The Horse Brass Pub is busy tonight. The cold and wind outside feels miles away when you are sitting at a small table over a hot meal and a pint of cold, dark, heavy beer. That is very much what I’m in the mood for.
My usual “writing table” is occupied, so I’ve found a similar two-top just to the right of the door and around the corner to better avoid drafts. Looking out the window at the darkening sky and swaying leaves, I know I’ve only go so long before I need to head home and eat dinner. I sit myself down, leaning my walking stick against the wall and out of the way, tuck my cloak under myself, and start to write.
You Don’t Have Time To Not Enjoy Yourself
“Ok, Matt. Yes, we get it. Portland is weird, and you’re wearing a cloak, wearing a tweed vest and carrying a walking staff because you are all about #bighobbitenergy. It’s a little ridiculous though.”
Maybe. So what?
I’ve come to learn that those last two words are the “Expecto Patronum” spell when faced with anyone who wants you to take their opinions and criticism seriously. If they have anything more to go on, they’ll be able to communicate it- if not, they’ll goggle at you confused, wondering why you aren’t shriveling beneath the glare of their judgement. Feel free to use it widely and without mercy.
Now if anyone asked why I was wearing a cloak and carrying a staff, that’d be easy enough to answer. It’s a little cold out, it may rain, and I want to walk with the staff a bit and see if I need to adjust the grip or trim it or whatever.
Or, easier still, I would just tell them “It makes me happy today.”
Even easier, I could just ask “Why not?”
Something I have learned over the last couple years after dealing with a pandemic, a couple of physical and mental health crises, and few personal tragedies is that I no longer have time to do shit that doesn’t make me happy if I don’t strictly need to do it.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to piss off to some hippie commune, make yogurt and stop going to work (though if that’s your vibe, no judgement. You do you.) I’m a man living in our current age. I need to earn money and go to work. I need to pay bills and keep my nose clean (to an extent.) That doesn’t mean I have to stop doing the things that make me happy, OR pretend that they don’t. And as long as they aren’t bothering or harming anyone else, why shouldn’t I?
The fact is I am going to die someday. So are you. If all goes well, someday I’ll be lying in bed surrounded by my loved ones, listening to machines beep, and waiting to breath my last. Waiting for the final curtain to fall on this life and wash me out into whatever comes next. Lying in that bed, I don’t think for a second that I’ll regret not making Rando McFuckface happy with my attire on an otherwise rainy Saturday night in a pub.
I’ll be regretting every time my soul said “YES” and I said “no.” I’ll regret every time I lied to myself about who I was and what I loved. I’ll be regretting every time I bit my tongue and laughed along instead of put my foot down- OR kept my head down when joy was hurling itself at me.
After the last few weeks, I found myself saying “I need to go see my friends before they fucking die.” Hell, I need to go meet myself before that happens.
Who Would You Be If It Was Up To You? (It is.)
In her book “Braving the Wilderness,” Brene Brown drops the the truth bomb that “You belong anywhere you show up as your true self.” Citing Maya Angelou, “I belong everywhere- nowhere at all.”
Here’s a couple more important truths for you:
1. No one actually cares or is paying attention. We’re all wrapped up in our own worlds.
2. Anyone who IS being judgy is speaking from insecurity. THEY are worried about fitting in or being weird, and judging you is a defense mechanism. “I may not have it all together, but at least I’m not that guy in a cloak.” It’s common. You do it too sometimes. Next time you find yourself saying “Look at that ___ person over there,” ask yourself what it is YOU are worried about that’s making you pick on them.
Imagine for a moment if you could take all of these truths to heart right now. Accepting and acting on them this minute. Who would you be? What would you do? Who would you be if you didn’t know or care about “cool,” “proper” or any other nebulous list of requirements that don’t keep people safe?
Every good thing you will ever do or contribute will come from your creativity, authenticity, and unconditioned self. It will not come from the common, tried-and-true morass that everything else did. It will happen because you got weird with it, brought in something else, gave it a twist, or broke the rules about what people thought it should be.
The sooner you embrace that- fearlessly, without hestitation and with a manic grin on your face- the better. When you’re ready, I’ll be having a beer in Portland. I’ll be the one dressed like a NPC in a fantasy game.
Because it makes me happy.