It’s the last day of 2020!

Nick and I were lounging in bed last night, post-workout, musing that the idea of New Years Resolutions feels a little silly, right now.

“I mean, resolving to finally move to the nicest, best place on earth is off the table now,” he quipped.

“Resolving to keep our wits about us, in the event a national or global hysteria sweeps the populace like wildfire, and, like…stay grounded instead of getting caught up in a whole big rhetorical fap fest, is also already taken,” I contributed.

“And everyone’s fucked on the whole ‘I’m gonna lose ten pounds’ resolution, this year.  Since all the gyms are closed.”

“Oh man, that’s right.  And as we all know, the armada of treadmill machines at the gyms represent people’s only chance to lose ten pounds.  I mean, before treadmills were invented, everyone was just fat.  Do you remember that?”

Nick sniggered.  We’re not actually assholes — we’re just so sad that everyone is brainwashed into thinking cardio is this panacea, and that if cardio fails them, it must only be because they haven’t done enough.  Awful.  It’s actually like the new prayer and self-flagellation, puritanical style.

In fact, Nick did a cardio circuit class with his little sister when he was back home for Christmas — this was, like, a major act of big brotherly Christmas cheer on his part — and the class was essentially the answer to someone, somewhere, asking, ‘How can I make a thousand dollars, using only these three cones, a yoga mat, a really light kettle bell, a rowing machine, and a half-Bosu ball?’

“I think I’ve been holding on to water ever since,” Nick complained bitterly, last night between non-cardio, non-timed, entirely strength-focused and not frenzy-focused squat sets, pulling petulantly at the skin covering his rippled abs.  “Shit like that just spikes your cortisol, makes you so hungry you end up eating more calories than you burned, and prevents you from recovering from any actual work you may have done in the gym otherwise.  And the whole paradigm is so hyper-focused on weight loss that there’s no way you can perform in one of those classes if you’re not eating.  You’ll just fucking collapse.  It’s like one step forward two steps back.  Madness.”

“That sucks,” I said, enjoying the warm, late-December, Hawaiian night air despite Nick’s recounted travails.

“Look at this.  Look at this water!,” he said, pulling at his skin.  “I swear to god it’s from that class.  And you know the worst part?  Everyone in that class was at least ten pounds overweight.  Everyone.  Like, there were some gals that could be really pretty?, but they’re just kind of chonky, and they’ll never not be chonky if they keep doing that bullshit instead of lifting.”

“Ughh!,” I exclaimed.  That thought actually hurt.  I hate people not feeling like they have control over their bodies and weight, especially young gals, to whom it matters so much.  That’s the worst.  So, you know that famous Conan the Barbarian quote?:

Q: Conan, what is best in life?

A: To see my enemies driven before me, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

Classic!  I made a meme last month, adapting this for Trump, but no one thought it was funny, and now I’ve cancelled all my social media so fuck them anyway.  Back to my point, though — I think the girl version of this, at least for my sensibilities, is:

Q: Women, what is best in life?

A: To wear any style of clothing, given the occasion, the temperature, the season, and my mood, with reasonable success, because my body is healthy, strong, and in thriving equilibrium, and it shows.

Looking at all these beautiful clothes in the world but having to choose styles and colors you don’t really want, because of fat you nearly kill yourself trying to lose, but the whole wrong way because you don’t know any better — so awful!  It’s just one big cardio mainstream narrative that no one even thinks to question.

Nick did his set and then while we were changing back to my weights, said, “Okay, so earlier in the gym, I was sharing the squat rack with this younger kid who was pulling deadlifts on the platform, and I asked if I could just rotate in for shoulder presses between his sets.  He was only, like, in his early twenties, and he was pulling 405!  And he’s only been lifting a year, he said.”

“Damn!  Good on him.”

“Totally!  And then he goes, ‘Man, you’re pressing more than I bench!’  And I was like, ‘Well I better be, I’m like ten years older than you!’  He was really nice, and working real hard.  But anyway, then we were talking in the locker room and he goes, ‘Alright — I’m going home to do some cardio,’ and like, patted his belly.  And he had some fat on him.”

I was getting set up for my squats but I turned around and said, “Nooooo!”

“Yeah.  And I was like — look man.  I know I’m just some asshole you met at the gym…”

“Some asshole who looks like every dude wants to look, and presses more than he benches!,” I corrected.

Nick laughed, happily.  “Babe!  Anyway, but I said: don’t go home and do cardio.  Go home and eat a ton of food.  And then take a nap.  And then maybe go for a walk when you wake up from your nap.”

I nodded and turned back around to get my ten squats.  Then I was done and we were loading the bar back up for his next set, and Nick continued, “I wish I could just convince these young guys, ‘Don’t get shortsighted.’  You know?  They’re all trying to get abs instead of adding another 25 pounds to their lifts.  It’s like: just get those numbers up and you’ll have abs every day for the rest of your life, no matter what you do or what you eat.  You won’t even be able to help it.  Just get strong.”

So yeah.  On the next-to-last day of 2020, even with everything that happened this year, I guess the thing that makes us just about the saddest is that people still worship the false god of cardio, as everyone gets helplessly fatter and fatter.

One thought does occur to me, though, relative to New Years Resolutions, and that is some advice from Sadhguru: let your relationships with other people be all, and only, a way to experience your own excess of joy.  I was listening to Sadhguru on shuffle, the other day, sitting in the huge bathtub in the mostly-outdoor bathroom, combing out Buffy’s tangles with the help of a huge bottle of conditioner.  The bathroom is really interesting — the sink and counter and toilet are in a more traditionally tiled and roofed part of the house, and then you go through a translucent door to a little add-on, and it’s painted like a jungle mural inside. The walls don’t go all the way up, though, so it’s just screens to keep the bugs out, the top three feet, and then a clear plastic corrugated roof thing.  So you can see the trees and flowers swishing around, and feel the breeze on your skin.  The floor is dark tile, the color of volcanic rock, and the foliage outside matches the jungle mural.  It’s my favorite place in the house, possibly.  One shower head is mounted on the wall, another larger on is on the ceiling in case you want the experience of warm rain, and then the water for the tub comes out of a cleverly themed bamboo spout.

So Buffy and I were in this tub, in about four inches of warm water, just combing combing combing away, and I’ve really been enjoying Sadhguru’s perspective lately.  I align naturally with his perspectives about bodily integrity, certainly.  He advises people keep it simple in terms of anything to do with physical consumption — food, lovers, chemical influences.  The body is a memory machine, and easily becomes overwhelmed if constantly changing sex partners or rich foods are thrown at it.  Eventually you stop being able to truly laugh or truly cry, he says.  It is a morality based on integrity and self-optimization, not external societal factors.  I don’t think any guru can question the value of external societal pressures like an Indian-from-India guru, right??

But yes, this idea of surrendering the idea of relationships as serving any need at all except to be vectors of my enjoyment of my own overflow of good feelings, feels like a particular sort of relief from I’m-not-even-sure what conflicting idea.  When I look at it that way, I really do have an over-abundance of joy and good feelings, especially lately.  I mean, I’m just very happy.  I’m so satisfied with the choices I’ve made this last year, and with the results of misaligned choices I made in ignorance, that didn’t work out, but somehow led me here anyway.  The only way Sadhguru’s perspective wouldn’t work out for me is if I didn’t, actually, have an overage of joy or good feelings with which to infuse my relationships, and in that case it would be my issue and not the issue of the relationship, right?

So it’s a complicated enough idea, and a simple enough idea, and a challenging enough idea, that I’m going to make it a central meditation of 2021.  That’s as good a resolution as any.  I do like the way it reverses my impression of the “flow of goods” in my relationships.  It’s easy to default into this “you flow stuff to me” mindset, and Sadhguru’s advice reminds me that the real juice of life is where I flow stuff to them.  Oh yeah!

Nick and I did our first little acoustic music jam session, last night, here in the new house.  That’s a big bandaid to rip off, just in the sense of locating our instruments, after the big move, pulling them out of their cases, tuning up the strings, finding the capos or picks or amp cables or whatever.  Sometimes I think the difference between having a music practice and not having a music practice is as simple as whether you keep your guitar in the case or out, on a stand.  We met this guy in line at the grocery store who owns a pub in Honoka’a (our little town), and he invited us to come on down for maskless karaoke on Saturday nights.  We got really excited because we both like to sing, and then got even more excited wondering if it could represent a live music venue for us!  We’ve never played live together, although we’ve both played live separately in different incarnations.

A big treat for me is that Nick’s enjoyment of Chris Knight finally reaches some critical threshold, and has now spilled over into a desire to learn the chords and cover his stuff.  I floated Chris Knight past Nick well over a year ago, and of course liking his music is a no brainer, but it can take a minute to really feel the hit.  Chris Knight is the unlikeliest famous musician ever.  Grew up in Slaughters, Kentucky, in a coal mining town; got his first guitar in high school; was a foreman in the mines by the time his first album came out; I think still lived in a single wide trailer house by the time the second album came out.  Has this knack of saying EVERYTHING in just a few words.  And the chord progressions are by no means difficult, so it’s a great starting place for Nick and I.

So yeah, Nick tended not to listen to country music on his own, the last two years, because it reminded him of me and made him sad.  We’ve had a lot of ups and downs.  But I guess it’s a testament to how ‘up’ things have been that he felt like listening to a lot of country, and a lot of Chris Knight, on his trip back east.  All you gotta do is give Chris Knight’s lyrics your attention and bam, you’re hooked:

There’s cryin in the kitchen, there’s running in the hall

Daddy’s Winchester wasn’t hanging on the wall

And it didn’t feel like Christmas very much at all

Momma set me to choppin wood before the snow

She said, ‘Daddy’s gone to Richmond and that’s all you need to know’

I said, ‘I wanna know why Carla’s got that blood on her clothes’

Carla came home middle of the night

Sunglasses on and tears in her eyes

Carla came home but not just for Christmas time

When Carla met Tom Walker, Daddy said, ‘He ain’t no count’

He’d grab his gun and go huntin, when she’d bring him to the house

Well something tells me Tom Walker is out of the picture now

Carla came home middle of the night

Sunglasses on and tears in her eyes

Carla came home but not just for Christmas time

Well, they quit searching for my brother in law

They gave him a week, then they called in the dogs

Well there ain’t nobody gonna miss him, ‘cept maybe his mom

I mean, come on.  If those aren’t the best lyrics ever, then I don’t know what.  Here’s another, and this is the one we were working on last night:

I caught a .22 bullet in my thigh one night

Tryin to break up a bar room fight

Got home, dug it out with my old Case knife

I broke down in a blizzard on the great divide

Walked 20 miles til I caught a ride

The trooper said, ‘Boy it’s a wonder you’re still alive’

I’ve rode hard luck, I’ve been bruised and bucked

I’ve been hittin the ground, turning around, and gettin back up

Well they’re layin ‘em off down in Kankakee

And there’s boards on the windows up and down the street

And they’re sayin that it’s gonna get darker before the dawn

Well you can bet your ass I’ll keep the lights on,

Keep my babies fed and throw my dog a bone,

Cuz I’m a bring it on, get ‘er done, don’t run SOB

Times are tough, but they ain’t got nothin on me

I just love, incidentally, that I’ve seen Nick’s true colors this year and he’s seen mine.  Our earlier, pettier dramas got overshadowed, real quick, by the fact that we might want to seriously think about who’s gonna have our back, in the face of the great unknown, as was the case in March.  Whether it was my money or his, my job connections or his, my ideas or his, my strength or his, we put our resources together again and again to benefit each other and to steer our boat through the storms.  Working on these Chris Knight songs, with the idea of playing out around here if we can, feels so so good, because it’s not just words, coming from Nick’s mouth when he sings.  He’s got that bring it on, get ‘er done, don’t run SOB energy to him and I wouldn’t give him up for the world.  Oh, that reminds me — I have to share these lyrics.  Nick really wants us to cover this Chis Knight song in particular, and he wants to quip, “Chris Knight actually wrote this one about me”.  It’s not an exaggeration; Nick’s life has been quite the deal.

There oughta be a town somewhere named for how I feel

I could be the mayor down there and say “Welcome to Sorryville”

It wouldn’t be on a map nowhere, you might say that it don’t exist

But if you make enough wrong turns, it’d be hard to miss

There oughta be a bridge somewhere they could dedicate to me

I’d prob’ly come to the ceremony with a can of gasoline

Walk on over to the other side, and there I’d light a match

Sit starin’ through the smoke and flames, wonderin’ how I’m gonna get back

Why do I do the things I do?

Was I born this way, am I a self-made fool?

I shoot the lights and I curse the dark

I need your love but I break your heart

And I know the words that’d bring you back

But I don’t say nothin as I watch you pack

I had to work to be the jerk I’ve come to be

It ain’t easy bein me

There oughta be a sideshow act for freaks like me

I could be the star of the show with my name on the marquis

In a room with a big red button that says ‘Danger, Do Not Touch’

Twice a day I’d mash it down and you could watch me self-destruct

Why do I do the things I do?

Was I born this way, am I a self-made fool?

I shoot the lights and I curse the dark

I need your love but I break your heart

And I know the words that’d bring you back

But I don’t say nothin as I watch you pack

I had to work to be the jerk I’ve come to be

It ain’t easy bein me

Yep, good ole Chris Knight.  Love that guy.  I only meant to quote a line or two but I can’t help myself!  Ah!  Well, them big wheels of rubber gonna rub her off of my mind, I’m a highway junkie and I need that old white line… So good!!

So yeah.  I told Nick yesterday: “If we can just get ourselves up and playing live, regularly — no matter how small the venue or bad we are — I’ll be happy on a whole new level.  It’s like a big huge box that’s gone un-checked for a long time, that could maybe be checked.  I’m so excited.  I want it so much.”  Not any particular outcome, either!  I just want to feel that flowing through me again, and on stage with him, in a song with him, would be ultimate, and I’m sure the sound would come along and get better and evolve and all that.  We’re both mega-rusty, musically, but we both have that hunger.  And we’re reasonably charismatic, imo.

So!  The instruments are out, and tuned, and we have a big-enough but focused-enough project to start with — the Chris Knight covers — and possibly even a venue, and that just tickles me pink.  I’m fully expecting a magnificent 2021, because I expect the Constitution to hold up, and those of us who prefer a Constitutional republic to help hold it up, and incidentally or perhaps even most importantly, each of us getting up in our energy, up in our vibration, up in our love, reversing the thrall of the victim narrative, the everyone-else-is-responsible-for-my-happiness navel-gazing that’s been sloshing around the United States of Bathtub.  (Oh, did you hear?  98% of straight men won’t date trans-women…because of hatred.  Hatred, pure and simple.  How dare anyone not experience powerful, primal attraction evoked by someone’s new gender that they just slapped on like a bandaid!)  I get it — the Millennial generation is pretty fucking wounded, and no wonder.

So yeah, an internal New Years Resolution for me is, I guess, to frame my relationships — all of my relationships — as being, really, not much more than persistent excuses to experience my own overflow of joy.

And an external New Years Resolution is to become a channel for music again, in whatever way or ways feel right!  Mm.  I feel like we could be a bit hit on the Big Island 🙂