My best friend from high school got married last night at the University Club in St. Paul. As a groomsmen, he bought me green socks splashed with tacos. Kate and I snuck out for a few minutes during cocktail hour and walked through the dusk and falling leaves and century-old homes.
Here’s what I learned:
One. Not all lawyers are drones, slaves to the man. Most of them, perhaps. But not all. I met a guy who I went to law school with and got to talking. Many striking points of commonality emerged. Yoga, meditation, somatic therapy, podcasts, converting vans into livable homes. Check out Cornell 5/8/77, a live album by the Grateful Dead. Also, the following podcasts: Tim Ferris, Aubrey Marcus, Tara Brach.
Two. During a few hours of shit-shooting groomsmen time—munching on pretzels, Lay’s potato chips and YouTubing how to tie a fat tie knot—I asked the groom about business school, since he’s currently enrolled. Which led to conversation on the value of college generally. This fact was shared: No meaningful life differences exist (in terms of income, achievement or otherwise) between those people who get accepted to an Ivy League school and attend and those people who get accepted to an Ivy League school and do not attend. We wondered whether this phenomenon could be applied more generally. And whether the college diploma carries no value other than as a signaling device. What it signals, beyond a willingness to hoop-jump and incur debt, I do not know. Even in casual conversation, college is losing legitimacy amongst millennials.
Three. One of the grooms aunts introduced herself to me as a reader of The Alt Dad Diary. She kept saying she very much enjoys it; kept saying how talented I am; kept saying how it’s such a gift to put myself out there; kept saying how much she and others can relate. In turn, I kept saying thank you, I really appreciate that. She squinted skeptically, and asked: you’ve heard this before, right? Yeah, I said, but it’s in one ear and out the other, like I don’t believe it. You should, she said. You really should. And then she pressed rewind and then play on the praise tape. And let me re-listen. Multiple times. Something in me is very hard of hearing when it comes to my own talent, skill, merit, character. The saying we are our own worst enemies seems so stupidly true. Maybe I feel like if I acknowledge my gifts then I’ll somehow become boastful or unappreciative. I realized how much I need to start pushing this pessimism into positivity and self-belief.
Four. Psychedelics. I have a habit of getting obsessed with something and kicking the topic into the field of play with everyone I come into contact with. By psychedelics, you may think rave or 1960s peace movement. I mean something different. The more people my age that I talk to, the more I discover how prevalent anxiety and depression are. And we’re smart people, able Googlers. So we do our research. And we quickly discover that traditional pharmaceutical anti-depressants often have more costs than benefits. So we keep googling and discover in the basement of social knowledge, covered by cobwebs, and behind bright yellow DO NOT ENTER tape, which we duck under and cross because we realize the stakes are breaking the law to learn more or jumping off a bridge because we can’t handle the death metal band playing 24/7 inside our own head. The research articulating the incredible benefits of micro-dosing on mushrooms or LSD for depression, anxiety, PTSD is growing every day. New research groups, new non-profits, new controlled studies. I keep opening my mouth about this in conversation. And the most unlikely folks nod, eyes twinkling and then articulate the same iliad through anxiety, stress and depression as my own, before announcing their own interest in these powerful plant medicines.
Five. The pastor gave a speech on how hard love is. The groom’s father echoed this sentiment. I remember how much I don’t remember about my wedding night, two plus years ago. If the bride and groom are like me, the nervous blur effect may have reduced their engagement with the message on love’s difficulty. And the groom’s father mentioned this. That the usefulness of his message may be a few years down the road. When a little glimmer wears off. I’m glad these two men used the opportunity to tap a hammer against the crystal globe that marriage is this Edenic garden of bliss and puppies. The men didn’t shatter the crystal ball—that’d be cruel. Just enough tapping to hear the metal on glass. The sounded the gong of fragility. One upshot of this message is to anticipate conflict. And don’t feel shamed or abnormal when shit hits the fan. Everybody’s walls are a Pollack painting of feces. The cultural taboo against truth-telling about what occurs inside the helmet of one’s own head means the marriage is a quarantined area. In large part, The Alt Dad Diary is a handheld trip from the Cloroxed hospital room of DON’T TALK ABOUT THIS into the germy world of THIS IS HOW IT IS. That the pastor and the groom’s father both hammered the same nail, is good indication that we’re anemic for the bloody truth, malnourished on pretty little lies.
Six. That’s all for now. I don’t want to bore.