breeze, the rush of adrenaline, see the sites, and feel the terror. My imagination just isn’t strong enough, even with photos and videos, to even remotely replace the experience.

Luckily I seem to have a trait that other adventurers do, once my mind is set I act with a ridiculous focus and my mind sets very quickly. When I decided to ride my bicycle across the country the decision was made quickly and I just did it. I’ve applied this to big things like trips and tattoos, and small things like meals (much to the annoyance of my partner, at any restaurant I’ll pick my meal in 60 seconds and she mentally tastes each option over time… in the end I think she has a better dining experience).

Something incredibly striking to me about the people in autobiographies is that they aren’t that special. They are normal people who made decisions to take chances and risk disrupting what is “known”. They wrote their ideas down, they cut loose bad baggage, and they made a personal commitment to do what they think is right, all things that we are all capable of if we try. As Chris Kucher says in the below video “everything around us that we call life, was made up of people no smarter than you.”

Damn Dirty Hippies

Labels are fascinating (though often annoying) things. I am a libertarian. But my path has been a strange one and I now identify as a hippie also. I was a veteran in Iraq and Afghanistan, I earned a degree in Economics from The College of Charleston, and I worked in the suit-and-tie non-profit world of Washington DC… but none of that felt 100% right to me, the fight against government was not all I wanted. In my experience hippies tend to be associated with “the left” (whatever the fuck that even means anymore) while libertarians have a history of aligning with “the right” (again… WTF does that mean), particularly over economic issues. The focus on economic freedom and aligning with the right has in many ways tainted the word “libertarian” in many people’s minds. Some of the tainting is justified, while some of it reflects a lack of understanding of what it means to be a libertarian.

As a libertarian I believe in the freedom to do what I wish with my body, my mind, and my labor, as long as I am not harming someone else. Being a libertarian DOES NOT mean that I have a slavish devotion to corporate hierarchy, consumerism, or crony capitalism. In fact, I hate all three of those things… though the last is the most offensive because it violates both my personal preferences and my libertarian philosophy. Crony capitalism is the use of government (read: guns) to prohibit others from competing (read: acting freely) in order to make money. That isn’t just un-libertarian, that is evil.

Being against government is the easy part of libertarianism, it is well defined and fits neatly into a black and white world view. Violence is wrong, government action is all violence, therefore government is wrong. While many conversations and debates can be had on issues of practicality or the utilitarian results of reducing government the ethics behind it easily stand. Many libertarians believe that libertarian philosophy stops with government, I am not one of those libertarians. Government is certainly a destructive force posing as the “will of the people” or communal action, our fight doesn’t end at anarchy… our fight continues until bigotry, sexism, and any power that treats one life as less than another or sees equality as the enemy is destroyed. It may be easy to see the government as the only true use of coercion against people but that is not reflective of reality.

Coercion, harm, oppression, and the other ills that libertarians strongly philosophically oppose do not exist solely in the realm of governments and criminals. Mental harm can come from harassment, bullying, and generations of institutional (government or otherwise) discrimination have very real harmful effects. We have learned enough about the human brain to know that it can be harmed, even if it is not touched physically. Libertarians would benefit from recognizing the legitimate claims that harm exist outside of the state and defeat of the state will not solve the destructive forces of racism or sexism.

So yes, I am a libertarian. I believe in markets, economic freedom, and personal freedom to do what you wish as long as you don’t harm others… but I believe that harm comes in many forms and is a more complex concept than “no physical force”. And yes, I am a hippie. I believe in loving people first and foremost, love is limitless, I enjoy expanding my views of the world, I find the body beautiful and enjoy being naked as often as possible, and I believe complete freedom cannot come until we cast of the shackles that we place on others and ourselves. In the end I feel most at home in where my libertarianism and hippyness combine, a place that is peaceful, anarchist, accepting, and loving (ie Burning Man). In the end, the labels are worthless.

I am me, part of we, and that is fucking awesome.

Epic Body Love

I’ve written in this blog before about body positivity and self love (both in general and as a male), and I’ve even taken my pasty white body out into the world to spread the message, but my work pales in comparison to Nick Gilronin.

Gilronan recently walked away with the title “Smallest Penis in Brooklyn” and he conducted an inspiring interview with the Gothamist. Even for someone as body-positive as me this is incredibly inspiring. Here is a man who is so comfortable with his body that he is willing to display a part of him that has often been used to judge a man’s masculinity and worth, and it is an admittedly small part. When asked if he thought small dicks have a bad rep he had this to say:

“Yes. That’s the media’s fault, I think. For both men and women, they push out images of people who just aren’t regular normal people. The size of a man’s penis does not matter for who he is as a person or in a relationship. Same thing with breast size. We’re all made in different shapes and sizes, but the media puts pressure on people to look a certain way. Most people do not look that way. Some people let that false sense of body image upset them and they shouldn’t be upset at all. Even worse, some people use those false standards and judge other people. It’s disconcerting.”

Agreed. It is disconcerting. I understand the natural inclination to judge someone based on quick glances, it is an evolutionary trait that has allowed our species to evolve, but part of being human means holding ourselves to a higher standard than nature. Our moral code shouldn’t only be grounded in what is “natural” but should surpass it. Particularly when the standard is a false one marketed to us by social pressures.

I don’t know for sure if men suffer the same pressure for our penises that women do for their breasts. Penises are generally hidden while breasts are on display, and in general women tend to be held to a higher physical standard than men and judged more harshly. His point is relevant though, we are all held to judgments when we shouldn’t be and you might be surprised when you get to know him. Like Gilronin said, some people are “growers not showers” and you might be surprised about how impressive someone is (phallicwise and otherwise) if you look past first impressions.