March 20, 2020
We’ve been assailed this week by texts, messages, personal attacks, Friend Requests, phone calls, everything…I’ve kept my friend’s list tight and deleted requests from strangers. This is my safe place.
Today, as I feared, an advertising firm contacted me to use my words as a “commentary” behind a “we’re the good guys here to help you” TV spot for Johnson and Johnson/Tylenol. I haven’t made a cent from this and they didn’t offer any either, for the record.
I spoke with their rep to clarify and sent this letter. I don’t have an agent; I don’t have an attorney; I have real-life family members and friends putting their lives at risk right this moment because of our Administration’s woeful preparation and a Congress with members more interested in selling their stocks for profit than helping our healthcare workers and people…
So, I’m re-posting this letter here as, I HOPE, proof I wrote it and had witnesses. Insurance.
Thanks, now back to what’s important…
Hi, (Person who shall go unnamed),
I understand that you and your team are trying hard to do good in a troubled world, and using your many gifts and the powerful platform of various media to convey that message of concern, but I don’t think my words are a good match for this project. It doesn’t seem to be inspired by purely altruistic intent; it seems designed to sell Tylenol and promote Johnson & Johnson, and that doesn’t feel like it honors the spirit of my words and the ways they’ve offered comfort and love, which was my intention and hope when I set them free.
Conversely, I’m very happy with the ways a variety of artists and musicians are being inspired by these words to create and collaborate with the poem to further touch and comfort people’s hearts, and to inspire them to survive–and flourish–in courage and peace.
I do wish you well and pray for your safety and good health. And I am very grateful for your integrity in contacting me before using my words, as others have not. We are all finding our way into and through this mystery, and never alone in doing so.
Be well and gentle peace,
March 20, 2021:
When people say they would “love” to have their words “go viral,” I like to share this…it’s like this (which was only one week after “and the people” was innocuously posted on Facebook), x 1000, for months and months.
This post reminds me of the time’s fear, confusion, anger, and wonder. I mean THE virus, not mine, and how adjusting to, or at least riding the waves of that, was compounded by being shot into space by “going viral.”
I’m still very grateful for how this absolutely-once-in-a-lifetime amazement led me to so many gifted artists, to so many people doing so much good in the face of terror and mystery, to so many people making immense sacrifices, to kind and gentle people—who save us, every day—and how the entire experience isolated and burnished for me, again and profoundly, how blessed I am in my partner, family, and friends. Gratitude will always be the encompassing theme of this year, for me. But it is that for all of my life as well.
Far more important than “going viral” is the recollection of our collective experience. What a year, what a time we’ve endured. I know it’s not over, but let’s take time to sit with what we’ve survived, and honor what nobility, strength, humor, love, and courage we’ve summoned, supported, shared, and offered each other and the world this year. Look at the difference in our leadership and the issues we’re exposing to the light of moral and legal scrutiny, a painful, necessary debridement of our national thinking—unconscious and conscious—and an analysis of policies that enforce what must be opposed and altered.
I think this is what an Enlightenment feels like: a struggle between what must die and what must be born if we are to survive and thrive. I know we have to love our way through it as authentically as we can, or what we create will not be new or inclusive, which means all, not “all the groups who think like me.”
We know hard times will always be with us; we know the virus and its variations, and climate change, and all the human struggles for power and possession will go on, but I hope we can reflect on what we have accomplished and realized this year, in spite of soooo much resistance and fear-fueled ignorance…This is a time of epic struggles and we made it through the first dark forest. Let’s enjoy—wisely, safely—a bit of light and sweet breezes, and stock up on all the strength and healing and re-commitment, and joy we need to enter the next dark woods. Together.
I don’t know the ending; I know I likely won’t be present when it arrives, but I’m so honored to be in your merry company and presence as we imagine and create the best possible Earth for all who live and move and have their being on our whirling blue sphere in the expanding, mysterious, and wonderful universe.
We can do this if we choose to live into the mighty spectacular Yes, allowing it to unfold and show us the way.
Great and gentle peace to all; I’m off to the trail for a long and grateful walk.
Happy Equinox! Seek and tend the balance you need to shine the gifts you came to share!
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