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Nut Up or Shut Up: A Non-Poem About Living, Now

Desire, need, desperation to win, achieve or prove something to ourselves or others will drain us of our innate power.An energetic and intense focus on mastering this moment and trusting the future will unfold well will manifest as an invigorating existence void of mind-made stress and anxiety. If we realized what was actually, truly, genuinely important we’d start grabbing life by the balls and living it, with vigor, instead of letting our minds and egos keep us passively avoiding death, creating enemies where they do not exist, trapped each day in the psychological past and future, rather than the psychedelic beauty that is the present fucking moment. Being alive is a gift. It is intrinsically (awe)some and our past does not have to define us, imprison us or hold us captive in the myth of time. Defining ourselves by words and thoughts alone imprisons our imagination and potential in an ever narrowing tunnel whose light diminishes exponentially the more staunchly we adhere to these descriptors. We are not our past, our age, our socioeconomic class, our political affiliation, our nationality, our bank statement, our marriage license, our job title, our perceived reputation, our diploma, our ethnicity, our opinions or our engrained moral ideology. We are life meant to be lived, realized, awakened, aware, enthusiastic, joyful, impassioned, fortunate beings. We get to be humans here and now. These short years aren’t meant to be wasted feeling inferior or superior, successful or inadequate, attractive or unattractive. Whether physical or mental, we should stop wasting our lives in hatred of what is, of what we cannot change, in us or in others. We owe it to our individual mind, body and heart to get over ourselves (our egos) and our preconditioned habits and beliefs, and bring acceptance, passion and exuberance into getting the most out of each moment and each day. This isn’t confined to a specific set of rules or way of life. We can and should pursue any myriad of career paths with gusto, enjoy the fruits of our labor, work within our own moral and ethical parameters, be cool with people and don’t take melodrama seriously. Enjoy the ride, be fluid and in the flow of life instead of awkwardly rigid, working tirelessly to avoid trouble that only exists in the meaningless anxiety created by excessive thinking. This reality is about taking responsibility and control of how we approach day-to-day life, how we perceive information and the events that encompass our days, and what our lingering effect is after the day is done. How did this approach to life affect us and those around us? When we daydream of our future success how does life look during the years committed to achieving those goals and rewards? Are they riddled with what-ifs, major sacrifices, stress and a fixation with attaining the next promotion, raise, notoriety or form of success that lies outside of ourselves? More simply stated, will our level of daily enjoyment and happiness be affected for many years if we follow these rules and steps? What constitutes each rung of this metaphorical ladder? Can we enjoy wherever we currently are in our careers, whatever level of expertise or income, and allow the external forms of success to be a bonus but not the reason for our personal contentment or self-esteem? That is the key to looking back at our lives knowing we truly lived it. We didn’t sweat ridiculous nonsense, define ourselves by other's expectations or material acquisition. We breathed with reverence each day and used that grateful, inspired energy to execute our lives at a higher, more alertly present level. We navigated both calm and troubled waters with patience, humility and grace. And hopefully a sense of humor. This may seem very cerebral, intense and complex, but it is not. Let's drop the bullshit, own up to our thoughts, words and actions. Let others be and don’t hesitate or doubt being ourselves. Nut up or shut up. Live and let live. Go take an embarrassingly large bite out of life.

Two Films, One Truth: I AM & Life In A Day

Our bodies and brains do not recognize the emotion or cause for our tears, only the catharsis it brings. I love a good cry. And I especially love when this cleansing process is brought about after some epiphany or moment of clarity. This happens more and more to me due to the truly remarkable people I’m fortunate enough to communicate with on any given day, and because I’ve opened my heart more, I’m more readily in a receptive place to be moved and changed. Since leaving college and the structure of academia, I’ve pursued education on a much purer level, based on my needs and interests, not by some set of standards, requirements or recommendations of others. I suppose I’m a geek for philosophy and the more artful sciences, and therefore I seek out material that may ask more questions than it answers. The wrinkle now permanently residing on my furrowed brow shows my incessant inquisition and what I’ve noticed as I’ve slowly evolved is the quality of the question has changed and my need for a concrete answer has diminished. As a beautiful artist and friend put it “...come enter the world of gray.” I love and often prefer the very personal experience reading a book provides. No one is there formulating their opinions that inevitably make their mark on yours. It’s you. A chair. And a book. Sure you can discuss and analyze the details with others, in a book club or one on one, in two chairs; but I still prefer to read, recommend, and release it. People so often feel the need for their opinions to reflect others, especially those they love or respect, whether they know them well or not, and as I get older, and a tiny bit wiser, I realize more and more how each human being perceives each moment, each comment, each piece of art, is unique and special to them. And each of those opinions, perceptions, ways of processing information, are valid and meaningful whether no one or everyone agrees. In high school and even now I tend toward disliking what everyone likes, probably my ego desiring to be elitist or different, but if I’m being kind, I think it’s because of my very naturally inquisitive nature. And so it is always with care and even a bit of trepidation that I write and recommend passionately. And today I’m filled with such vigor for life, such hope for humanity, and such unadulterated Love that I must encourage you to experience two films; I AM and Life in a Day.

I’ve been seeing movies alone for years. Call it sad, pathetic, weird, cool, whatever you want, I love the experience of absorbing a film alone. It has the same quality of reading a book for me, material that I take in without the influence of others. I make up my own mind and heart. This is not to diminish watching movies or TV with others, as that is what I do most of the time, at home or in the theatre, but when I have the time and I think it’ll be something to benefit from alone, that’s precisely what I do. I highly recommend it.

On a chilly spring morning in Chicago, I went to an 11 am (before noon tickets are $6, I’m a broke broad) showing of the soul-stirring documentary, I AM. I’d read numerous articles on this film leading up to its release, and watched an interesting interview with the filmmaker on Oprah (yep, I used to watch Oprah, judge all you want). I AM is a mantra I sometimes repeat while seated and breathing, the simple act of being and not needing to finish that sentence with a descriptor. I am Danielle. I am a woman. I am Italian. I am blah blah. None of that is important. What Yoga and various introspective teachings have led to is the truth behind Being over doing or thinking. I am. That is all. This film seeks to not only point to this truth but also to put the power in your hands, recognize how you’re contributing to your world and how you can be fundamental in improving it. This movie succeeded in doing what is probably the main objective of any artist, the provocation of thought. What a mind and heart fuck.

I AM is directed and narrated by Tom Shadyac, the successful director of such comedies as Ace Ventura 1 and 2, along with most of Jim Carrey’s best 90‘s flicks, Bruce and Evan Almighty, Patch Adams, and the Nutty Professor. He has given some good to the world; to me, comedy is a gift, artful generosity, and aiding in laughter of the masses is most certainly a positive contribution. During his rise to success, Tom found himself acquiring more, more things, bigger homes, more cars, more materials, until he became slowly defined by style and somehow lost substance. He recognized no matter how much he had, there was still a void, an unanswerable question, an unfixable problem. A near death accident was the pivotal catalyst for his enlightenment, the journey to find his own truth and ultimately the answer to those big questions. The film begins asking what is wrong with the world, the answer easily pointing to “I AM.” We travel with him around the world, speak with experts on human nature and conditioning, see his awakening and others’ happening with our own until ultimately we ask what is right with the world, with the goal answer being “I AM.” See it. Let it open your mind and heart a little wider, and find the simplicity and power of the mantra I AM. What is Love? I AM. What is life? I AM.

The other night I had a nearly opposite experience to seeing I AM, but only in superficial detail. Instead of being alone in a theatre, I was at home in front of my television, with the two greatest roommates any person could ever have, my brother and my man love. Three weirdos, one couch. We excitedly added this film to our Netflix instant queue after unsuccessfully seeing it in the theatre last summer. All we knew was Ridley Scott was involved and in order to make the film they solicited people from around the world to submit a video of their lives on July 24th, 2010. Hence the title, Life in a Day.

This movie is so rich, so dense, so full of beauty that I cannot possibly describe it adequately. Words are never enough, and without spoiling the experience by providing a boring synopsis or too much information, I’ll simply describe my perspective and my joy. This film has a pulse. It’s told from the perspective of the human race, from every continent, covering a spectrum of ages, races, jobs, families, lifestyles and points of view through out one day. It showcases in many creative ways the duality in which most of us live, through love and fear. What we love and what we fear ultimately predicate our thought and action/inaction. How we answer these questions affects our programming, our operating system and processor, and witnessing that in ourselves and others delves us deeper into fundamental truths and connection. Answering those questions through our genetic make-up and the circumstances surrounding our environment tells us everything about who and why we are, and if we could just work backward, asking what causes positive and negative outcomes, I’m fairly certain the answer lies in either fear or love, whats wrong or right, I AM. We are. I finished this film and immediately wanted to watch it again. I was spell-bound, inspired, shaken, and energized. It carved out a space for me to see what an incredible species human beings are and how there seems to be more good in the world than bad.

The world is an endlessly fascinating place. I want to observe and be changed by all of it. I hope to gradually and essentially be what is right with my world, the ripple effect being simple but profound. What is different is beautiful. I am no better than you, and you no better than me. What fires me up is the perpetuation of ignorance, the stubborn and hateful ways some speak of others, the arrogance and condescension inherent in the attitudes and behaviors toward fellow human beings, the cycle of misinformation gathering tremendous steam and clout without any validity or kindness. Questioning, laughing, conversing and eating get me through. These films are food for the mind, heart and soul. See them alone. Watch them with others. Share the experience. I truly hope you benefit in some way, at the very least enjoy what you may already know.

Laugh. Think. Inquire. Live!