I had a great, long week.
Friends, puppy, walks, hikes, bike rides, lots of work, meetings with good humans (restaurant owners, former mayors) who are now endorsing me, and several interviews with inspiring experts in their field for my media community, Elephant.
And I had a few…humbling moments, too.
I was sitting for an interview re: my soon-to-be-City Council campaign with a small group. Someone asked if I was a womanizer, why I wasn’t married, they said something about my failed engagement, which along with the painful death of my sweet old Redford last year, broke my heart in two.
I’ve longed to be married, I replied. I would love nothing more than partnership, and children, a family life. I love love, and I love communication, and I love children. I love home life, ethics, the idea of creating a little tribe together.
I didn’t say all that, but I thought and felt it. I also felt the judgement, which is fine, folks can pre-judge. I get that committed relationship equates with stability, for many, particularly in older generations. But as another friend of mine said, when I mentioned this curious conversation, she reminded me that if I have no (one or two or three) loved ones taking first priority in my life, so I have more to give to our community.
I said, smiling: well, Winnie…I would want to sneak him into City Council meetings, if I were to win. I don’t want to leave him home for 5.5 hour meetings.
Then, in another meeting, just last week, I answered 10 questions for 10 folks, only half of whom I knew, but all of whom cared, had more knowledge than me, asked tough and important and fair questions. Then…one of the last questions was about how “I had a pattern of abusing women,” and what I had to say about that.
I felt like crying, honestly.
I don’t know what they’re talking about, honestly. I’ve been lucky to be in meaningful relationships with independent, wonderful, caring women. I have failed to fall in love and stay there. I am an assh*le, sometimes. We get in fights, sometimes, but certainly never physical. I haven’t thrown dishes, or hit the dashboard until it broke, or punched my partner while they were meditating. All these things have happened to me, in relationship. And that’s okay, honestly, love is tough. I’ve written a book about it, not from the point of view of an expert, but from my heart, and my Buddhist tradition.
Love is humbling, and exciting, and inspiring, and confounding, and humbling again. I have yelled and been yelled at, or sat through endless arguments or wondered why we weren’t better teammates in the inevitable challenges that life serves up.
But, honestly, I had no response to the above. I’m not that guy. Everyone in this town knows me, and has for my whole life. A dozen exes would be happy to speak up for me and our relationship and my character, and our mutual friends. Friends talk. The word would have been out all over town around everyone for years, I wouldn’t be able to go to Trident or wherever, I’ve grown up dating in this town, my life is (literally) an open book, and it wouldn’t be a little surprising secret anonymous rumor and I would know what to say, because I’d be guilty and I would have thought up smarter replies than whatever the fcck I’m writing here.
My mom went through this stuff. I take domestic violence seriously, to heart, it’s something I care deeply about helping to stop, and heal, societally.
This kind of drama and attacks in politics is part of what has stopped me, and so many others, from getting involved in public service in the first place. This is why good caring humans don’t run, and we just get selfish, sleazy bastards in politics.
Because this stuff is scary. The idea of this on the front page of a newspaper…I feel like I’d hang my head and have to hide and disappear, even though my conscience is clear. Because denial is the language of the guilty, and there seems like little way forward after there’s a public accusation.
But, for now, I’m not going to give in. I can handle this stuff, I think, with the help of true friends and meditation and lots of deep breaths—and my experience with Elephant, where I’ve been called everything under the sun for 22 years, now (we cover abortion rights, smoothies, gluten-free, the Dalai Lama, and other brutally controversial subjects that inspire social media name-calling and hate and trolls and the occasional stalker).
I’ll be running not because of Bravo-worthy drama or personalities and egos or distractions.
I’ll be running because of climate crisis (it’s come for us, here, in toxic smoke days and burning homes in the middle of winter).
I’ll be running because of homeless and public safety, which are two ways of saying the same thing, and both have to be helped and when they are they shall ease one another.
I’ll be running because of affordability, or rather lack thereof, and how we’re losing good people every month who just can’t make it here working a job, or two, let alone being able to afford to buy a home.
It’s a rough job, City Council, in many ways, it doesn’t really pay, it takes an incredible amount of hours and study and patience and focus, and no one respects you (not compared with Mayor or State Senate or Congressperson, you know), and everyone’s mad at you—you’re messing with people’s backyards, after all.
So I’m not running for me—that would be stupid. I’m a fool, but I’m not stupid.
I’m running ‘cause I care and think I might be able to help. It’s that simple. I’m running to make Boulder fun and fair and safer. I’m running to serve the common good. I’m running because I love this, my hometown, deeply, personally, and with joy.
And I’m running because I’m disappointed and frustrated with it, both. We can do better. We can be kinder, but smarter, too. We can help our fellow citizens feel safe, be safe, find homes, afford homes, and address climate crisis locally in a way that inspires other cities and towns. We won’t succeed or be perfect, but we can do better.
I’m not interested in slates, though I want their support, of course—this is about democracy and voting—I want everyone’s support. I am interested in helping, and bringing folks who are often opposed together to begin to solve these problems and help this town. And it’s easier to bring folks together who are opposed when you’re not on one team or another, but are willing indeed happy to listen to folks who know more than, well, me. And that’s everyone—Bob, Aaron, Nicole, City Staff, restaurant owners, citizens complaining on Next Door, or Reddit, or Facebook, or to my face when I’m trying to buy a Havenly roll at Farmers’ Market.
Finally, I was dating a wonderful human. She dumped me a week or so ago, right before my birthday. Happy birthday! I wasn’t giving her enough communication, or the right kind. We’re still friends. We’re getting coffee tomorrow, at my favorite weekly tradition, the live music on West Pearl. She’s a practitioner of “authentic relating,” a path of mindful communication, and thanks to her I learned, the hard way, yet again, how much I have yet to learn, even in areas where I think I show up well.
As relationship/sex counselor Rachael says,
“And in that love we meet the parts of ourselves we’ve been so scared to meet,
But the parts we’ve always needed.
Love will set you free;
Not from your fears –
Love will bring your fears to your doorstep,
Love will bring every wound, ache and bruise to the surface demanding attention,
“Look at me”, it will say
And should you deny this you will deny love.
Because we can only love anyone, know anyone, feel anyone to the depths we have done these things with ourselves.
True love is dripping in honesty.
The facade washed away,
that the hardest love to find is our own;
And that’s the love we will always be searching for,
That’s the love we need.
Every love along the way is only a stepping stone to loving ourselves more.”
Love is delicious, romantic, meet-cute, indescribably magnetic…but it is brutal, too, humbling, it leaves us as a wildfire leaves a forest flattened, blackened, toppled, smoking. But like a wildfire hopefully too it leaves new seeds of learning below the wreckage.
Love is friendship and teamwork, it is patience and helping one another in all the little ways, it is hunger and it is our ever-humbling teacher, and as a great and flawed man once said, to paraphrase, success is going from failure to failure without giving up.
For now, I am not giving up on love or service. Which are two ways of saying the same thing: caring.
For now, I am not giving up.