Sorry For Feeling Good.
When I was young I wrote everything down. I wrote things down for myself and I wrote things down for other people. Lots of people did the same for me. I still have scraps of paper, song lyrics, and letters from my teens. I find bits stuffed into record sleeves, photo albums, and books all the time. Friends often text me photos of poems, cards, and love notes that I penned to them in what seems like another lifetime to me now. Some of the finds are funny. Some are troubling…written by the hands of people that are no longer here with me. Some of the poetry makes me cringe, but some of it makes me proud. Even if you had a note passed to you in school from a boy or girl that you would never “circle Yes” for, it still felt really sweet that someone liked you and they weren’t afraid to write it down.
When I was 13, I was on a vacation with my parents in the Poconos. I was at an arcade one night playing pinball by myself when I saw them. They were definitely skateboarders. And as far as their musical taste was concerned– James Mercer nailed it with one of the lyrics in his song “Mildenhall” (on 2017’s “Heartworms” LP) when he said, “I guess my shoes said I might relate.” If you were an awkward teenager who was into punk rock in 1993 then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Our shoes were like our secret code. If you had on a pair of Visions, High-Top Chucks, Docs, Airwalks, or Chinese style Mary-Janes, then you could find your people. And you could be sure that you’d be putting lots of miles on those kicks to do it because that shit was Not cool!
Eventually, and only after lots of sheepish and unnecessary shifting through the aisles, we introduced ourselves. They were called Mike and Fern (or bob). Cousins. Mike was a ginger who played the drums, which has always kinda been my thing, and Fern was like an alien lifeform who made quixotic statements and had great taste in music. They (or possibly it was just Fern?) had a punk/avant-garde band called Mao and the Chinese Revolution. That should tell you something about the ingenuity and intellectual capabilities of an alternative-thinking teenage mind in the 90’s right there. Mao Zedong was a Chinese Communist leader and not exactly a part of my middle-school curriculum. Or high-school. I learned about him and Communism from Fern. I went to the library and studied a foreign political party at the age of 13 because of two kids I met in an arcade one night. Needless to say, they ignited something inside of me and it caused me to make the connection, early on, that when you find people who do that to you, you keep them close- whether they live down the street from you or on another continent. In our case, we lived a few hours from one another but were too young to drive, and so we were, for many years, pen pals and confidants. There’s a mix-tape from Mike not 20 feet from me as I type this. That relationship still matters to me.
So what’s happened? We’ve entered an era where we’re constantly apologizing for our feelings as if they’re hurting people. Print is dead. People don’t remember how to use pens. No, really, they don’t. When I travel and have people write their information down in my notebook, 100% of the time, they remark that they haven’t held a pen in ages. But, what’s worse? A lot of people seem Scared to feel. To them, it’s too finite and indicative of some self-invented, presumed commitment. No one writes their feelings down on paper to share with others anymore. Text is King and it’s an abomination against the human connection. The choice to nurture feelings has become dependent upon distance and accessibility rather than the realization that you may have stumbled upon something magical.
I must’ve changed the title/song reference of this blog post a hundred time before publishing- but one of the songs I considered was Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” . I still feel this way about love and friendship. I indeed Do travel The Whole Wide World “just to find her.” Geography is but a series of land masses to be studied, not an obstacle impeding upon my ability to thrive and feel Good with someone. Sadly, my potential counterparts rarely feel the same way.
My declarations of adulation for the lovers that I take are rarely met favorably. The written word is feared. The intention of good will dies a presumptuous death. Compliments have turned dangerously razor sharp where once they stirred butterflies in iron stomachs. My poetry falls on deaf ears if it ever escapes my mouth at all.
If you are a star that shines so bright that you blind everyone on your path, Please. For Me. For You. Own that. Stop apologizing for Feeling Good. Don’t dim down for Anyone. The world needs you. I need you, to know that you’re out there, so that I can help light your way.
Quick Addendum: I still remember Bob and Mike’s last names and so I looked them up. Turns out Mike is a successful studio musician and Bob? He an Assistant Professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design. I’m forever amazed at the accomplishments of the free thinkers I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with in my time here.