I don’t know if it’s an American thing, but we’re pretty good at coming up with lists. Maybe lists give a sense of order or accomplishment. There’s been a facebook game of tag going around about listing things for which a person is grateful.
People wrote about their pets or their families or their homes and physical environments – their stuff. As for me, I couldn’t come up with much. I see life as an interconnection of events and encounters with the world around me and not any three things that make me feel grateful.
I ran across an article by a guy named Mark Manson on Ryan Van Duzer’s wall entitled “7 Strange Questions to Help You Find Your Life Purpose.” Since my two-month stint in the hospital and rehab, I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the last few months.
1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR OF SHIT SANDWICH AND DOES IT COME WITH AN OLIVE?
Like Woody Allen says in Annie Hall, “I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That’s the two categories.The horrible are like, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else.”
From the summer of last year to a couple months ago, I’ve been horrible, I’m thankful that now, I’m just miserable.
2. WHAT IS TRUE ABOUT YOU TODAY THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF CRY?
I created some hard feelings towards me by a long time friend of mine about not always being straight forward enough or answering questions or describing situations vaguely. I probably do this out of fear of rejection or fear about being wrong. I have been getting better at speaking my mind, but I don’t think people really are interested in hearing straight answers.
3. WHAT MAKES YOU FORGET TO EAT AND POOP?
I forget to eat from time to time, but I always poop. Writing and editing make me forget to eat. I lost 30 pounds when I was sick and have gained back 20. Even when I forget to eat, I eventually eat even when it is an odd time of the day, usually in the middle of the afternoon. The one thing I advise young people as why they should get a good job, they can eat whenever and whatever and spoil their dinner anytime they want.
4. HOW CAN YOU BETTER EMBARRASS YOURSELF?
As I’ve grown older, I don’t get embarrassed much these days. A couple weeks ago, I started attending yoga classes two or three times a week. I’m a klutz when it comes to the balancing poses, but that doesn’t bother me. The women in the class make conscious fashion statements with their outfits and yoga accoutrements. I’ve noticed the yoga badge of honor is the worn out yoga mat with lots of toe nail gouges.
5. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD?
I used to think that my participation in various causes would make a difference. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. There’s been quite a bit of controversy about domestic violence and the NFL.
I worked for a domestic violence prevention organization called Project Safeguard, my colleague, also a man completed our MPA degrees at CU Denver in the domestic violence prevention field. While DV is largely a problem of men, the solvency role is largely one reserved for women. It’s been very frustrating bumping up against that ceiling and not being able to do much. One idea I’ve had, but not the energy is to build a group of regular guys – ala the Promise Keepers – to take on the DV issue. Men have to set their own table, not join that of women.
The only people who can have a huge impact are very wealthy people and famous people who can buy change. Everyone else just follows along, It takes regular people like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown to be killed / martyred to raise awareness about issues and create social change. Maybe that’s how it’s always been for oppressed people.
I’ve come to realize that I can only do so much as an individual and hope others choose to do the same. I give $5 to political campaigns in Kentucky wondering if Alison Grimes can take out Mitch McConnell and on recently elected Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe and hope I can be a small part of a change movement. If I ever did anything personally, I imagine it would have to do with a hard-hitting documentary project. The world would be saved by now if we only had more spare time. My last stint in party politics I was the precinct 108 captain for the 2008 election cycle. This was when the Obama ground game was so good. The school was packed to capacity and the caucus oozed out into the hallways.
6. GUN TO YOUR HEAD, IF YOU HAD TO LEAVE THE HOUSE ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, WHERE WOULD YOU GO AN D WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
A long time ago I decided that I wanted to see and do things while I was young and spry enough to enjoy and not wait until I was too old. I’m also one who isn’t content just to travel someplace to look at stuff. There’s a Talking Heads album called Stop Making Sense. It’s laid out as a scrapbook and one of the cut lines is “Rich people travel thousands of miles to take pictures of poor people.”
Over the years, I’ve been to all the states multiple times except for only one trip to Hawaii. I spent a month in Uganda a few years back, made pilgrimages to visit the family roots in Japan and Peru. Lived and worked in Mexico for several years.
I’ve experienced quite a few events. Here’s a sampling – saw Mantle and Maris play, traveled to Washington DC and tear gassed during Richard Nixon’s 1973 inauguration and hung around at LBJ’s funeral; had lunch with Timothy Leary; went to one of Bill Clinton’s inaugural balls in 1993, trekked to Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees in the 2001 World Series shortly after the 9/11 attack, saw Nebraska get creamed by Miami in the 2000 Rose Bowl NCAA National Championship game, climbed Devil’s Tower a few times, swam with dolphins in the Amazon River.
When I turned 60, I came up with a list of some things to do that year, then I landed in the hospital and didn’t quite get through everything, but the list continues in play. Going to Ecuador was on the list. I also haven’t been to Europe. Any travel would have to be around something unique. Maybe Harry will invite me over the Pond for a drink.
7. IF YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO DIE ONE YEAR FROM TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?
I’ve thought about this quite a bit lately. The question asks people to project out a year and as such, I don’t think it gets much serious thought and gives an excuse to put off thinking about.
When I went to visit Graceland the first time, I knew Elvis was famous, but I didn’t think he was THAT famous – all those Grammy Awards, clothes, jewels, cars.
Over the years I’ve accumulated stuff thinking it might be of interest to others. Turns out, I mostly have boxes of junk that I’ve been sorting through, trying to sell a few things and giving stuff to charity.
I watched a cable show called Tiny House about people wanting to downsize and live in homes that are a couple hundred sq ft in size. The downsize therapist had the “hoarder” separate things into three piles – trash, recycle /reuse, keep – it’s a pretty good method.
I’ve come to realize that the only people who have any business keeping their stuff are famous people. I’ll pass a few things on to others. My main hobby over the years is collecting autographed baseballs of all the players on particular Yankees teams. The internet took the challenge out of collecting, but I was able to fill out the odd ball items and the collection is largely complete. It’s been tough for me to let go of that stuff.
How do I want to be remembered? I googled myself to see what was out there in cyber space – mostly information that’s five or six years old and about my recent movie and TV business life. Nothing, really, about growing up in Cheyenne, at school at Hastings College, in grad school in Laramie, working in Gillette, and Lander or much about my time in Colorado.
If I were to leave behind a record of my life virtually, it would be my facebook and linkedin accounts. I don’t know if I want my social media life ended.
When Robin Williams died, there was a lot of attention paid to him for a couple weeks and then that story became old news. If a famous guy like Robin Williams fades into the past fairly quickly, I’m pretty sure, about all I’ll get is an obituary in a couple newspapers and someone will have to pay for those, if they get around to it.
I’ve put some thought into my final wishes, though. I want to be cremated and some of my ashes scattered on top of Devil’s Tower – I hope I don’t out live all of my old climbing pals; some scattered over center field in Yankee Stadium – that may be a secret mission. I have a grave plot in Cheyenne, that will then be unused, but I’ll have a headstone that says “Alan O’Hashi 1953 – 20?? ‘Was Supposed to be Buried Here'” or “Who’s buried in Alan O’Hashi’s tomb? Nobody”
WHAT’S MY LIFE PURPOSE?
There’s the material life purpose which has to do with “stuff” and the nature of this little quiz. I have grown frustrated with this because the American Dream is to accumulate and take up space and bigger is better. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that what is better is exactly the opposite. My purpose in life is to do good, do no harm and move away from the material. I sound like a Methodist. Methodists say “Stay in Love with God” but that doesn’t quite roll off my tongue.