holy shit. this is fucking long.
sorry guys. hope you enjoy. good night.
Ok, here we go.
I’m a bit scared to tell this story because it’s actually pretty fucked, and I’m afraid many of you won’t understand and will think that I’m a TOTAL asshole. But I’ll tell it anyway.
So the Sing it Loud dudes shared a bus with us in the UK and we all got to know each other better (even though they opened the Sassy Back tour in the U.S., it takes a bit for me to actually get to know people. And doing a 2nd tour, and living on the same bus, definitely helped break more of that ice).
So before I tell this story, here’s some insight about me:
A lot of people say I’m an asshole. And I don’t have a problem with that. But what does it mean? That I’ve got no values??
Naw, man. I do my best to live guided by principles. They’re not always right. And I fuck up. But I’ll be the first to admit my flaws and right my wrongs. And I man-up, look a person in the eye, and apologize to their face. I’ll call you on your shit, you call me on mine. The truth will be somewhere in the middle.
Yeah, I play the douchebag card—and play it to the fullest—but I do it consciously and purposefully because I have to weed people out. I’m an abrasive motherfucker. But I will always tell it to you straight. And some people get offended by my abrasiveness and don’t like what I say and how I say it. That’s OK, but those people and I unfortunately have a hard time getting along. I don’t really have many friends. But the ones I do have are my fucking FAMILY. And we have a trust and a bond that you can’t fuck with. It’s not that everyone else can go fuck themselves, but it’s just that I want to save the best parts of me for the people I truly love.
And no mater what you don’t like about me, no matter what you can say about me, you’ll never be able to say that I’ve stabbed someone in the back. I mean, I’ll stab a motherfucker in the face, but not in the back. You dig?
So yeah, I have opinions on pretty much everything. But I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I don’t really care to discuss them anymore. (Like, I don’t want to get into an argument with you about shit. You may not understand why I do things, but trust me: I do. And I’ve already contemplated and extrapolated all possible scenarios ad nauseum. So trust me, you’re not really gonna hit me with some shit about myself I haven’t yet considered.) And it may not be right for you, but it works for me. And it’s not a perfect philosophy, but I’d say I’m more content than the average person. Somehow, I’ve managed to figure out my own path to navigate in the murky waters of our journey, and I wake up everyday grateful for the clarity that guides me (even when I’m awash in a sea of vodka—which incidentally I’m drinking while I write, so forgive my Dostoevsky-esque pseudo-existentialist ramblings, and let me get to the fucking story already).
So the Sing it Loud dudes are really good kids. And they’re respectful and courteous and unassuming and grateful. And I think they also like our band. And on the Sassy Back tour, Kieran asked me if he could sit down with me and pick my brain a little. And I was flattered, but also a bit apprehensive. I’m not a fucking book. So we talked a little while I was drunk, but I’m pretty sure he thought I was just fucking with him because I was going crazy and hiding everything underneath metaphors. (you gotta dig for the truth man. If it’s just given to you on fine china, you won’t appreciate it). But in the UK, we all talked a lot. And I opened up a bit more.
So one night, a bunch of us are getting ready to crash and get in our bunks. Sick Boy sleeps in the bunk across from me. And he starts telling us about a John Lennon sticker he’s had in his wallet for 10 years. I can’t exactly remember the story, but I think maybe his dad had gotten it in NYC the day after Lennon was shot. The sticker read “Lennon Lives!” And Sick Boy is telling us the story, and I start yelling at him and telling him that nostalgia is the failure of true emotion.
That he’s taken an inherently worthless piece of paper, and attributed emotional significance to it for the past 10 years. And that therefore he’s appropriating his emotions into an inanimate object instead of allowing himself to be a truly feeling person in the present moment. That’s some weird shit right? Go read it again.
It’s a crazy concept. Because it’s only human for us to want to keep a box of memories and pictures and things, and open them back up to have them transport us to that place we were when they were taken. But – and I know this is really fucked up—but I think when you do that, it makes you leave your emotions in the past and precludes you from truly immersing yourself in the present. I think that’s why people get old: Because they’ve left pieces of themselves behind. They forget how to be young because they have become nostalgic about their youth. And on the flip side of the same coin, have been forced to carry around their past baggage heavily on their shoulders. The past shackles us. And living in the present means letting go of the past; and not just letting go/getting through the bad, but forgetting the good as well. So that you may be open to new experiences without a barometer of past happiness; without judging today’s happiness according to past happiness.
And Sick Boy was like WTF?
But my words rang true.
And when he first showed me that sticker I was fucking with him and said “what would you do if tore it up?” And he was like “aw man, I’d fucking kill you.” And I saw that look in his eye, like he would actually throw down if anybody fucked with that sticker. And that’s when I started going off on him:
Nostalgia is bullshit man.
It enslaves you to the past.
Let it go.
Become free today.
I told it to him straight:
You’ll be sad to lose that sticker, but I’ve lost many things I’ve cared about. And now I don’t even remember them. And I’m grateful that I don’t mourn their loss. Especially the material ones. Especially the ones that were really nothing, but I somehow convinced myself held value. Yeah, I was sad when they were gone. But I got over it. And I became stronger. And more capable of true emotion in the present moment. And most importantly, free.
You wanna be free Sick Boy?
Destroy something beautiful.
It’s a lesson worth learning. It’s painful. But it will open new roads to your personal growth.
And I said, “fuck it dude—don’t let me pressure you. I want you to make the decision. I want you to at least feel good about enduring a difficult lesson. So here’s what I’ll do: Let me buy that sticker from you. No pressure, but I’ll give you good money, because I know it’s valuable to you. And you’re getting paid to fucking learn something.”
And right before leaving for the UK, we were in Indiana and I won $3k from these old dudes in a card game who though they were gonna hustle some drunk idiots. (a story for another time). So I had some American money burning a hole in my pocket.
“I’ll offer you $300 for you to let me destroy that sticker. That way at least it might ease the pain of making the decision.”
And he thought about it for a minute
And he said yes.
And I gave him 3 bills and tore “Lennon Lives!” into a million little pieces, threw them out the window; scattered across the highway somewhere between Wales and England. Lost forever.
Sick Boy’s face read: “holy shit, I can’t believe that just happened.”
But I told him: he had to make the decision. And he chose. And where Lennon used to live, now lived 3 Ben Franklins of absolutely no emotional significance, but at least Benny could feed him for the rest of the tour.
But it wasn’t about the money. (and I am in no way saying that everything has it’s price—I don’t believe that, and that’s not what this story is about. The money hopefully just eased the pain.) It was about making a decision to smack yourself in the face and force yourself to truly look in the mirror and feel that you are actually there.
And then we went to bed.
The next day I woke up feeling horrible.
When I go on a rant, it’s hard to argue with me because I have a deep grasp of reason and I articulate myself clearly. What I was saying wasn’t wrong, but it’s not always about being right. Sometimes it’s about how you feel. And maybe he didn’t feel like doing that, but couldn’t express himself; or maybe I intimidated him; or maybe he felt pressured? Or maybe it all made sense and I was right, and it was the truth, and it was a valuable lesson. But who the fuck am I? It’s not my place to teach him that lesson. Maybe he didn’t want to learn it right then? Or maybe he didn’t want to learn it ever. I barely know the guy, and I don’t even know the story of that sticker. What’s so wrong with being human anyway? Everyone has their own path. It wasn’t my place.
So I got out of bed and went inside the club to look for him and apologize. And I found him and I explained how I felt: I didn’t take back what I said or what I believe. But I’m not usually so self-righteously didactic. Again, it wasn’t my place. I feel horrible.
“Don’t fuckin apologize man! It was my choice. You said some crazy shit. And you made me look at shit in a way I never had before. I wouldn’t fucking tell you it’s ok if it wasn’t.”
He loved that sticker. But now it’s gone.
And neither it nor Lennon lives.
And life moves on.
And now he is free to embrace whatever comes his way with unencumbered hands.