Systemic Racism

I wrote the following post last summer and never shared it for various reasons I won’t go into.

One of my friends who is of Asian descent brought to my attention a news story (see below link) out of the Monterey Bay Area of California where I currently live.

In light of last week’s and the previous last few months’ events, I think it’s pretty timely now to share.

Here is the news story and my thoughts follow about the news story:

https://kion546.com/news/2020/07/06/video-of-man-saying-racist-remarks-against-asian-family-sparks-public-outrage/

We’ve heard the two words Systemic Racism a lot in the last few months in the ongoing cultural reckoning conversations many of us are having since the murder of George Floyd on May 25th of this year.

I grew up in the Southeastern United States; South Carolina to be exact.

I saw alot of racism and bigotry in my day living there.

Despite that fact, there are many good people in South Carolina that are working tirelessly to right the injustices to black people and other peoples that have been discriminated against.

Let me say that again…

There are MANY GOOD PEOPLE IN SOUTH CAROLINA working TIRELESSLY to END RACISM and BIGOTRY.

The South in general, and South Carolina in particular, is not an isolated backwater of racism that so many comedians and just everyday people you come across in restaurants and bars and water coolers (pre-covid of course) like to poke fun at in their routines and everyday conversations.

I was heartened to learn through the Broadway play ‘Hamilton’ that John Laurens, one of the Founding Fathers of these United States of America, from Charleston, South Carolina, was a positive voice for change in ending slavery.

His last name is on many a roadway and there’s even a City named after him there in South Carolina.

And this was back in the late 1700s.

There are many countless examples of people like John in the South who stood up for oppressed people and sounded the alarm bells that something was wrong.

And, unfortunately, as we’ve all seen with George Floyd’s murder, these alarm bells are still going off.

Back to the news story my friend sent…

I was shocked to view this report.

Shocked no doubt from its content (WARNING: racial slurs and ugly language towards a group of people ensues in the footage), but more so, shocked from WHERE the video originated.

It wasn’t in the deep south where, as I’ve stated above, many comedians will draw up entire bits around making fun of this entire region as a racist/bigoted/backward society.

I think we need to move past these caricatures of the South and embrace the notion that our racism and bigotry is baked deep into our nature/nurture cake if you will and expresses itself not just in the deep Southeastern United States, but all throughout our country, and all over our planet for that matter.

So, no, this video I’m sharing that was shared with me by my friend, came from literally a 45 minute drive south of where I am currently living in Watsonville, CA.

This video is from Carmel Valley, CA near Monterey, CA…one of the wealthiest pieces of real estate in the United States.

I couldn’t believe it.

And then, to add further weight to the burden of this injustice and ugly side of humanity, this same friend of mine of Asian descent shared the following with me…

‘This also reminded me of a training I attended in California in the 2010s. After lunch break I came back to my spot where I left my notebook. I opened my notebook and in the first page in all caps read just one word…”JAP”. I had to wonder and sit there for the remaining afternoon of training knowing that a racist was in the room watching me, breathing the same air as me, no more than 20 feet away.’

Again, this wasn’t a training that happened in the 1950s or 1960s.

No, this was a training from only a few years ago in the 2010s and a training in California…a ‘Blue State’.

This friend of mine has only told a handful of people about this event he experienced.

They said that at the time, being new to the area and job they were getting trained in, that they didn’t want to ‘rock the boat’.

They just figured that that was just the way it is.

Reminds me of the Bruce Hornsby and The Range song from the 1980s…

Such a beautiful song ‘The Way It Is’ as well as the cover song that Tupac (Rest In Peace) made called, ‘Changes‘).

Click on the embedded links above or the links below to listen to these amazing songs of social justice…both still very much needed:

https://youtu.be/cOeKidp-iWo – Bruce’s

https://youtu.be/4MxCPy83shM – Tupac’s

Now my friend knows that they have to rise up (Check out this ‘Rise Up’ clip from Hamilton the Broadway Musical for inspiration) to educate the new generation on what’s right and what’s wrong.

I am compelled to rise up with my friend now and speak up to let others know that this kind of systemic racism, despite what our political leaders may say, does exist in our Country, in our State of California, and in all our United States, even just down the road from me not 45 minutes away in someone’s hateful mind who has no qualms spewing out ugliness towards their fellow human beings.

It’s time for us all to rise up and start being the change we want to see in this world.

It’s time to make sure we take care of everyone.

No one gets left behind.

No one is beyond redemption.

The late John Lewis said that last sentence in the midst of the strife and civil unrest that unfolded in the 1960s here in this Country. And THAT guy of ALL guys on this planet has experienced 1st hand both the ugly side of humanity and its beautiful counterweight.

We can do this!

We have the technology.

We all have the ability to stop racist and bigoted thoughts before they even start.

Here’s to starting and stopping and ultimately finding a place of peace here on Earth.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

I really appreciate it,

Drew

Yesterday

Yesterday marked 21 years since the day Chihiro and I met in my tiny little apartment off Keystone Avenue in Reno, Nevada at a little St. Patrick’s Day party that I was throwing to inaugurate me moving into my own 1-bedroom apartment.

We had a nice celebration.

Matthew even joined in and brought out some old pictures of us ‘Boomer Cs’ (Matthew’s new term of endearment for his parents who are Boomer Children) 😂 when I looked much younger and Chihiro looked the same as she does today.

Seriously she hasn’t aged a day. Not fair ;0

But all the celebrations came to a grinding halt as we turned on the evening news (PBS Newshour) to find out what happened in Georgia.

Both my wife and son got scared.

I got scared.

We saw footage of Asians being pushed on the streets of San Francisco and elsewhere.

I’ve been too busy with my own life to pay attention. But now…I’m paying attention.

Now, yesterday, I don’t have the luxury of not paying attention.

My wife and son don’t feel safe in this Country anymore after yesterday.

My wife and son don’t want to travel.

They don’t want to go anywhere where they might be targeted for walking while being Asian.

This to me is the deepest and darkest and most lasting legacy of the pandemic and what the previous administration did to spread repeated messages of hate toward Asia and Asians.

We are now in a post ‘January 6th’ world where people are emboldened by the previous President’s speech that day to ‘fight like hell or you won’t have a country anymore’.

And yes, I concede, these are words that could be construed to mean something good; fighting for one’s country can be noble and honorable.

But I think we all saw how those words from our President played out.

We all know now that words have consequences.

And I don’t want to get into the finer points of why what happened on January 6th should never be duplicated, but I think it’s fair to say that what we may see from people who no longer trust in the rule of law, the institutions of our democracy, our voting system, that these same people who have been told for many months that it was OK to be angry, it was OK to hate the other, and it was OK to go and fight could very well do so in a violent manner.

Not all, but enough.

And instead of messages of love and what’s possible if we all work together here on this planet, we have been traumatized and pummeled day after day after day with how we are all under attack by ‘evil people’.

Yes, those were the exact words used by our previous President multiple times to describe his political enemies.

Again, words have consequences.

Those messages of fear and hate are now working their way across our landscapes.

And unless you and I stand up and call it out for what it is…pure fearfulness and hatred, there will be more Yesterdays for this Country.

Worse yesterdays where more Asians are killed in broad daylight, more Blacks are killed in broad daylight, more Native Americans are killed in broad daylight, and anyone considered ‘part of the problem’ killed in broad daylight.

We don’t want to get to that place.

And the time is now to stand up to this hate and say enough is enough.

As the great and late John Lewis and others with him taught us lessons of courage on that bridge in Selma in 1965; I hope we all heed those lessons and meet this growing hatred in our Country towards all things unfamiliar and ‘not like it used to be’ as a call to love and a call to speak up for love and kindness towards all humans.

This is a pivotal moment I feel in this Country to tell the people who spread fear and hate that their thoughts and their brains need help.

Yes, they need help. Not hatred.

They need help in the same way a heart needs help that has been under attack from a lack of exercise and a lack of putting good heart healthy foods in that same body where that sick heart resides.

They need millions of young and old people in this Country to retrain and reskill as mental health professionals.

We all need a ‘put a human on the moon’ moment for mental health in this Country.

It should be SO easy for anyone to be able to reach out to a mental health professional FOR FREE and get the help they need to correct their damaging thoughts and mindsets that might do themselves and others grave harm.

All the violence that’s ever been visited on others in this Country and all over this planet started and starts with a thought.

A brain wave signal.

Think about that for a moment.

What if all of us paid more attention to our thoughts.

Really.

Seriously.

Paid.

Attention.

The stigma of seeking out mental health providers and getting help through a mental health provider would probably evaporate overnight.

Suddenly people would embrace other people who are trying to turn their lives around and change their minds and how they’ve become accustomed to think about a particular issue or issues.

We can do this.

We have the technology.

The technology is love and kindess and compassion towards our fellow organisms; both humans and non-humans.

I’m looking at you bats.

In that same PBS NewsHour program talking about all the violence towards Asians, they also ran a story about bats and how they’ve also been subjected to violence.

If we thought our numbers look bad in terms of deaths, it pales in comparison to the number of bats that have lost their lives due to human encroachment and lack of ecological knowledge.

My son’s clasmate’s mother is a world renowned Bat Scientist; Dr. Winifred Frick.

She was featured along with some other bat researchers on the news program last night that we watched talking about how humans have fundamentally misunderstood the role that all species play on this planet and that misunderstanding leads to extinctions of species that…once they’re gone, we can’t bring them back.

It was a powerful corollary to the human violence we witnessed in Georgia.

We all need to be able to survive and thrive here.

Not just humans, but all living organisms.

And if you take the time to learn from a Native American what’s possible on this planet in terms of Earth’s abundances and all organisms thriving , I think the rhetoric that you may be accustomed to that says immigrants are taking your job and Asians are causing global pandemics, and Blacks are bringing police violence upon themselves, all of this will start to quiet.

And in that quiet.,,a whisper from Mother Earth…her heart and indeed your heart and my heart, all of our hearts collectively will begin to heal.

Thanks for reading this.

I hope you might consider standing up for love and kindness and compassion today for an Asian who is scared about what happened in Georgia, for a Black who is scared about what happened in Wisconsin, for a Native American who is scared about what happened on their homeland many many years ago with the first settlers, for a Hispanic who is scared about what happens day in and day out in our agricultural fields and other fields of work where their people are exploited and treated poorly.

It all starts in our mind, in our thoughts.

Will you choose love or will you choose hate?

Will you take care of your mind?

Will you put good healthy things into it?

How will you do it?

Could you put a plan together and begin making efforts to see that that plan gets enacted?

There are many of us here on this planet to help you.

We’re all in it together.

We’re all struggling.

We’re all one people.

Again, We. Can. Do this.

No more hate towards Asians.

No more hate towards Blacks.

No more hate towards Native Americans.

No more hate towards anyone or any organism period.

We have the technology to love and care for one another.

We’ve just forgotten how to do it.

The good news is…there are lots of others still here who haven’t forgotten.

Let us all strive to be one of these kind and compassionate unforgetting others.

Until next time, thanks for stopping by.

Drew

January 6th, 2021, Black Lives Matter, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s

(Above 3 images left to right taken from PBS.org, Youtube, and The Atlantic)

What happened on January 6th, 2021, two Wednesdays ago now, was a day that I think most Americans will remember for the rest of their lives.

I know I will.

I can remember exactly what I was doing at the moment I got the alert on my phone that our Nation’s Capitol Building was being stormed (working on a post CA wildfire government assessment report for a customer) by an angry mob carrying Trump and Confederate Flags throughout the halls of one of our government’s most cherished buildings and shouting for the hanging of our Vice President, Mike Pence.

The images and audio are chilling. Horrifying. Haunting. Saddening. Sickening. Everything in between.

Regardless of who you think is to blame for the violence that happened on that day (besides the obvious perpetrators who pushed their way violently past police barricades), regardless of how you feel about the incoming and outgoing Presidents, I think it’s fair to say that we have come to a dangerous precipice here in these United States of America.

My friend Rob says my superpower is being able to weave in 1980s and 1990s pop culture references in the weirdest of places.

I’m going to use that superpower today and now and reference a song from Deep Blue Something from 1994 called ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.

Some of you of a ‘certain age’ will remember the song and maybe ‘remember that we both kind of liked it’ 🙂

Here’s a link to the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx1IZnCrh78 (apologies for the cringy early 90s hairdos, poppy guitar melodies, and vibe)

Reason I bring up this obscure 1990s reference is that I think Deep Blue Something’s song about a break up and trying to come to some kind of common ground with your significant other is apt for where we are right now as a Nation.

We are in desperate need of finding common ground before we come to more violence with one another.

Desperate. Need.

While I am no fan of the outgoing President, I was heartened to hear some words of peace come forth from him in the aftermath of January 6th.

And while I think it was a little too late in the 4th quarter so to speak, these words of peace and non-violence were still delivered.

And for that…I’m grateful.

I have gotten alot of criticism from some of the readers of this blog and the social media sites I post to on occasion that I haven’t denounced the violence that occurred with the Black Lives Matter movement that occurred in 2020.

There seems to be a movement of sorts to redirect traffic to address BLM violence in concert with the violence at the Capitol Building.

I don’t want to spend time debating here how those two clashes with our government institutions are not exactly apples to apples comparisons in my humble opinion.

I’ll concede that, just like my American Football reference above, it could be argued that I’m also a little too late in the 4th quarter to address the BLM movement and associative movements like Antifa and some of their violent tactics.

Fair enough.

I would say in my defense that I thought I was pretty clear in my previous posts about ANY violence not being the answer to ANY problem, but today I want to make it crystal clear that my thoughts on non-violence and peace extend to the Black Lives Matter and Antifa movements, just as much as they extend to what happened on January 6th in the U.S. Capitol Building.

I’ve referenced John Lewis, the late United States Senator from Georgia, a number of times in the last year who not only preached non-violence but LIVED it and helped others live it in the days when our black brothers and sisters were being brutalized consistently by our own law enforcement and other citizens in broad daylight and on national television pretty much daily in the 1950s and 1960s; all pre-George Floyd, and all when a large percentage of many Americans would refer to our Country as ‘Great’.

John’s approach to peaceful protests should be the model for all protests; no matter what they give to you in terms of hate, violence, unkindness, and misunderstanding, you give back love, peace, kindness, and understanding.

Think about that.

Would you be willing to walk across that bridge in Selma, Alabama in 1965 knowing that you might not get to the other side, knowing that you might meet the end of a police billy club forcefully brought down upon your head and still…still…as you’re receiving that blow upon multiple blow to your head…resist the urge to rise up and strike that person down in anger?

John was. John did. And thankfully, John survived that brutal police beating. Barely. Many didn’t.

And similar to Ben Kenobi who was struck down in anger in the first Star Wars movie by his former student, Annakin Skywalker (yes, Rob, my pop culture extends even beyond the 1980s), John, like the wise Jedi I imagine he was, became more powerful than the whole White Supremacist movement could possibly imagine.

So, I say all this to say to my critics, when I think of peaceful protests, I reference John Lewis and strive to follow his example.

The events of last summer with Black Lives Matter where cities were burned, people were hurt and killed, and chaos reigned in certain sections of our Country was not right. Not even close to right.

John Lewis would have been mortified. Martin Luther King, Jr., mortified. Ghandi, mortified.

Violence is not the way to get your point across. Peace and love and kindness and understanding is.

It’s always been that way. We just choose to think that we have to scream louder, we have to do louder, we have to hurt louder. But we don’t. We never have.

Some of the greatest civil rights legislation ever passed in the 1960s was brought to that same Capitol Building that was desecrated on January 6th, 2021. That legislation was passed in large measure not because of violent protests, but because the nation saw the likes of John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr. preaching non-violence at their peaceful protests.

They led by example.

We need our leaders to do the same.

We need to return to non-violent principles in our protests. We need more John Lewises in the world to help us spread this message of non-violent protest and how powerful those kinds of protests are.

I was a part of a Black Lives Matter peaceful protest in June of last year. The organizers had studied the works of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi and John Lewis. I was humbled to be a part of that march through the streets of Watsonville, California.

And I will concede that there were peaceful protests on January 6th, 2021 that didn’t invade the Capitol.

But the ones that did turn violent need to be addressed.

The good news is, we can all collectively today step away from the precipice previously mentioned.

We can all stop this madness, this descent into hatred and fear as a Nation.

We can all start to rebuild; start to care for one another again. Really care.

Even if you’re an ardent supporter of the outgoing President and his policies, you can turn away from hate and fear of the other side. We are not all evil. We are not all out to get you. We are not all vicious. We are for the most part just humans just like you who want the best for our families and friends and for all beings on the planet to have a safe and peaceful life.

And yes, there are chasms in our interpretations and understanding of the world around us.

And yes, it would be nice if we could all agree on certain facts.

But, I think we both know that that agreement may not come for some time.

But…and this is a big But…we still have Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

We still have our common humanity, our common decency, our common ability to look at another human being in pain and reach out and say, I want to help you.

We’re all in pain. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Every single one.

There’s not a person on this planet that doesn’t know pain.

Can we all acknowledge this simple truth?

Can we all acknowledge that we have to find a way to help alleviate the suffering of all peoples on this planet?

Is that not our primary mission being here on this pale blue dot (thank you, Carl Sagan)? Alleviate suffering?

Isn’t that the one thing we’ve got?

Let’s build on that today and in the many days ahead.

Yes, there will be some difficult days.

You may not agree with or like the incoming President. You may feel that your outgoing President ‘got a raw deal’ and is possibly still getting a ‘raw deal’ with the Impeachment and potential trial in the Senate. You may want to strike out in anger at the other side thinking they are evil, thinking they are out to get you and your way of life in this Country.

I ask you, nay, I implore you, when you have those feelings of rage, feelings of despair, feelings of all hope lost, to invoke the image of John Lewis on that bridge in 1962 in Selma, Alabama.

Remember what it must have been like to be him, to make that walk toward death and be at peace with himself that he wouldn’t allow the other side’s anger and rage to change his peaceful response to the injustices he saw around him.

He would speak his truth peacefully, and he would do so in love.

So I close today and ask you to speak your truth peacefully and in love. Your message will resonate with a great many more people if it’s done so in that manner than in the alternative fashion.

To my critics, I hope that I may have answered some questions about where I stand on BLM and Antifa violence. I denounce it. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think resorting to violence is the answer.

The answer is love and kindness toward one another and towards all beings great and small.

We have to find a way to practice both of these things every day with one another.

It’s the one…or two…things we’ve got.

I’ll see you down at Tiffany’s.

Thanks for reading until the end, and thanks for stopping by.

Drew

My Shortest Most Profound ‘Ted Talk’ ever – In loving memory of my Uncle Teddy

(Photo above taken October 14th, 1971. From left to right, mystery hands (my late Dad?), my Mom, me at 365 days on the planet, my Mom’s Mom and my Grandmother Louise Drew, my Aunt Kathy, my recently passed Uncle Teddy, and my cousin Candi at 333 days on the planet.)

I’m starting to think I should add to the title of this blog…’Things I find profoundly sad’.

On Christmas Eve this past Thursday, I found out my Uncle Teddy had passed away due to liver complications.

My Uncle Teddy was someone very near and dear to me.

Ever since I developed any memories here on this planet, this person was either in them or quite close to them (see photo above and some below from that epic 1st birthday celebration).

He, and my Aunt Kathy, and their daughter, my first friend here on the planet, Candi Lauretano (now Boyd after meeting the love of her life, Pat), lived just down the road from us where I grew up on Rosemary Street in Georgetown, South Carolina in the early 1970s (see photo below of me venturing out into the ‘Hood beyond the two spiky Yucca plants).

Joe Jackson’s song, ‘Hometown’ springs to mind and makes me sad and pine for that street and that town I grew up on and in, respectively, many a year ago (thank you, Joe, for this and many a brilliant song).

Uncle Teddy was like a father to me.

I looked up to him so much.

He was a great musician, a great cook, a great father, had a zeal and zest for life, and he loved my Mom and Dad and my sister, Melissa and me, all the way to the end.

I didn’t get to see the end though.

I think the last time we talked on the phone was probably 2 or 3 years ago.

I had thoughts over the past few months to give Uncle Teddy a call and check in.

I got so busy with my work and wrapped up in my own problems that I never followed through on those thoughts to reach out.

Note to self:

When you have a thought about reaching out to a friend or a family member to tell them how much they mean to you…

Just. Do. It.

Don’t hesitate.

So now…on the precipice of 2021, two months in on being a half century old, and shell shocked that my Uncle Teddy’s passed on to the next chapter of his life, I am remembering fondly the days when I got to spend some time around someone I consider a legend of our family.

I have so many great memories with my Uncle Teddy.

There were the oyster roasts out at my grandmother’s and grandfather’s house at 44 Park Drive in Myrtle Beach (see photos below of me and my cousin, Candi, again with our grandfather, Sammy Drew at that house; note reflection of my Aunt Kathy in the door panel in the 2nd pic).

There were beach days with all of us in Pawleys (see above circa 1974, note pre-Star Wars/Princess Leia😅), the all night Pork Roasting/Smokings at my Uncle Rick and Aunt Deedy’s and my grandmother’s place behind their house in Myrtle Beach.

There were also the epic Halloween parties at my Uncle Teddy’s and Aunt Kathy’s place in Hagley Estates in Pawleys Island, SC where Uncle Teddy would be dressed as Dracula (so wish I had a pic of that costume of his. It was a good one!)

All times spent with my Uncle and his family were such fond memories.

There is one visit though with my Uncle Teddy and my Aunt Kathy that I will never forget, and that SO shaped my life for the better that I thought I’d write about it briefly here today.

I’ve probably never spoken of this event to too many people outside my spouse and a few other family members.

But I think it speaks to the kind of person my Uncle Teddy was, and I want to share it with everyone.

I’ve already reached out to my cousins Candi and Nic, and my Aunt Kathy to make sure they’re OK with me sharing this story. They all agreed that I could.

And for that I thank you Aunt Kathy, and Candi, and Nic so much for this.

It was probably around this time of year and it was probably in the early 2000s.

I was newly married to my life partner, Chihiro.

We hadn’t had Matthew yet.

I was REALLY struggling in my graduate school program up at Penn State.

Chihiro and I’d just moved from Reno, NV where we’d both spent the better part of the last decade in the 1990s to State College, PA chasing my dream of being an environmental scientist.

I was pretty close to quitting graduate school at this point truth be told.

I’d lost all confidence in my abilities as a scientist in training.

I don’t think I was suicidal by any means, but I know Chihiro was really worried about me and my mental state, as was my Mom and Dad and my sis.

Somehow, and I’m not too sure about the details, but Chihiro and I went over to my Aunt and Uncle’s place in Pawleys Island, SC in the evening to just say hello and chat and maybe exchange a late Christmas gift or two.

Again, details are fuzzy inside my 50 year old brain.

In the course of the evening, talk rolled around to my mental state and not feeling adequate and ‘normal’.

I kept talking about ‘not being normal’ and wanting to feel like I was ‘normal’.

I was very emotional.

I don’t remember a whole lot from the talk.

I do remember my Aunt’s sweet and kind face and words and hugs and I also remember my Uncle’s also very sweet and kind face and deep penetrating brown eyes looking into mine and taking my hands in his and saying these words that I’ll never forget, ‘Drew, you’ve got to let go of the past. The past is the past. You can never go back. Let it go. Let it go.’

That was it.

A little over 20 words expressed to a family member ‘righted’ my ‘abnormal ship‘ so to speak at that right moment.

I think now how profound that moment was for me, and how thankful I am today that I got to share that moment with my Uncle Teddy.

I wish everyone who’s battling thoughts inside themselves of inadequacy and abnormality and just plain ‘I’m not good enough’ mentality to arrest those thoughts you’re having and start down a path of recovery and being more kind towards yourself and others.

The great irony in this story is that I don’t think my Uncle was able to take his own advice to me and turn it on himself.

I didn’t understand it at the time we spoke that night, but my Uncle Teddy had battled an addiction to alcohol that probably lasted his entire adult life and possibly dipping into his life as an adolescent. There was a traumatic event that happened early in his adolescence that I think led to that addiction. I can’t say for sure, but it was the loss of his younger brother to a gun accident. The details will remain beyond the scope of my writing today, but rest assured, my Uncle carried the burden of that loss his entire life. I imagine many of us, myself included, would have turned to a substance like alcohol to cope with that kind of excruciating pain.

My cousin, Candi, in showing her my writings for this post shared with me that a song that keeps coming up for her right now is Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’.

As I watched their video, after she told me this, I wept for a long while.

The video and the music and the lyrics are so powerful for these moments of dealing with the grief of losing a loved one.

Thank you, Candi, for sharing this with me. Thank you.

Again, my heart breaks for you and your brother, and your children.

So, in that moment where my Uncle Teddy looked into my eyes and spoke those 20 or more words to me, he was at the same time battling his own past and his own inabilities to let go.

It’s one of the most beautiful, loving, selfless acts that’s ever happened to me…getting that advice from my Aunt and Uncle that night.

That night chartered me on a road to recovery for my mind that had wandered into some rather unforgiving territory if you will.

We all need a little Uncle Teddy to look us in the eye and tell us we need to let go of the past and live our lives in the present moment.

To do otherwise is not being kind to the person you are right now.

Uncle Teddy somehow understood that at that moment for me, and he gave me an amazing gift that night…the ability to start to let go of some things in my past, and start to live more in my present.

Key word is ‘start’.

It wasn’t an instantaneous ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, so to speak, quite yet.

It was just the start down the path toward a ‘miracle on 34th street’.

So I want to say to my Uncle Teddy now, whose energy I believe is still vibrating through our Universe as I write this…

‘Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such a beautiful soul to me on my journey here on this pale blue dot.

I was warmed by your fire that I didn’t build (thank you Mark Shields for that beautiful analogy you shared on your last Shields and Brooks episode a few weeks ago. Click HERE for the link. An amazing moment in journalism if you haven’t seen it).

I was also warmed by the other fires you helped build, my Aunt Kathy, my cousin, Candi, and my other cousin, Nic, and their families.

All of them providing warmth in my life through the years when I really needed it.

Uncle Teddy, your legacy of kindness and compassion will live on in Aunt Kathy and in your children and your children’s children (Roux, Sybastian, and Luna) and me as I try to pass on your lessons to my son, Matthew, and my partner in this life, Chihiro.

I miss you and so want to hear that laugh of yours and your amazingly strong, commanding voice.

I think I have a few of your voice mails you left for me on my cell phone. I hope to get them retrieved and saved for all eternity.

You put alot of good into the universe, Uncle Teddy.

Thank you!

I will never forget you and will always be working to build fires that warm others in your name.

May your new jam session, wherever that is in the universe (probably next to Hendrix or Clapton) be epic 🙂 ‘ 🙏

Much love, your nephew,

Drew

Some thoughts on last and this week…

There’s a song from the 90s by The Verve that brings up nostalgia and melancholy in me like not too many other songs.

The title of the song is ‘Bittersweet Symphony‘ and, honestly, before writing this, I’d never studied the lyrics, knew what many of the lyrics were, or made any effort to find out what the song was even about.

All I knew was that its chords, its string arrangements, its crescendos were all beautifully haunting.

There’s another song from the 2000s by Brad Mehldau, my favorite jazz pianist after my son😊, with the same title, ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ (it’s obviously a cover😊) that I love. Mehldau’s piano arrangements are just stunning.

This song from Mehldau sums up my mood over last week and this week here in these United States of America.

There are no words to Mehldau’s cover.

It’s just him, eyes closed with his Steinway, playing this cover song to thousands of people on a stage in Vienna, Austria in 2010.

It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, outside of my wife and son and all those videos of dogs and cats living together 😊.

Thank you, Bill Murray, circa 1984 Ghostbusters😅

I hope you’ll give Mehldau’s video a watch.

After you do…I hope you’ll do just 3 things:

1. Remember how far we’ve come together on this pale blue dot as human beings working together.

2. Remember that we together as human beings have alot of work to do to save ourselves while we are all trying to survive on this pale blue dot. And I mean A LOT of work. So much work that no one will be unemployed. No one.

3. Remember that there are enough resources on this pale blue dot to take care of everyone here if we’ll only prioritize on doing so. Abundance trumps scarcity almost everywhere we look on this pale blue dot. If we put our minds to it, you and me, we can make sure everyone, no matter their bittersweet symphony in this life, can have food, water, shelter, education, and hope.

We are facing a watershed moment as they say in this country.

Will we unite or will we come apart?

I hope for the former, fear for the latter.

I beg all of us to choose uniting in these United States for the greater good of all of us living here on this pale blue dot of a planet.

We can do this.

We all have it within ourselves to love and turn away from hate.

If you need inspiration, the late senator John Lewis springs to mind.

His interview with Krista Tippett is one of the best interviews I’ve ever heard.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end, and thank you for considering love over hate, peace over fear, and kindness over violence.

Until next time, may your Bittersweet Symphony be brightened with hope and promise.

Drew

Yes, Virginia, Scientists Are Human.

Loved this story about the human side of science and how we can encourage all children to develop an interest into the fascinating world of how we learn and how we know things about this pale blue dot that we live on and the cosmos around it.

https://one.npr.org/i/918864226:918902097

Hope you might enjoy this story too.

We obviously have a long way to go in order for all children, regardless of their circumstance or where they come from, are ‘brought to the table’ so to speak.

Thanks for stopping by.

Drew

Liftable Moments

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Just finished this audiobook by Melinda Gates. Every chapter was riveting and yet repugnant in the sense that our history of how women have been treated on this planet is abominable. As I remarked earlier, I would not normally have been interested in a book about women. Again, not that I have anything against women, just that my reading interests usually center around science and self-help these days. But the blinders so to speak have been removed from my eyes and I found Gates’s book a profound and important read. I think the most heart wrenching stories for me came from Melinda’s accounts of the sex worker trade in India and how women there have so few choices to make to feed their children. If you can’t muster any sympathy for these women after listening to these stories, I’m not sure you’ll be able to muster sympathy for much else. We live in a world of competing sympathies I know. There is so much that vies for our attentions and our concern. I think the most poignant sentence in this book for me was Melinda’s revelation that women ultimately have a much greater ability to ‘absorb pain’ compared to most men. Not all men, just most. She wrote that sentence in the context of ending warfare for world peace. Women seem to have advanced abilities to not inflict ‘eye for an eye’ justice, rather justice that doesn’t continue the cycle of violence. We could definitely use Melinda’s moment of lift for all girls growing up on our planet, as well as all boys. We also need it for those whose gender is more fluid and not as easily defined by current cultural norms. We can do this. We have the capability as humans to sympathize and empathize with our fellow humans. My hope is that we can all use this ‘superpower’ of ours if you will to lift one another up and not tear each other down. I hope you’ll take a moment to listen/read this incredible piece of writing. Again, if only you have time for the 1st chapter it’s so worth it. Thanks for stopping by, Drew🙏 #melindagates #themomentoflift #thoughtsandthingsifindinteresting

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Some hope on the horizon

At a time when hope can seem like a rare commodity, I just discovered this black woman’s work in agriculture and wanted to share in the case you may not have heard about her.

I am renewed in spirit for what I see others doing around me like this farmer to bring that much needed hope to the masses (see links below).

I started listening to a podcast last night called ‘To The Best Of Our Knowledge’ from Wisconsin Public Radio, co-founded and hosted by Anne Strainchamps.

Absolutely wonderful journalism and storytelling.

They featured a black woman farmer by the name of Leah Penniman who farms in New York State.

The episode’s title ‘Growing Justice’ caught my eye (see link below):

https://www.ttbook.org/show/growing-justice

Leah’s story and her way of telling her own story is so inspiring.

After listening to her speak on the podcast interview I found her farm’s website (see link below):

Our Team

, and then a Today Show interview she did (see link below):

https://www.today.com/today/amp-video/mmvo73291845637

There is SO much hope that springs from her and those around her.

Had to share.

Would love to hear your thoughts if you get a chance to check out this podcast episode and/or this interview from The Today Show.

Pretty powerful stuff.

Turns out justice, dignity, respect, and yes, even money, does grow on trees, as well as the soil the trees are growing in.

Thanks for stopping by🙏

Link to a public post on my Facebook page (see below):

https://m.facebook.com/603705000/posts/10164762138990001?d=n&sfns=mo

Quick posts from Instagram and Facebook

Took a walk to get outside and found myself going inward 🙂 Thanks John Muir 🙂

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Been a while I know. Hope everyone’s hanging in there🙏 I’ve had some health and work issues that have prevented me from getting back to my 50 @ 50 challenge training. Hoping to resume here in the next few days. I took an early AM walk this morning down to the beach. Saw a few things that caught my eye and made me start thinking about the concept of resilience. I’ve been hearing that term alot lately. I’ve walked by the plants in these pictures many times since we moved to La Selva Beach back in 2011. 9 years this December. Hard to believe it’s been that long. The 1st plant growing right next to the railroad tracks is I think a lupine based on the pods and leaf arrangement. The other plant on the beach with the pretty purplish flowers is an unknown to me in terms of a name. I also liked the juxtaposition of the tiny purple flowering plant growing in nearly 0% organic matter soil (ie. Beach sand) next to an eroded storm water outlet structure that’s clearly had better days. What really stood out to me this morning was just how inhospitable (from my vantage point) the environment that these plants were growing, and, seemingly thriving. Blooming where we’re planted is often a phrase I hear about humans and how we must strive to make our lives meaningful where we are currently. These resilient plants are helping me see that today. I want to have roots that can thrive even in the most stressful of conditions. I have a lot to learn from these plants I think. My late friend Tricia McCauley would have probably had some interesting things to share about these plants. RIP dear Tricia. I better get to learning about these plants while I still have breath. Thanks for reading this, and, as always, thanks for stopping by. Kindest regards, Drew #resilience #earlymorningwalk #plantmoreplants #neverforgettriciamccauley #plantsaremagic #lookingup #plantshealingpeople #plantshealinglandscapes

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And, as always, thanks for stopping by,

Drew

Meditation, Atomic Habits, Hamilton, Michelle Obama, and Black Lives Matter

Started back meditating today.

It’s been a while.

Only 3 minutes, but it helped (above picture is what you get if you do the 3 minute ‘Breathe’ mediation on the Headspace App).

I’ve been rereading (actually listening to the audiobook for free on my Libby app thru my local library) a book called ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear that talks about just tiny changes to our daily routines that can really add up over many days, months, and years of developing these tiny habits.

The book is excellent and I highly recommend it.

I started developing not so productive habits over the past few months since getting some health diagnoses that held me back from exercising in the ways that I wanted to (running, biking, surfing).

I’ve had to rethink how I do exercise.

I’ve had to rethink a great many things.

In the interim, I finished watching the broadway play ‘Hamilton’ for the 1st time this week on Disney+

If you know me, you’ll know I am really not a big fan of the theatre.

I can definitely appreciate a good play with good actors, but it’s not something I particularly enjoy.

I’ve tried to figure out why I’ve felt this way about the theatre over the course of my life, but I’m not exactly sure why.

I think some of it may have something to do with growing up with two parents who were in the theatre and feeling a bit of pressure to try and please them. The pressure not coming from them, but just from the situation itself.

Some may be from an experience as a teenager trying out for a role and not getting it.

I think some of it may be working at a campground on my summers during college with my best friend where he and the bulk of the people I worked with were in a nightly play all summer long, and were just all so super talented at what they did and I just didn’t feel like I belonged in the group. Again, not from them. They tried to make me feel welcome. I simply chose not to feel welcome.

Again, just not sure on any one particular reason for my aversion.

Maybe like the message conveyed in Atomic Habits, it was a collection of atomic negative experiences that led to my own current thinking on the topic.

Regardless of the reasons, I’ve remained someone who resists going to the theatre to watch a play unless it’s my kid acting in it, or another family or friend.

My sister’s the complete opposite of me in this regard. She excelled in theatre as we were growing up together.

She’s been raving about this play to me for many, many years.

She took her whole family to see it live in New York. I didn’t quite understand why at the time it was so important to do so.

Now I do.

My wife told me last weekend it was streaming on Disney+ and that we should watch it together as a family.

The Hamilton wave finally crashed upon my shore.

And, my aversion therapy began.

Tuesday night of this past week I finished watching the cinematic filming of ‘Hamilton’; written and acted out by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I think Michelle Obama summed it up best when she said of Hamilton that ‘It was simply the best piece of art, in any form, that I have ever seen in my entire life!’ (4:52 into the video)

Michelle, I could not agree more with you on that assessment.

I echo your words a 1000 times over.

IT. WAS. THAT. GOOD.

I’ll be going back to the songs and the spirit of that play until my dying days I’m fairly sure.

My favorite song is Aaron Burr’s ‘Wait For It‘ sung by the immensely talented actor, singer, and dancer, Leslie Odom Jr.

Miranda’s masterpiece is a gift to the Universe, and our pale blue dot to not let our days here be spent without sharing our unique talents, without giving of ourselves to others.

My wish today is for us all to embody the spirit of Miranda’s Hamilton of working hard and spending time each day to love those around us, to bring kindness to those around us. To see that our Nation and all Nations here on this pale blue dot bring everyone together, and everyone along a path of compassion and respect for all beings, that we don’t exclude anyone.

Thanks as always for stopping by.

P.S. The #50at50challenge is still on. I have a little over 3 months to get ready. With my current health condition I may have to cut back a bit on the bike and running miles, and do more paddling miles.

We’ll see.

Will keep you all posted.

Thanks for your support.

I also, in the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and others, I feel the need to make this #50at50challenge an opportunity to bring more awareness to the plight of our black brothers and sisters and others who may not identify as a brother or a sister.

For every mile you run/walk/paddle with me (either remotely or in person) on October 14th, 2020, would you pledge with me to give $1 to a charity/non-profit of your choice working to end racism and hate and fear on our Pale Blue Dot?

Thank you🙏

#neverforgetgeorgefloyd

#neverforgetahmaudarbery

#neverforgetbreonnataylor

#blacklivesmatter

#learnyourhistory

#dontbeafraidofyourhistory

#watchhamiltonthemusicaltoday

#linmanuelmiranda

#alexanderhamilton

#michelleobama

#practiceloveandkindnesstoall

#50at50challenge