Not-So-Suddenly Seymour

little-shop-of-horrors-3

So there’s a guy. He’s a normal guy working at a plant shop in a somewhat run-down part of town in a plant shop. He’s been there a long time, working for a boss he somewhat likes and mostly loathes.

It is this character, Seymour, that we learn to identify with in this movie. We want something better for him. We want him to get the girl he likes, the nice house in a good neighborhood, and all the other things we want for ourselves.

So it comes to pass that this plant somehow magically appears from outer space as far as we know. Seymour is growing the plant and nurturing it, but it won’t grow. After a while, he figures out that he has to feed the plant blood to  nourish it.

This should have been a clear sign that things should stop, but he was finally getting a bit more success and attention, so the plant had to be fed.

Eventually, the plant needed more than his blood, but he has a conscious. A soul. He can’t do it… until he finds someone so repulsive that he can bear to kill them and feed them to the plant. The guy is abusive to his love interest. Surely, this makes sense and it is justified. We feel you, Seymour.

However, the one body isn’t enough. The plant must feed and Seymour must help. It grows and starts to encourage Seymour’s desires to be powerful and have good things. Seymour then feeds it his boss. Not directly, of course. He lures him in, gets him into a certain position, then watches as the plant eats his boss alive.

However, this new body is also not enough. Finally, the plant, having gained the power it needs, tricks the love interest into coming to the shop, because here’s the thing: it’s been helping Seymour, but only as a means to serve itself.

Seymour, who fed this plant body after body, draws the line at his love interest. You can’t do this to Audrey; she’s mine. So he tries to fight the plant and that’s when the plant reveals, in song, it’s ultimate plan and true nature.

This is where things get tricky. We like happy endings, so the movie gives us one. This plant , powerful beyond comprehension, is defeated by this one man and he and his love interest live happily ever after…

…except that’s not what actually happens. Here’s what actually happens. Watch it.

This isn’t a story with a happy ending. This is a story about a man who wanted power so badly that he was talked into sacrificing others.

This is a story about the very thing he fed – which was not looking out for anything but itself – grew large enough to consume him, multiply, infect the minds of others and encourage them down the same path.

This is a story of feeding something you don’t understand and believing that, because it benefits you, it is benevolent.

This is the America that voted Trump into presidency.

What will you do now, Seymour?

A Caring Soul

FullSizeRender

This past week I spent a bit of time between my normal work duties chatting with some of the guys around the office about just their day-to-day. What I ended up with was a gentle reminder that any effort I make to make sure the people around me feel cared for is not time wasted.

I wish this were a thing that happened everywhere, but for all the talk in the industry regarding soft skills, there seems to be no consideration at all that whatever you do to your clients should be done to the people you work with internally as well.

Maybe we could benefit from that thought. Maybe we should apply it.

This Election In Free Verse: Part II

read for yourself. ignorance is bad.

Read.

It’s been about two weeks now since Trump became the President Elect and every day that passes proves my grieving more correct than even I wanted to be.

At some point during this election, people had their anger manipulated and took that anger to the polls instead of reason. They said they were the normal people, the working class, the silent and oppressed America. They said we made their children soft, called them racists and xenophobes for merely speaking their mind, emasculated their men, and eroded the values on which this nation was founded. They had to put a stop to it.

I cannot fathom having the ability to look past the blood and bodies and tears of so many to make a vote just so people will stop calling me names and be nice to me.

Hillary didn’t give them the voice they felt they needed. She was too much like what had already ruined everything. Too liberal not to mention democrat. Enough was enough. They couldn’t bother with a 3rd party vote because that wasn’t realistic. So they went to the polls and they voted the only person they felt would uproot this rotten, oppressive flow of everything awful.

And here we are with Nazis – erm, national populists – in an advisory position to the highest office in our nation and one of the most powerful in the world.

While I can understand that some people would have liked a different conversation on the topics of race, oppression, social justice, and other related issues, I cannot fathom having the ability to look past the blood and bodies and tears of so many to make a vote just so people will stop calling me names and be nice to me.

However, here we are because enough people had that same choice and made it only proving the outrage of so many to be completely founded. Yet, for all of this, there is something I fear only a bit more.

See, a bunch of people were able to vote for Trump because they had padding. Hillary was an open target with this email scandal and cold personality and all, so of course voting Trump was a good idea. She was heavily steeped in years within politics, so of course she’s corrupt. Right?

But now Trump has to stand alone. On his own merit. We knew he had none to truly speak of, but Hillary just couldn’t be a thing, so we shrugged off the locker room talk, the racism, the misogyny and laid a path for him straight into office. Well, now he has to step up and take his place as a leader. Here is an indicator of how he is doing so far:

This is where the largest question for me lies. Going into the office, we see inconsistencies and the tweets of a teenager (to be kind), but at some point, that silent-but-oppressed majority are going to have to confront Trump as he is and not as they wanted him to be.

When he is not who they hoped he would be, who will they blame for it?

  • They can’t blame Trump. He was every bit of who he said he was.
  • They can’t espouse the values of the populists because they are obviously bad.
  • They can’t bring themselves to admit they were wrong.

That leaves the rest of us who are already grieving because we knew what was at stake. So what then? What will happen when that silent-but-oppressed majority of people are made to suffer the same fate that they voted us into thinking to make things better for themselves?

What then?

This Election In Free Verse

read for yourself. ignorance is bad.

Read.

The grief hit me on the way home on election day and I couldn’t help thinking about how, no matter how things went, everyone was going to hurt.

Everyone.

I started to pray and the more I did, the more I felt like crying. It felt like something long coming. The stock market started crashing around the 60th electoral vote for Trump. I kept the page on, refreshing, not to see what the result would be, but to see how deep it ran.

That’s what happens when you’ve been paying attention. I woke up the next day to messages, mostly of surprise and shock, from every quandrant I live on (excepting Facebook). I felt conflicted because I felt nothing.

No shock, no surprise. Just… nothing.

I felt conflicted because I felt nothing.

I remembered the news for the last few years and the sentiments I’ve seen crossing social media about so many different social issues and they could be summed up as:

  • People being angry for being called privileged.
  • People being angry at being oppressed.
  • People being fed up with abuses of power at the civic levels.
  • People being angry at mainstream media for the way reporting has been handled.
  • People being terribly misinformed about social issues and what the implications of ignoring them are.
  • People being inflexible of mind and heart and unwilling to listen to… well… anyone.

None of this is recent. This is 2014. This is 2001. This is where the bodies and the blood and the anger led.

I wonder about the 6.6M or so people that voted for no one at all. Not even a 3rd party. They went to the polls and voted, but not for a presidential option. I wonder about the people that normally don’t vote that showed up to this one. I hear they were normal people who were tired of being made to feel bad about being white, straight, and male.

I try to imagine what it is like to be terrified for your life for any number of reasons and then watch as someone votes to bring that terror to power because they don’t like being called a name. I try to imagine being able to say things like this:

I think about the last time I felt either of those things and remember that, when I did, someone died. I then try to see things from his point of view and have to wonder as well: what would have happen if we had chosen a means of starting the necessary conversations that was less angry, more considerate, less militant. What then? Would that have helped?

Based on that, there’s a lot to be said about what we voted for, but I only want to mention the largest one which is this: we are in this together now.

I wonder if that would have been heard. So far, it hasn’t. o far, soft gets dismissed as drama and being too harsh gets people to lie in wait for voting day and make themselves known then.

I’m not a political science major, so for Clinton and for Trump alike, I only have what they said in this election season to gauge them on. Based on that, there’s a lot to be said about what we voted for, but I only want to mention the largest one which is this: we are in this together now.

I wonder if you can hear a chant of “my body, my voice” through blood. Through a body. Across an ocean. Through a wall of paper.

Whether we wanted it or not, whether we regret it or not, for better or worse and until the next four years are gone, we are in it now and we have to work through it even if we have to work through it with people that get make my mom text me at 9:30AM to ask if I’m OK. Even if we have to work through it surrounded by people that make my mom ask me to call her the moment I land somewhere just to let her know I’m alive.

I want to ask the people that voted for Trump because he wasn’t Hillary or because they felt disenfranchised how they feel. I hear that many of them don’t like or espouse what Trump stands for, but they saw no other alternative to make their voices heard.

I wonder if you can hear a chant of “my body, my voice” through blood. Through a body. Across an ocean. Through a wall of paper.

And then I return to my convictions and my basis of faith and I have to ask: how am I going to keep loving them, too. I don’t get exempted from that responsibility during wars or elections in spite of what people might tell you or behave like.

I’m a kaleidoscope:

  • I want everyone to listen and respond instead of reacting.
  • I want people to recognize issues and deal with them.
  • I want people not to fear for their lives.
  • I want to be angry, but I’m not even surprised, so I don’t know.
  • I want a world safe enough for my mom not to be concerned about me. I’m 34 right now.
  • I want my friends to not be terrified of existing.
  • I want to not have potential nazis in office.

Am I not as normal as these disenfranchised people? Don’t I have that right to peace? How do I even process this?

When do I get to stop asking?

I don’t know y’all. I don’t know.

Dance

sex-differences-april1

No, not that kind of dance, but the kind of thing where the answer is: both and neither.

In a time where people have very strong opinions about everything and have just as strong a tendency to be unwilling to hear both sides of a story, I want to remind you all that sometimes the answer is a dance between things we perceive as opposites.

Truth is always that, but in terms of dealing with most of life, we aren’t answering questions of absolute things, but rather relative things. Try to find a place where you can embrace as much as possible.

For example: happiness.

Do you need to feel happy all the time to be a happy person?

No.

Does dealing with depression mean you aren’t happy at all?

No.

There are no laws for this sort of thing. It is a dance. I am happy sometimes and sad at others. People have been touched by depression and lead happy, fruitful lives. They are doing it right now.

So can you.

Before you batten the hatches and draw the battle lines, take your feelings and your thoughts and step onto the ballroom floor, then allow those things to be free and flowing as they are. You can be constant and at peace while you process them and watch them pass.

Helping Hands

FullSizeRender

Sometimes your sweat and tears become what makes someone else fertile.

When that happens, I hope you remember what it was like to think you’d always be grounded.

Sometimes, you’re dry ground waiting for rain.

When that happens, I want you to know, the clouds are waiting for your permission.

 

 

Storytelling: Part I

Connecting+the+dots+page

Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent a bit of time steeped in storytelling. Specifically, at the prompting of a friend and my own curiosity, I’ve taken up the mantle of Dungeon Master for a game of D&D.

I wanted to share all of that excitement with lessons I learned about this experience so far:

  1. Every story is told on the shoulders of a giant. There’s a lot I could have done wrong, but I didn’t because I had access to the experiences of others. I learned about things that make the story hard to enjoy or engage with. It let me go further. While my story is uniquely my own (and fabulous if I do say so myself),, it has a history and an ancestry, too. So does yours.
  2. Stories are a collective effort. I had my ideas, but then these players – five of them total – took this story and interacted with it and it became big. Breathtaking. I spend a lot of time how on earth I even got into this wonderful thing. Here’s the takeaway: your best ideas will bring other people into the fold. Remember: your vision grows in proportion to the relationships you can gather around it.
  3. Great and good are very different things. I could have made a story that is just enjoyable and full of combat, but that’s not my style. I enjoy depth to a story, so there’s a lot of elements in this campaign that make people question what they experience and who they are as people. That brings the best out of my players from what I’ve seen. There is a distinct difference between moments that you enjoy and moments that you both enjoy and remember. I’m going for the latter and that has made me have to make things not easy in this story. The challenge is worth it and I think that’s what is making this story a great one.
  4. Remember to be normal, too. I asked my players to tell me what their characters like to do in their free time. What they aspire to in life. What would make them happy or sad. That dimension is important because your characters in game aren’t just chess pieces or pawns in battle. They live and breathe. Just like us. That adds an interesting angle that allows you to bleed in reality when you want to while also providing the escapism we all enjoy in games like this.

So then: how are you telling your storiesWhat stories are you telling? Who are people becoming as they listen?