For some it's the feeling of being a part of something much bigger than themselves. For others it's making real connections in a world of business cards and e-mails. For a few, it's escaping from the rat race long enough to remember their human.
For me, it's all three. I've been an Army brat 2/3 of my life. I've never had any true, lasting friendships. I grew up a loner, only because making new friends every two years quickly became monotonous, and for a kid, there are more important things to watch on tv, than there are to experience in life itself. I was always the weird one. I had a huge gap between my front teeth, and I had a rat tail. (this was the eighties.) I looked like Scott beo, with a mullet. But you know what? I didn't care. I knew I was different, sure. And of course it affected me in some pretty shitty ways. But regardless of the shit I got, and the ass beatings I endured at school, I was a very happy kid sitting at home watching tv. Lot's of Mr. Wizard. Did you guys know Bill Nye had a science show back in the day too? LOTS of Carl Sagan. A whole bunch of Discovery too. I hated school. I loved learning. I figured out what a paradox was at a very early age.
I was weird, and had no friends,.. that's the point. I was always trying to reinvent myself, to see if I would ever find a niche. I wore denim jackets and shades for a while in hope that I would find I been built, and sent back in time to save humanity. I've spent several days, weeks even projecting my mind, searching for the force. I've spent equally as long trying to project thoughts into peoples heads. (which ended up actually having some pretty creepy results) I looked everywhere. What was I looking for? I was trying to find the real me,.. trying to find the real "life".
I knew that what I was living wasn't real. For as long as I can remember, I've always felt like I was just barely about to wake up. The feeling wasn't fleeting either, like in a dream. It was constant. Like a push sorta. It felt like the whole time, life had it's hand on my back, and was pointing, and pushing me in some direction. The problem was, that everywhere I looked, I only saw what was around me. I saw more of the same thing I was trying to wake up from.
I moved to Hawaii when I was eleven. Here I was, this dorky ass white kid with a bushy ass mop, and to tan to be seen. When I first got there I was going to a school in Waikiki. It was a rough school,.. I was only there for a week, but long enough to VERY quickly re-invent myself. It was fucking hard. I was the only white kid there, so I had nobody to learn from. I quickly dawned my combat boots, and shaved the sides and back of my head. I threw on my flannel, put the pink floyd in my Walkman, and hit my new school.
Mililani Uka Elementary. This was weird. I just left Alabama in the fifth grade as a middle schooler, and now I'm in sixth grade, in an elementary. I was still wearing an old, frayed, atlanta braves cap, but I'll explain that some other time. It's a good campfire story/chat.
But here I was, still strange, still very quiet. I sat back, and watched these kids, and learned what hawaiian life was like, for two years. By the time I hit seventh, Which 7 & 8 are "intermediate" school,.. I was my own person. for the first time in my life I had an identity. I was a skater. A SKATER!!! Not only do I have my own group of friends here,.. but they brought me in with open arms! (if I were black I would have been gangsta, if I was a local, I would have been gangsta. But I'm white,.. so in hawaii, I had to be a skater, or die in the vast wilderness, alone, and destitute.) I was able to listen to the music I was raised on, I was getting pretty good on my board, and I had built up a pretty nice metal collection, with a growing number of grunge albums. I was happy. I was really, really happy. I went to the beach almost every day, I learned to surf. I can hold my own on a body board. I can also set myself free, and skin the waves boardless towards the shore. Hell,.. I've even been ballsy enough to hit the 30-35 foot waves mid winter. (keep in mind, ALL of this is at Waimea Beach, the best surf spot in the world. COUNTLESS tourneys have been held here,.. it's THE fucking mount everest of the water world.) And That my friends, was my dig. Waimea was my spot. that's where I could be found.
"He's not at home?"
"Nah brah, his mom said he's at da beach."
"Yeah brah, let's grab da bus and hit da kine matsumotos on da way in."
"Yeah Brah! Hey bruddah, I lef my board out on da beach last night brah, We kanna stop by da kine Zippy's so I can snake won food tray?"
"Say braddah, Kanna get one dolla fo da bus brah?"
"Ambalah! you never have anyting."
"Just the pukas in my pockets brah."
After finally finding my place in the world,.. My pop got new orders. Fort Hood, Tx.
What the fuck? I had moved form paradise, to the fucking shit bucket of texas. There was no beach. There was no metal scene. There are cowboys, gangster wannabe's, and wigger white trash littering the rural areas. I immediately lost all connections with who I am, and what I love. I was violently thrown into a media driven society. These people worship MTV. If it's hot, then it's imitated here. Do you know how many old, busted ass lamina's I've seen with 20 inch spinners, and chrome liner from the dollar store? There is nowhere to escape from it all, living here. There is no beach to run off to. My new found ego, born in hawaii, had to feed. I became black, for four years. I lost my identity, and because of my lack of self respected, I conformed to the local social norm.
I've learned a lot since then. I've been homeless, I've been an alcoholic. I've been an addict. I've been a user, and I've been used. I've had it all handed to me, and I've thrown it all away. I've had nothing. I've lost everything there for a person to loose. I lost my dignity.
There is a certain peace in having nothing. To be able to stand up, and walk away with nothing but the close on your back, and feel like you've forgotten nothing. To know, beyond doubt, that the only thing that is truly yours, is you. But even that isn't untouched. Time wrinkles the skin. Life weathers the body. Experience shapes your mind. Though your body is yours, it remains a product of the life you live. If effects you indirectly based on your choices and actions throughout your life.
I have had nothing. I know that the most important part of life, is life itself. If you stop learning, you stagnate. You fall into a groove that keeps you moving, with minimal effort, only so you can numb out the pains the life you have chosen brings down on you. We have to keep learning, wise as we may be, as not to stagnate, or let the life we have chosen bring unnatural pains down on us. We have to evolve as humans to the understanding that life is far more fragile than anything in the universe. We have to learn from it, and use those lessons to help us through the harder lessons life has in store. If we stop, then we are doing nothing more than maintaining the world we have now.
Knowing this, I have decided to stop maintaining a failing way of life, and move towards a more progressive lifestyle. One that includes the neighbors, rather than locking them out. I want to build a life of wisdom, respect, and gratitude. I want to bring people back to their tribal natures, and show them the alternatives to living in a swarm/flock geared society. We have tried so hard, over so many generations to separate ourselves, from the very thing that made us. The natural world, with it's ability to create life, surely possesses the ability to sustain it. Why did we ever even think to pull away from what gave us life? Are we so different from all other life here that we have to put up walls, and tear down nature to sustain ourselves?
I propose a NEW way of life, as to say the OLD way of life. In our quest for knowledge, we have built up quite a waste bin of bad ideas. It's time to empty that bin, and clear the table of the notes we've taken. It's time to take the knowledge we have gained over the course of our history, and put it to the best of use. We can now tear down our monstrous sky scrapers. we can now recycle our automobiles. We can now use the technology we've created to build a more sustainable life for all of us. We now know that our intelligence can be as dangerous as anything that intelligence allows us to imagine.