The question I come back to time and time again is, "Why are we here?" I mean humans. What are we doing here? How are we supposed to live our lives? What are we supposed to do? What do we want when we leave? Big questions that inform most of what I do.
When I was 18 my brother died of AIDS - this was when people were just figuring out that there was this plague in our gay communities. Liz Taylor had not even come out with her symbolic red ribbon. People didn't really understand what was happening or they used the opportunity to say some really horrible things about wiping out the population or that they deserved it. All of that didn't matter so much as the fact I was losing my brother. One of my favorite people on the planet. He taught me to read, bought me my first bike and taught me to drive. I was 12 years younger than him and although he was "an artist" and a bit of an egomaniac at times, I always knew that I was special to him.
His death, more than any other traumatic thing that has happened to me over the years (and the list is too darn long) has informed my life view. Which is, life is short, make everyday matter.
That's it. We only get a very short time and we don't even know how long that time is going to be. It is the ultimate game actually. We can try to make it all more meaningful, pretend we are going to get some big reward when we die, or bargain to make it right - but in the end we only get each day that we have. That's it.
For some that might be a pessimistic or hard way to live, but I find it liberating. I can make choices based on the fact that I know I have a finite amount of time. Sometimes I do better at this then others, but that is also part of the process - seeing what works and what doesn't and refining it over and over.
Today would have been John Lennon's 71st birthday and his song Imagine is also part of my complex world view. Just the idea that if there was no heaven, no hell, no religion, no clinging to things - what would that look like? That idea or possibility informs how I talk to people, the decisions I make, and where I want to go next.
I know that when people look into my life they may see want or lack of things, but that isn't what I am interested in because I know, only too well, that things aren't going with me. My hope is to connect with people. Make an impact on a life. Feel the interconnectedness of all of us. That relationships, above all else, really do matter.
I am sad that it took losing someone to show me my path, but maybe that was all part of it too.
Photo: My brother, Christopher, and I on 4th of July.