I met Selena Sunday as I sat with my dad on the steps of the central city plaza in Coyoacan, Mexico.

Thousands of people congregate in this public space every Sunday to dance… play… kiss… and partake in other joyous activities.

Selena came up to me and said (in Spanish), “Would you accept this message from a stranger?” and handed me a napkin with a note on it.

Perdonar es posible solo despues de perdonarse a si mismo.

“To forgive is possible only after you have forgiven yourself.”

She then asked me to write a message of love on another napkin which she would give to another stranger.

“So why are you doing this?” I asked.

She said she wanted to change what she thought was a negative image of Mexico. She said la gente Mexicana are una gente honesta, sincera, amable — honest, sincere, likeable.

I had some great experiences last week in Mexico City, but this one moment persists in my mind.

I observed from a distance as Selena took my note and handed it to another stranger, who smiled upon reading it.

La Música de Mexico

A video from my first day in Mexico City on Thursday. Music on the subway; street performers play American music; a dance at Plaza Garibaldi; mariachis on the streets/outside the bars.

Community & Anonymity

Many of us value community, but then there is anonymity, and that is attractive, too.

One thing I say about Gainesville is that I love the community:
Going places, knowing people, being known.

In a community, people smile at each other on the street. Business owners know customers by name. You share mutual friends with every stranger — so no one is a stranger.

But that can feel suffocating.

Go to a place like Miami and you find a freedom in not being known. In the city, your individuality is magnified. You feel free to be anyone at any moment, and whether it works for you or not, the next moment you are someone else somewhere else.

It can feel liberating.

But anonymity discourages accountability and treating others well. In a city people don’t smile at you on the street. People are wary of you until you prove yourself — and you must.

Community and anonymity. You can love one or hate the other but nothing is black and white.

Fertilizing Daffodils

Once when I was a little kid, my dad asked me out of the blue:

“Chris, did you ever think about the fact that one day you are going to die?”

Buzzkill. Just trying to play my Gameboy over here, Dad.

As if to say “No, seriously,” he repeated:

“Really, I mean… did you ever think about that? That one day your life on this planet will be over.”

It seems a grim thought to drop on a seven year old. My dad’s never been one too serious or dramatic — most of the time he’s the opposite.

But he asked me this matter-of-factly. “Do you understand that one day you will die?”

I wonder what mood he was in; whether he was trying to teach me something or just curious about the depth of a seven year old mind. To this day the memory has stuck.

When I was a teenager, he introduced me to the movie Dead Poets Society.

In the intro Mr. Keating takes his class of adolescent men to the lobby of the prestigious Welton Academy, and asks them to contemplate the stories behind the century-old faces framed on the wall.

Keating instructs a student to read a verse from one Robert Herrick poem — “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Old time is still a-flying.” — and asks, “Why does the writer use these lines?”

The answer:

“Because we are food for worms, lads. Cause believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die.”

He continues:

Dead Poets Society

I’d like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You’ve walked past them many times, but I don’t think you’ve really looked at them. They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you.

Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see, gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen. Do you hear it?

Carpe. Hear it? Carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.

After watching this with my dad, “carpe diem” was a household phrase.

“Hey Chris, want to go to the park/to the movies/for a bike ride?”

Nah, Dad, I’m busy… IMing on AOL or whatever.

“Come on, carpe diem!”


Life is fleeting. I have been indoctrinated with this truth constantly in one way or another.

From early childhood, my parents would remind me:

“Appreciate your great-grandparents… you never know how much longer they will be around.”

At 92 and 93, they are still around. Twenty-five years later, my great grandparents are an aging reminder that each moment with a loved one could be the last. Cherish every one. “You never know how much longer they will be around.” Or anyone or anything else. The clock is ticking. Over all of us.

But death is not something to resent necessarily. It provides a context and an urgency for you to enjoy your ephemeral life.

Death is in everything. Let this awareness guide our lives. Be it a breakup, a friend moving, or a family member ceasing to breathe, everything will come to an end.

“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”!

Getting Your Sh*t Together, Chasing Your Dubious Dream

You have to start somewhere and that somewhere is right here.

You have to start sometime and that sometime is right now.

You have to start admitting that you don’t deserve shit. You want something? Sweat. Struggle. Sacrifice.

You have to make a sacrifice. Something’s got to give.


Consume less. Produce more. It doesn’t matter what you are creating as long as you’re creating. Make it your goal to be prolific. You’ll start to see the light.

Stop wanting to be wanted. No one else can fill your void. Stop looking to be chosen. Start choosing yourself.

Stop eating sugar. Start eating breakfast.

Cool it on the alcohol. You’re wallowing. You’re drinking when you can’t afford it and it’s making you want to drink more. It’s setting you farther apart from your dream.

Get rid of stuff. You’re drowning in stuff.

Stop working toward being happy. Just be happy.

Be grateful. You may not have what you want yet, but you’re breathing aren’t you? You’re alive, aren’t you?

The Last Car Wash

Today I washed my first car for the last time.

I’m selling it soon.

It felt almost intimate, rubbing it down, with my bare hands, and saying goodbye. I almost cried.

I don’t even drive it anymore. I don’t even like the idea of owning it.

But it’s hard to let things go.

Of course, things don’t mean anything.

But things attach themselves to memories.

And memories mean a lot.

When I got my first car it meant freedom.

Now, I am getting rid of it for a different kind of freedom. From debt. From guilt. From privilege.

Things change.

But we had a good ride.

Back in the day, we drove to and from senior year of high school together.

We listened to the same CDs over and over and over again — The Mars Volta, Beirut, Regina Spektor, Cake. Each one on repeat. For weeks.

We took friends and girlfriends out, sometimes riding around destinationless, just for the hell of it.

Once or twice we maxed out on Miami freeways far faster than we should have. Stupid. I’m sorry. It was before I’d grown into my prefrontal cortex and shed my invincibility complex.

One summer, we took a road trip to a farm in a valley in Tennessee where we found peace — at a time when it was really needed.

For years we went to New Orleans together. On numerous enchanting occasions.

We took spontaneous trips to the springs together.

We visited Sarasota together. Sweet Sarasota.

And on some nights when we just needed to get away, we drove south on 441 and stopped to observe the stars over the prairie.

With that, dear thing, I must say goodbye.

Thank you for the memories.

I am taking a break from Facebook and writing a blog post a day. I will share these posts daily on Facebook via a Share link, but I won’t be checking notifications, messages, my News Feed, or Timeline. You can contact me here.
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