Living in the Now… For Now

Here’s one of my dirty little secrets – I’ve always found it hard to live in the present.

You can imagine the challenge this presents during a global pandemic.

Who’s gonna tell him?

Certainly there are advantages to not dwelling in reality these days.   But it’s more complicated than that.  When you’re usually thinking about what will happen or what could happen you’re never fully experiencing what is happening.

Yeah, well that’s the idea.  You pretend it’s healthy to eat a pint of ice cream and/or a bag of cookies a day because to not do so will cause you to scream ‘WEAR A F-CKIN’ MASK’ at every person on your street who isn’t doing so and thus avoid your arrest by police or Homeland Security (Note: HAHAHA, they’re really Black Ops Forces!), whichever comes first.

#realtalk

Okay, point taken.

However hear me out.  There’s a lot happening right now, TOO MUCH.  But the good news is WE actually get to decide what to focus on.

It recently occurred to me there is a power in this, especially in these extreme days of social distancing/isolation/quarantine/near suicide.  See, even in that instance I get to decide what to call it.

My daily routine

I mean, I could’ve chosen the phrase, my personal alone time to do what I want without anyone interfering or telling me what to do.

Yeah, I could’ve chosen that and tomorrow I just might.  But not today.  Tomorrow, it’ll all look rosier and tomorrow I can CHOOSE to have a happier day!

See, the glass is either half full or half empty.  We figure out for ourselves how to look at it.

What glass?

Am I being snide about these choices, making fun of this new age-y approach or quite sincere and/or spiritual?  Well, it’s up to you to decide how to take in this message and what YOU will TAKE AWAY from it.

See what I mean???  Once again?

This actually all occurred to me after I received a wonderful, thoughtful and ultimately quite mindful gift from a dear friend and colleague via Amazon.

No, it wasn’t cookies or ice cream.  Though that’s probably a good thing because how do you effectively scrub those down with Clorox wipes?

Rather, it was this:

EVERYDAY PEACE CARDS – 108 Mindfulness Meditations by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Namaste

TNH is a peace activist, poet and global spiritual leader who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Dr. Martin Luther King and his teachings have been around for decades.  Here, you can look him up.

But these, his 108 everyday peace cards, all printed on sturdy, shiny paper stock, do quite well summing up his philosophies.  In fact, his instructions are to pick a card each day, think about it, and then display it for yourself in his enclosed small, white paper standee on your desk and/or nightstand so you can refer to it anytime you want on that given day.

Or not.

Again, me

Remember, you have the option.  You can decide to re-gift it or even trash it.  I mean, how relevant is this hippy dippy stuff in neo-fascist fascist 2020 America, anyway?

Yes, you might feel that way one day.  And on another, maybe the very next, one of those cards might strike you being as incredibly profound and relevant as each one of Carole King’s 12 songs on Tapestry was (Note: And continues to be) to me the first day I heard it in 1971.

(Note:  For those under 30, simply substitute for Tapestry Taylor Swift’s just dropped folk collection, Folklore, and you’ll get what I mean).

Legends

Again, you decide on whether I’m being serious or snide about this.  Consider what you want to focus on and how it will best serve your life in this given moment YOU’RE living through.

That is the real beauty of these cards and, to me, that was the true meaning of this present.

So far it’s told me things like:

— Every twenty-four hour day is a tremendous gift to us.  So we all should learn to live in a way that makes joy and happiness possible.

— If there are negative things around you, you can always find something that is healthy, refreshing, and healing, and with your mindfulness you can recognize its presence in your life….If you are facing a sunset, a marvelous spectacle, give yourself a chance to be in touch with it.  Give yourself five minutes… 

Would the 10 seconds between episodes on Netflix count? #askingforafriend

— Real silence is the cessation of talking – of both the mouth and of the mind…This is not the kind of silence that oppresses us.  It is a very elegant kind of silence…It is the silence that heals and nourishes us. 

— I believe that in America there are many people who are awakened to the fact that violence cannot remove violence.  Those people must come together and voice their concern strongly, and offer their collective wisdom to the nation.

 A joke or a map or a little of both?  Or still, none of the above?

So many possibilities. Daily.  And decisions.

Taylor Swift – “August” 

2019, Take a Seat

I’m thinking of 2019 as the year of the bad breakup.  It was miserable, endless and painful and yet it had a few high points where you got some revenge and even won several arguments.

No, that’s not a particularly healthy way to think.  But it is satisfying and harmless if you only indulge at the end of the year.  Like a pizza dinner with fries on the side and a chocolate anything for dessert.  Or sex with the wrong person.

Yeah, I said it.

No one really wants to look back on a year such as this one but as 2019 comes to a close a handful of moments might be worth remembering.  That is aside from teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg taking every one of us over forty out to the virtual woodshed for destroying the planet over the last 30 years.

Some moments are in a class by themselves and have far more meaning than the off year in which they occurred.

And with that:

THE CHAIR’S BEST OF LIST:

The Finger Point Seen Round the World

On point

Say what you will about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi but her total domination of the Electoral College POTUS who thinks He’s King in 2019 was one dependable, if sporadic, joy to behold.  This was typified by that October still photo Trump tweeted of her dressing down the sort of prez over his Syrian policy with her words AND her finger with the attempted shaming caption, Nervous Nancy’s Unhinged Meltdown!

Only he could never imagine she would embrace an image where she was confronting a table full of clueless straight white men who could barely look her in the face, make it her Twitter cover photo and in turn have it embraced as THE symbol of female empowerment and popular resistance to the patriarchy heard round the world.

AND you thought she couldn’t top last year’s meme of her leaving the White House in that red coat and oversized sunglasses…

The Strangest and Best TV Special that Shouldn’t Exist but Does

How did this get made?

Netflix’s John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch is exhibit A in defense of Netflix because it’s hard to imagine it would get green lit by or as widely seen on any other platform in the world.

But how to describe it?

Well, see, there’s this smart comic named John Mulaney (Note: Co-creator of SNL’s Stefon) who had an Emmy winning Netflix special last year and thought for his fellow-up he’d mix it up with a group of musical theatre pre-teens he gets to sing, dance and emote with in a post-modern remix version of the eighties kids shows Electric Company and Zoom!

This, of course, sells everything about the program way, way, waaaaay short.

Intrigued, confused, weirded out? All of the above.

Suffice it to say any show that features The Talking Heads’ David Byrne, Broadway’s Andrew De Shields and moviedom’s star Jake Gyllenhaal singing along to Mulaney-penned or approved original material with youngsters who have much better voices than they do is worth seeing.

If that doesn’t grab you how about a young guy warbling Sascha’s Dad Does Drag, another singing, Grandma’s Got A Boyfriend or a young woman getting to wear David Byrne’s iconic big suit while dueting Pay Attention with him?

No?

What about Jake in a colorful xylophone jacket having a sweaty nervous breakdown as he desperately and unsuccessfully tries to convince us of the places where he is sure music sprang from.

Are you sure I’m not on drugs?

Be honest.  You like to watch….don’t you?

The Unforgettable Performance

Clang, clang, clang goes the Oscar?

Judy Garland is likely the most imitated performer in the history of show business.  Or at least in every gay bar across the world, which is, let’s face it, where all of show business sprang from.

That is why Renee Zellweger’s incredible performance in title role of Judy, a film that chronicles Garland’s final musical comeback towards the end of her life, is such an achievement (see my post about that here).

It’s not so much that she delivers a carbon copy imitation.  It’s more that she manages to evoke the very tremulous essence of the vulnerable performer and turn her into a recognizable brew of strengths and weaknesses that each of us can relate to.

… and she did indeed #tehehe

On paper this might have seemed like a disaster, especially since there is nowhere to hide when half the film is shot in close-ups and two-shots of you either alone or pulling focus from others by just being you (nee Her).  That Zellweger manages to pull this off (and then some) in a film that will likely win her the competitive best actress Oscar that eluded the real Judy is sweet.  Even sweeter for her is the fact that it has vaulted her right back on top of contemporary Hollywood after the tongue waggers-that-be delighted some years ago in categorizing her as already past her prime before she even turned 50.

Tee-hee.  Hee.

Best Shirtless Brad Pitt Moment

You’re Welcome

He’s 56 years old and it was in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.  Without CGI.  That is all.

Priceless Mean Girls Moment

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French president Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson huddled together at this year’s NATO summit dishing Electoral POTUS Donald Trump and it made us ALL feel better about being human.

Oh, OF COURSE NO ONE IS CONDONING GOSSIP OR BITCHY BEHAVIOR!!

Still, Mean Girls was a best-selling book, a hit movie, and a Broadway musical that ran for almost two years and will likely be playing at a city near you in 2020 so there must be something to it.

We all know Regina George would make Electoral POTUS cry.

Sure, the best strategy with a know-nothing bully is not stooping to their level.  But we all need to blow off steam, and preferably where they are in close enough proximity to know that you HATE them!!!!

Not to mention, the message must have gotten through.  Trump promptly left the summit early just a day later in a huff, knowing he was not wanted.

Wait….you feel bad?  Really???????

Because his latest revenge against Trudeau, hot off the presses:  Trump and his son, Donald Trump, Jr., tweeting that it was the Canadian Prime Minister who was responsible for Sr’s cameo in Home Alone: 2 (1992) getting cut from Canadian television over this year’s Christmas holidays.

As if!!!

Best Joyous Hate Watching

Will you ever forget…the very first moment in 2019….that you saw…….the trailer to……the movie version of………CATS????

The fake fur, the pointy ears, the strange facial expressions and inhuman semi-sexual gyrations.  It delivered everything and more…or less.  Universal recently took the historic step of actually announcing that after a week in release it was redoing some of the special effects and issuing new versions of the print to the thousands of theatres it was playing.

Our response to that is:  PLEASE DON’T.

Nailed it!

Don’t change a frame for those of us who are waiting to stream it…along with a side of magic mushr—well, something.

And this just in from the gift that keeps on giving:  Dame Judy Dench was only just a handful of days ago quoted as saying her cat, Old Deuteronomy, is…transgender!

Please don’t make it stop.  Now OR forever.

And finally – THE Prophetic Musical Moment

Taylor Swift was much more than a regrettable 2019 supporting turn in Cats.  Sure, her You Need To Calm Down record and video is a song about LGBTQ equality and acceptance.  On the surface.  But in a sense, isn’t it also the overriding message to all of us when we reflect on the entire year and strategize for what’s inevitably to come in 2020??

Taylor Swift – “You Need to Calm Down”

Want more Chair 2019 takes? Dip into our archive and find gems like: The Chair Sees Hadestown with Hillary Clinton (plus Woke-lahoma review), Farewell Dear Rhoda, Paul Rudd Refuses to Age, Prince George Can Dance If He Wants To!, and lots of love for When They See Us, Fosse/Verdon, USand more.