THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHIT AND CANDY

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Me and my beautiful friend, bad ass poet Elizabeth Powell, eating candy (and churros and ice cream) during our week teaching at the San Miguel Writer’s Conference. 
File this posting under “notes scribbled by a jetlagged insomniac.” My brother is coming over for breakfast this morning. I stayed up all night worrying I wouldn’t wake up to see him. Not like he wouldn’t have come and woken me, but you know, any excuse to stay awake obsessing all night. Also, while insomniacking, I wrote a little about the kids who walked out on Thursday, a little about living true, a little about shit, a little about candy. I think I’ll call this little jewel:
 
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHIT AND CANDY
 
I strive to respect all people, to open my heart and mind as much as possible to myriad ways of being, to live and let live. But the people I admire, the people who fascinate me, the people who make me want to be like them when I grow up, are the ones dancing precariously and courageously on the edges of life, living bizarrely and shamelessly and authentically in their own bodies, being unapologetically the truest version of self they can muster.
 
I’m not captivated by people who fall neatly into categories, who fit in, who don’t rumple feathers. I’m enthralled by people who fall between the cracks, who are misfits, who challenge the status quo by their very existence.
 
Cool kids bore me. Fitting in in suburbia will never appeal to me. Give me the kid with green hair slumped in the corner of the cafeteria dodging spit wads. Give me the madman in the tree house living off the grid and composing shit poetry. Give me the crazy lady on the street corner marching for justice. Give me the freaks. They are the ones who are moving evolution forward. They are the ones who make progress possible. They are the ones with courage enough to risk their lives to make their lives count for something.
 
I don’t understand exchanging truth for comfort. I don’t understand exchanging authenticity for popularity. I don’t understand settling for a life you didn’t want because somebody else said so, not when you’re going to die, not when this is your one and only truly blessed sacred existence, and the clock is ticking, and every moment you spend pretending is a moment you might as well already be dead.
 
But I guess if you say you have to get real and compromise and settle for shit you never wanted, you’re right. And I guess if you say you make your own reality and you never have to settle and you’re going to fight for what you love or die trying, you’re right. And I know I’m 46, and I was supposed to stop talking like this when I was 26, but I never did, because the fire in my heart that was supposed to go out got bigger instead.
 
And when I see those freaky kids walking out of their schools because they are young and dumb enough to still believe they can change the world, I cry for joy, and I pray to God that for the rest of their lives, at least five of them keep saying “fuck you” to anyone who tells them they’re wrong about that. And that they keep knowing walking up isn’t the same as walking out, and sometimes, most times, people use pretty words to say ugly things, to tell you to sit down and shut up and eat your goddamn plate of shit, and say thank you, because if they said it like that, no one would do it, but when they tell you the plate of shit is candy, well then, who doesn’t like candy?
 
Know the difference between shit and candy. That is the secret to life. Even when the whole wide world is screaming that shit is candy, trust your nose, trust your eyes, trust your gut. If it looks like shit, if it smells like shit, if you know in your heart you want something more, then call the shit shit, and make a stand, walk out, walk away, and let the chips fall where they may.
 
I can tell you from experience that there is no retributive cruelty, no alienation, no social excommunication that is so powerful that it can wash away the quiet peace that comes from knowing you have spoken and lived your truth at any cost. And I can tell you from experience that there is no accolade, no social acceptance, no wealth, no ease, no luxury that can wash away the soul shredding horror of knowing you are living a lie.
 
Live. True.
 
 
 

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