WEEKEND Beach Bum
|by Eric Morrison|
|These are a Few of My Favorite...Quotes
"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." This is the magical opening line from my favorite novel, Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. Everything looks better from a distance, but when you examine it more closely, you may find that it's not everything you imagined it to be. People have a tendency to romanticize unfamiliar thingspotential partners, job opportunities, political candidates. Then, when our ship comes in, we're often disappointed with the cargo because we've built our hopes to an unreasonable level. At the same time, it's never wrong to long for something better in your life, to keep looking for those ships in the distance, as long as we realize that no ship is full of golden treasure. Or at least, if it is, there are sure to be a few clawing crabs mixed in with the sparkling booty. This quote speaks to the power of realism, an important balance between optimism and pessimism.
"This above all: To thine own self be true, for it must follow as dost the night the day, that canst not then be false to any man." This classic Shakespearean line, inspired by Socrates' "know thyself" philosophy, expresses an enduring, universal, human truth. It is impossible to be untrue to yourself and be true to others. At the same time, it is impossible to be untrue to others and be true to yourself. You can don a mask like the theatrical chorus members of Shakespeare's time, but eventually, the mask will fall to the stage and everyone will recognize your faade. You cannot change this basic truth, anymore than you can change the cycle of day and night. This line is particularly relevant, and incredibly inspirational, to the GLBT person, especially as we struggle through coming out. It is impossible for any of us to reveal ourselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender without a great deal of introspection and the conclusion that it is impossible, or at least unbearable, to be one person on the inside and present a different person to the world. Being true to yourself and being true to others are opposite sides of the same coin.
"Sometimes, Dolores, being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto....Sometimes, you have to be a high-riding bitch to survive." These words may not ring with Shakespearean eloquence, but they are nevertheless true. This quote comes from one of my favorite films, Stephen King's Dolores Claiborne. We have all faced situations in our lives where we felt backed into a corner, and like any living being, we came out fighting. Let's face itthere are times in our lives when kindness simply doesn't cut it. You can only fight fire with water for so long, and then it's time to pull out your own fire. If the meek do inherit the earth, it will only be because someone else hands it to them, and my 33 years on this earth have taught me that you have to fight for what you want, what you believe, what you feel is right. Hardly ever, if at all, is anything worthwhile handed to you for free. As every GLBT person knows, this world is full of crushing challenges to your survival and sanity, so slide on those boxing gloves and go a few rounds when necessary.
"Just 'cause we're colored, don't make us cousins." This is an old saying in the African -American community, and it's used in another one of my favorite films, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge. I attended a primarily African-American high school, and I heard this quote many times during my teenage years. Essentially, the sentiment is, "Don't think we're close because we happen to have one thing in common that neither one of us chose." The sentiment also encourages us to see beyond racial, gender, and sexual orientation differences and choose our friends and associates wisely based on character. When I first came out, I was so thrilled to be away from that dark closet, I thought every gay man around me had to be a good person. I learned the hard way that there are just as many rotten apples in the gay barrel as there are in the straight barrel. It's actually a comforting thought, to know that when all is said and done, what distinguishes us from one another are the choices we make and the character we choose, not a skin color, gender, or sexual orientation we never asked to have."It takes a village to raise a child." I first heard this African proverb a few years ago when I worked in education, and its wisdom spoke to me immediately. Granted, in the past few years, the quote has become overused and almost clich, and if I see it peeking out from underneath one more email signature, I'll lose my lunch. But watching my two beautiful nieces growing up has made me realize how important everyone around them is. Children are like little sponges, absorbing every action, thought, and deed around them. Later on, when they get squeezed under pressure, they'll just expel what they've absorbed. So not only is it important to have the whole village raising the child, but make sure it's a great village, too. I sometimes think about how very many people influenced me as a child besides my parents, how many people shaped me into the person I am todaymy grandmothers, my brother, family, friends, teachers, neighbors, and even the teller at the bank who never let me exit the door without a lollipop in my hand. Other people are always watching us, including children and adults, and we're always teaching everyone around us in a crazy cosmic learning dance, so be mindful of what you do and say.
Eric can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 05 May 16, 2008