This will be the second time that I post something my FB friend Johnny Kline wrote. It is not the second time that I have wanted to snatch a page from Johnny and share it beyond Facebook. It's one of the many times. When I read this out loud to my husband, the old black man, he said, " those bullet points are a mission statement". I added a mission statement for life. It works for old black people too.
So, thank you Johnny Kline for sharing your thoughts, your wisdom, your compassion.
I’m an old white guy. That’s the identity society and its members enforce upon me but it’s also who I am. I’m old. I’m white. I’m a guy. I’m an old white guy. I used to be a big white guy until I turned 60. Before that I was a young white guy until I turned 35 or so. And before that I was a white kid. So, I’ve been an old white guy for about a year, now, and it has taken me that long to determine what an old white guy is because society’s definition is not going to cut it.
I’m not a conformist. That’s sort of a hysterical understatement. As a white kid and as a young white guy and as a big white guy, finding my non-conformist groove was relatively simple. Don’t get me wrong. It was hard work that required an epic dedication. Any non-conformist worth their salt has to have a deeply educated understanding of conformity. To create, by choice and by design, an alternative norm that upsets the assumptions and expectations of society, you have to know those assumptions and expectations better than anyone else. Otherwise you are a fraud, living in reaction to something you don’t like but, nonetheless, dominated by it. Most activists live like this.
I think of myself as a spelunker exploring ever deeper up the ass of society like a master proctologist with head lamp ablaze. You need to experience the odor there to really get it. If you can’t acknowledge how putrid it really is, and very few can, especially most old white guys, then you will be forever separated from real solutions. And the stench is sourced, primarily, in the creative self-designed identities that became waste product when assumed and expected identities were submissively adopted by hundreds of millions of people.
All this to say, that I hit a snag when I turned 60 and I didn’t even realize it for almost a year. It’s the old part. I’ve already lived through multiple iterations of being a white guy. I live my life in continual creative contradiction to those societal assumptions and expectations. But being old threw me. Because I AM slower. I DO have more aches and pains. I CAN’T hear for shit. I was confused. I began to conform to the societal assumptions and expectations of oldness. But fuck that. I woke. I’m an old white guy and you don’t tell me what that means. I tell you:
• I like myself
• I would not trade my life with anybody regardless of their age
• I am more radical now than ever before and will be even more radical tomorrow
• I am confident because I have tested myself in thousands upon thousands of situations and have consistently performed with competence and compassion
• I am joyful; play and humor are my staples
• My integrity is intact
• Human connection is my touchstone
• I lead by listening
• I have an ever greater capacity to attend to suffering and misery in myself and others
• I love to laugh; I need to cry; I do both every day
• I am an excellent student and learning will always be one of my favorite activities
• I think well about my body: how it looks, how it feels, how it works
• There is well-earned authority in my presence and I’m not afraid to use it for good
• I am all in on the side of revolution over reform
• I am still a little white kid thriving in the eternal mystery of seeking answers, discovering with wonder over and over again that the best ones lead only to more questions
• Unfulfilled but satisfied, I will die as an old white guy in the service of justice