Mother Nature Loves You

If you listen carefully, you’ll discover, even in these troubled times, Mother Nature still loves her children and I can prove it.

Quiet little puddles have an incredible reaction when you foot stomp them.

Nothing is quite as carefree as kicking dry autumn leaves.

If you look at clouds long enough, they turn into horses and dragons and sailing ships and the lost creatures from Labyrinth.

When you mow the lawn, it smells good.

Belinda Carlisle and Chrissie Hynde can still sing.

If you could smell “hungry,” it would be fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls.

Mittens are warm.

Children really don’t understand the difference between physics and magic.

At some point, somebody kissed you, and they meant it.

When a two-year-old offers anybody a toy telephone, even the biggest badass in history will answer it.

All the crazy cool stuff we can do with chocolate.

It’s not illegal to sing in the shower.

Bras are removable.

Babies laugh.

With no encouragement at all, a cat on your lap will purr.

French men could read Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion and it would sound sexy.  French women could recite the Marseille telephone book.

Bubble wrap.

Nobody is ever going to find out where the extra sock came from, who ate the last cookie and put the box back on the shelf, or why on Earth  Charlize Theron hooked up with Seth Rogen in Long Shot.

People who breathe helium sound funny when they talk.

Sometimes, Oreos go on sale!

And finally;

All any of us needs to be happy is a cup of coffee, a gorgeous sunrise and two million dollars.

The Pursuit Of Cool

The world is built on “cool.”  And, deny it if you want to, we all have an uncontrollable urge to pursue it.  It’s like hungry, horny and getting enough to drink – hydration: we need it to live.  That’s why everybody’s teenage years were so godawful.  Not only were we being pistol-whipped by our hormones, but every time we turned around, Susan and Dave, the “cool” kids, were standing there.  They had bodies by Mattel and clothes by Yves St. Laurent.  They knew exactly what to say on every occasion, never had an unfortunate zit and certainly never felt the need to fart.  In a word, they were cool.  Of course, we knew we would be way cooler if only we had the opportunity, but mostly we cursed our fate for being born incurable nerds.

As adults, we pursue “cool” in more subtle and sophisticated ways — what we eat, what we sit on, how we get around, what we watch on TV, even the way we speak.  (Slang is a very refined bit of “cool.”)  Plus, we convince ourselves that “cool” doesn’t matter (we’ve outgrown it) because one of the essential elements of being “cool” is … you don’t care about it.  And there’s a whole it’s-hip-to-be-square industry that’s grown up around that.  But regardless of how we chase it, “cool” is always out there.  It’s the way we define ourselves in relation to every other person on the planet.  And like it or not, some people are better at it than the rest of us.  It even extends beyond the grave.

For example, Hunter S. Thompson, the King of Gonzo Journalism had his ashes shot out of a cannon.  His buddy, Johnny Depp, did the shooting (this was back when Johnny was still “cool”) and Jack Nicholson, John Cusack, Bill Murray, John Kerry, Ed Bradley, etc., etc. all showed up to wish Hunter S. well on his final journey.  Personally, I think with that much “cool” standing around the cannon, they probably didn’t even have to light the fuse – it just spontaneously burst into flame.

Meanwhile, Gene Roddenberry, the guy who created Star Trek, had his ashes taken into space on the Space Shuttle – kind of a “There and Back” posthumous adventure.  He also had some of his ashes (along with Timothy Leary’s and a bunch of other guys’) shot into orbit aboard a Pegasus XL rocket.  Unfortunately, after several years, the orbit deteriorated and the capsule disintegrated when it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.  But talk about totally cool — especially since the whole Star Trek phenom — from Jim Kirk to the latest Picard — is the ultimate sci-fi travelogue for nerds.  Star Trek has never been “cool” beyond its geek niche, but clearly Roddenberry is.

However, the best nerd-to-“cool” tale ever told is that of Eugene Shoemaker.  Here was a guy with a Thomas Dewey moustache and a personality to match.  He loved rocks — and not just any rocks: he was an astrogeologist.  (I don’t even know what those people do.)  Anyway, he was so good at it that, when he died, his colleagues convinced NASA to put his ashes on the Lunar Prospector, a capsule designed to crash on the Moon.  On July 31, 1999, it did just that — with a special polycarbonate “urn” containing Shoemaker.  So Eugene is the first human being buried on the Moon.  How “cool” is that?  Too “cool!”  (Eat your heart out, Clooney!)

So when all those people are putting on the brag about their “cool” walking tour of Greenland, or their “cool” new Nespresso machine, or their eco-friendly bicycle with heated seat and handlebars – remember: they might think they’re “cool” (just like Susan and Dave did in high school) but they’re never going to be buried-on-the-Moon “cool.”  That’s reserved for nerds like us.

I’m An Optimist (2020)

One of the problems (the biggest one, actually) about being an optimist is people think you’re thick.  They might listen to you carefully, even agree on occasion, but there’s something in their eyes that says, “Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”  It’s an occupational hazard of living in the 21st century where ‘abandon hope” is the soupe du jour.  It’s not that people are particularly convinced we’re all screwed; it’s just that a lot of folks have the misconception that pessimism comes with an extra portion of smart.  After all, nobody wants to look like a simpleton who still believes in Santa Claus and happily ever after.  We’re all adults here, and happy endings belong in children’s fairy tales.  Think about it!  Once you get past Snow White and the girls, one of the greatest love stories of all time, Romeo and Juliet, ends with a double suicide.  Ouch!

The problem is we’re taught from the year dot that life doesn’t always go our way.  It’s a good lesson, but because we’re children, we make the assumption that that’s the way the world works.  We call it being realistic.  But it’s not.  In fact it’s the exact opposite.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying the world is all rainbows and roses – it isn’t — but the truth is that, throughout history, the good guys always win.  Believe it or don’t: they do!

Here’s a simple test.  You’re sitting here reading this because?

A — You have to work 16 back-breaking hours every day on the business end of a whip.
B – You can’t read or write.
C — Some power-mad asshole and his minions are controlling everything you see and hear.
D — You have cholera, tuberculosis, polio or any of a hundred other diseases.
E — You don’t have enough money to feed yourself; forget about buying a computer!
F – You died in childbirth.
OR
G — None of the above — because over the years, a continuous line of good people did away with all that bullshit.

I don’t care how pessimistic you think you are; there’s no denying we live in the most benevolent society ever.  We’re richer, better educated, healthier and more socially aware that at any other time in history.  But here’s the deal.  This wasn’t always the case; we’ve had to work at it.  We’ve had to overcome wars, famine, bat-shit crazy dictators, natural and unnatural disasters and a boatload of debilitating diseases — just to get this far.  But we’ve always prevailed – ALWAYS.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here. 

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean.  A couple of thousand years ago, a guy we call Otzi Man froze to death in the Alps.  (He had an arrow in his shoulder and a ton of bad luck.)  That was the way it was back then.  But try that these days and you’ll have rescue teams from two different countries fighting over who’s going to save your ass, a medical helicopter, paramedics, a stretcher, trauma nurses, a hospital, doctors, antibiotics, sheets, bandages and a line of people willing to donate blood.  That’s progressive, folks!  So I’m no rocket scientist, but of course, I’m an optimist!