Hello Darkness, My Old Friend


After reading some comments by my friends and about the darkness surrounding Medium and all of our lives in general, the VitaMix 5000* that represents my thoughts and emotions has produced the following manifesto on beating back the darkness.

And guess what? This battle symbolically starts on July Fourth, as we must rise as a nation to take back America at the polls this November.

#1 Build you own person wall of denial

Most people think of the five stages of grief as a process with a light at the end of the tunnel. But what happens when we can’t really be sure that Agent Orange, his legion of zombies, and the powerful but gutless and compliant Vichy 2.0 government (aka the Republican Party) will ever be stopped?

The answer is a form of absolute denial.

I’m not suggesting that it’s possible or effective to deny that Genghis Tang is actually president, or that he can’t do horrible things. But I can deny his ability to make me angry and unhappy but simply never listening to his voice or reading his tweets. We already know the content: lies, insults, and various ramblings that would get any other person committed to a mental institution.

I don’t follow Twitter, have a minimal contact with any other forms of social media. I don’t watch the news, and have almost completely turned off cable channel political shows. I did that for eight years under W, and the only thing I learned was that the right wing is a better idea generator than Hollywood (or the KGB, for that matter) when it comes to creating a new scandal almost every single day.

It doesn’t matter if they are real threats to our country or just a smoke screen of Orwellian double speak, because the whole plan is to wear down we the people with the sheer magnitude of bullshit delivered every day through your TV and various mobile devices.

My advice is to build your own personal social media wall and filter out all the criminals and rapists from your life. And if you really have to know what the White House and Congress are doing, try to read articles by foreign news services which don’t carry as much of the political bias seen in domestic media.

#2 Happiness is the best revenge

Stay focused on the things that keep you healthy and happy, because those are the things we have the best chance to control.

I admit, I waste a tremendous amount of time watching sports and good comedies, while reading and writing all over the internet. I also love to watch all kinds of apocalyptic dramas about zombies, Nazis, and corporate dystopias, because it makes me feel better knowing things can actually get a lot worse than they currently are in this country.

Besides, what movie could be more terrifying than having to face the unstoppable power of these soulless, brain dead creatures who will destroy everything we hold dear?

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Norman Cousins wrote an amazing book called “Anatomy of an Illness,” in which he described a completely different kind of medical response by checking himself out of the hospital and into a hotel across the street so his nights would not be interrupted every two to four hours for blood tests, and people checking on his condition. In addition, he took

extremely high doses of vitamin C while exposing himself to a continuous stream of humorous films and similar “laughing matter”. He later claimed that 10 minutes of belly rippling laughter would give him two hours of pain-free sleep, when nothing else, not even morphine could help him.

While I am in no way saying that we stop seeing doctors, the moral of the story is that you can do a tremendous amount of good for yourself by finding ways to make yourself happy.

#3 Never forget your family

Being angry and depressed for eight years is not a good way to maintain healthy family relationships. And family is the one thing you can count on.

Even though I lost my mom back in 2009 (coincidentally on the fourth of July), she is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s so much easier to look back on the good things after we’ve lost someone, but it takes a lot of work to keep focus on all the good things while we’re dealing with the daily problems of life, and the competing interests of spouses, children and friends.

In celebration of family and America’s birthday, here’s a little story about my family that has endured for over fifty years, and may be around long after I’m gone.

My mom wasn’t really stylish or poetic, but she was pretty damn funny, often by accident. When she was first married to my dad, he had a job delivering the L.A. Times to people’s houses by car. In response to the post WWII population boom, people built small guest houses behind existing houses, or duplexes — free standing structures split into two units that share a common wall — to meet the demand.

With this type of apartment configuration, you might have to go up a driveway past the front unit in order to deliver the paper to one of the units further back. And new addresses had to be added between the numbers already designated. So the post office broke down these numbers into halves or quarters (e.g., when I was a kid, we lived at 529 1/2 N. Sycamore Avenue).

These factors created a lot of confusion and the possibility that papers could be delivered to the wrong apartment.

My mom’s job was to call new subscribers on the route to make sure that they were receiving the paper every day by a certain time, and that the paper was being delivered to the correct location. Otherwise, they might cancel.

As she went through her list of new subscribers, she came upon someone who specifically requested that the paper be delivered to the back porch of the property.

My mom dialed the number, identified herself and innocently asked the question “Mr. Jones, are you getting it in the rear every morning?”

#4 Think locally, act locally

Whether it’s a school board, a sheriff or a congressional seat, work to change something in the here and now. The story of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is only one of many, but many of them did not succeed. I only heard the story about Jeff Beals — a true progressive running in New York’s 19th Congressional district Democratic primary — on a podcast two days ago.

His story shows that we have to create an overwhelmingly massive grass roots movement in order to overcome the power of money in politics. While I hope Delgado beats his opponent in November, I despise the way progressive ideas supported by a huge majority of all Americans are being silenced during the primaries:

This podcast by This American Life is a sobering report on how messed up the Democratic Party and why Sanders supporters became so angry in the 2016 primaries:

We have to find an army of young progressive candidates from those school board members, sheriffs and dog catchers so that no individual set backs can stop the overall progressive wave moving forward.

Have a Happy Fourth!

*Only $499.95 at Costco! Ridiculously expensive, I know, but if you make your own smoothies, frappuccinos and chai lattes, instead of buying one every work day at your local coffee hangout, it pays for itself in about four months. Plus, it makes soup, ice cream and blends ice, which your lower end mixers can’t. My wife bought it almost ten years ago, and it has paid for itself ten times over.

Written by

Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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