Just as the title says. Life’s too damn short to live in fear, to not be yourself.
Every moment is precious. Climate change/environmental collapse is barreling down on us like a hurricane. Nobody in a position of authority wants to say it, but we may have as little as ten years left before societal collapse. Even if I’m wrong on that–and I certainly hope I am–you still never know how much time you have left in the world. Every opportunity you get to see someone could be the last. When I think of how mundane and unsatisfactory my last meetings were with my grandpa, or with my friend’s late-mother, or with old pals I lost contact with, I always wish I had said the most important things while I had the chance. It’s never a bad time to say “I love you, and I’m glad I had you in my life for however brief a time” to someone who’s done right by you.
The world is a sick, sad place full of selfish, dysfunctional people. Most of them wouldn’t bat an eye about hurting you if it would be convenient or profitable to themselves. There are “friends,” who will turn their back the second the going gets tough, sometimes without a word of explanation. There are parents who treat their children as extensions of themselves, using them to vicariously relive the “glory days” or show off to others. There are cousins who will leave you out of fun things they do with other family members, or start drama where there doesn’t need to be any and split the family. There are extremists out there who think certain groups of people shouldn’t exist. There are judgmental assholes who want to control how the rest of us live, for one reason or another. There are people in positions of power who abuse their authority and exploit others. There are billionaires who have the power to end all world hunger and take meaningful actions towards improving environmental sustainability while still remaining obscenely wealthy, yet actively choose not to. The sad truth is that most people out there don’t have your back, and even the good ones are going to let you down at some point.
And yet, despite all that cruelty and thoughtlessness, there are people who dare to be happy. There are people who have the courage to fall in love no matter what the stakes, because when you find someone who makes life worth living in this shitty, miserable society, it’s all worth it. That’s why Julius Caesar, in the grandest romantic gesture of all time, stood by his wife Cornelia. Even with the threat of execution or exile on the line, he refused to let authoritarian bullies like Sulla tell him who he was “allowed” to marry. That’s what a real lover does, because nothing in this world is worth living and dying for if not the partner you’ve chosen. If most other people don’t have your back, then stand by the one who will.
So love whomever you choose to love as long as they’re a consenting adult. Do what makes you happy as long as you’re not harming other people. (And no, Dan, you feeling “icky” doesn’t count as being harmed.) Don’t let anyone shame you for it, because life’s too short to be miserable for the sake of a bunch of assholes who only care about what you can do for them in the short term. That’s the same corny lesson which children’s media always imparts on the next generation, yet try as we might it never seems to sink in for most people until it’s too late. As Carlo said in The Libertine: “[In a brutal world,] the most revolutionary and imaginative act is still falling in love.”
With this being a pride month post and all, you probably think I’m talking about LGBT+ issues exclusively. But the lesson still holds true for the popular guy in high school who’s too afraid to ask out the “uncool” girl his friends don’t approve of. Or the high school girl who wants to cast aside gender norms and ask the guy out for a change, but doesn’t want to be seen as a “slut” for doing so. Or the person who’s into BDSM but is too preoccupied with whether or not “God approves.” Or the person into polyamory who’s worried “what if the neighbors find out.” At the end of the day, nobody who would stand in the way of true love, in any of its consensual and non-abusive flavors, is worth a second thought–God included. I tell you, the God(s) I’ve met in my spiritual journey is the very embodiment of love: unconditional, non-judgmental and encouraging us to make meaningful relationships among ourselves while we can. I tell you also that a God who would condemn us for the most selfless of emotions, while allowing greedy men to thrive and plunder for the entirety of their untroubled lives, is not worthy of admiration at all.
My God(s) encourages psychonautics even as it relates to the sexual component of our minds. My God(s) says: read the erotica and masturbate. Have bisexual orgies–or bisexual knitting and videogame sessions. Experience whatever consensual kinks turn you on–with a willing partner(s) in the bedroom or by watching an Italian art film in the living room. Ship the characters on the TV shows you enjoy: from Ben Sisko & Jadzia Dax to Jack Tripper & Janet Wood. Never let anyone make you feel bad for what turns you on. The billionaires from Epstein’s private island, the known rapists who’ve inhabited the halls of government and the pedophiles from the Catholic church have no moral authority to tell any of us what to do with our own lives.