Monday, March 11, 2013


     I can see myself, decked out in red white and blue, glitter all over my body, hair slicked back in bump-free pigtails... singing "Proud To Be an American" in an emotional duet alongside my dear friend, Jessica.  A highly patriotic ten year old, I sang along to the good ole' boy America lovin' anthems of Toby Keith and nodded my head to Sean Hannity, memorizing blurbs of Fox News I would proudly recite to my surely bored friends on the play structures of Laurelglen Elementary.  "The problem is entitlements... illegal immigrants and welfare moms and criminals and liberals and atheists... they're all just so 'entitled'.  And that's not what America is about you guys.. it's about hard work and church and the Army and country music."  I'm exaggerating... but I guess here my parents should have speculated I would passionately seek activism, as I've always chased opinions.
     Vocabulary and rhetoric are charged entities I've come to learn, and reflecting on the way your words sound to others can inspire some serious personal revelations. The word 'entitlement' is defined as "the belief that one is deserving of certain privileges".  In high school I became quite obsessed with the application of this word to my own circumstance.. as I heard its synonym thrown around in political debate and my own government class.  What privileges was I born with? What privileges are Americans born with?  And perhaps more importantly... do I believe that I am deserving of these privileges?
     I concluded simply... I am insanely lucky.  I was born in America, a land of relative safety... a nation founded on the principles of human rights.  I realize that millions, perhaps billions, of people are forced to fight for safety from an early age, as their homeland provides them no such comfort.  I was born to parents that planned diligently for my arrival, painstakingly insuring that I would always be fed, sheltered, and loved.  I have seen heartache in my family, but have known the profound peace that comes with the realization that my parents would make any sacrifice for my happiness. I could get fired from my job... my house could burn down... I could be a drug addict... I could have a baby... but I can think of several people who would provide for me unconditionally.  I cannot believe how crazily lucky I am.  I did nothing to deserve this comfort... I inherited it.  It's as if I was given the rarest gift on the day I entered the world.  I've done nothing profoundly noble.  I'm not a hero or a scholar.  I make coffee part time to pay my rent and spend way too much money traveling to Malibu to visit my best friend.
       I know few exceptions to this luck.  Most of my friends were similarly born in America... to families that love them.. however dysfunctional.  We sleep on store bought mattresses, drink clean water from our faucets, and laugh at dumb videos we watch on the Internet. Some of my friends live more luxuriously than others, but even those of us who live pay check to pay check know we can find an easy way to eat our next meal. We are so lucky. I am so lucky. And I have done absolutely nothing I can think of that could inspire me to say "I, Crosby Damron, deserve this."
     The portrait of someone who deserves such a stress-free life is easy for me to paint. She wakes up at five to go to work.  She works over forty hours a week in a crazy, loud, hot kitchen making food for picky customers who are rarely satisfied.  She exits the kitchen for her break sweating, smiling, and laughing.  She never complains, thankful for the opportunity to support her children.  Her personality is magical, known for loving everyone and being beautifully open with her affections.  She has seen far more than her share of fear and heartache, as she fled her home for the promise of a country that would keep her future babies safe.  She has taught herself English piece by piece, and seeks opportunities that will make her speech more fluent.  She lives in fear of deportation, hiding from the government that she hoped would protect her.  Her children attend public school, and she pores over their homework every night, relishing in her own dream that her children lead the lives she blissfully imagines for them. She immigrated here from Mexico and manifests the ideology of the American dream in a way that puts my peers and I to shame.
       If one of us has to be deported... I nominate myself.  My merits for the inheritance of the privileges are painfully unfounded.  If hard work and constant ambition for betterment are stipulations of the American Dream... those of us who have earned our privileges on luck alone have no more right to the entitlements of being an American citizen than those who have snuck across the border.  We simply snuck into hospitals.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
 The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
 Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

 If this country can find in its heart to abide by its promise to the fearful of this world... I can possibly find it in my heart to declare once again someday that I am proud to be an American.


Thursday, March 7, 2013


     It's rare that my scatter brained, passionate psyche focuses on anything specific for long.  I have trouble articulating my opinions on politics and religion in serious discussions because my views are lofty... all encompassing... admittedly far from practical.  I try to summarize my mind by repeating "I don't care about money" and "people are inherently good"... but get lost in frustration based on my inability to wrap my bleeding heart around specific talking points... I speculate I just can't bring myself to believe that the human world can be calculated... it's too colorful, too emotional, and far too surprising...and my brain explodes into a vibrant kaleidoscope of thoughts and songs and poems and pictures whenever I try to reach for the tiniest topic.
     However, the past few months I have been harboring a tangible sadness for something quite specific... and I'm grasping and clinging for this sign of temporary clarity.  Whenever articulated fervency strikes I choose to absorb it as a sign of providence, perhaps a lengthy psychological obsession means I have found one of my soul's please.

     80% of United States women claim they "do not like the way they look"

      This may seem superfluous or vain, a far cry from my usual dream of cultural revolution; but self acceptance and learned appreciation for the divine mystery of life are dependent upon one another.  As long as humanity continues to define itself by external stories, we will be forever asleep.  How can we accept each other and learn to cherish the differences that make life on earth so amazing... how can we understand that we depend on each other.. when our culture so rampantly encourages the belief that our bodies, the amazing vehicles that allow our souls the very gift of life, are insufficient?

     So from the deepest parts of me I plead: Women... it's time we stop hating our bodies.

     I've never been one for intentional exercise or purposeful dieting.  I like to ride my bike, do yoga, swim, and play outside but even the thought of running on a treadmill makes me experience phantom side pains.  I've always loved vegetables and simple foods, but I also eat approximately a pint of ice cream a night.  I smoke cigarettes occasionally.  I'm far from the peak of fitness... I get winded running from my car to the front door.  Hence... I don't mean "love your body" in the way society preaches... implying the conscious betterment of our transcendent souls' physical shells.  I mean banish self hatred and fall in love with your body... now.

     I am genuinely heartbroken by the realization of Western society's decision to weave learned dissatisfaction with the female body into our cultural story.  I'm tall and thin and have wiry limbs, never one to struggle with weight or intense body image issues.. but even I... if standing in front of a mirror... choose things about my body to be unhappy with.  Be it my thighs or my skin or my flipper like feet... I catch myself teaching the whispered lessons of society to my reflection.  It's almost an obligation.  I have NEVER had a female friend who is comfortable with every part of her body.  Heart wrenching.

     Fitness magazines, diet plans, low fat alternatives, skinny lattes, SO MANY CHOICES OF FACE WASH, trendy exercise classes, fat girls, skinny girls, cleavage, hair extensions, Pinterest boards for "body envy"... echoing the same tired sentiment over and over, louder and louder... "You as you are, mo matter who you are, no matter how much you weigh, no matter how beautiful you may be... you can be better.  You must be better.  The way you look now should be improved upon.  It's honorable to never be content with your image.  Your body is a temple.. so bettering it is noble work."

     I propose this notion instead: Let's love our "temples" as they are.  Now. Not in the future when wer're skinnier or "healthier".

     If we're honest with ourselves... our obsession with fitness boils down to loving ourselves... just "not the way I look right now."

     As for me I'm done hating the female body.  I'm done with thinking I'm less than ambitious for not seeking to make my physical self "stronger".  I'm happy enough with my ice cream, thank you.  Let's stop thinking women who completely love their bodies are conceited.  Let's stop being uncomfortable with the notion that we're allowed to love ourselves.  Our bodies are miracles... capable of producing life and taking us on adventures all around the world.  We swim, dance, laugh, and make beautiful stories in these beautiful bodies.  I'm all for healthy living, but healthy living starts not with diet changes and working out... but with looking in the mirror and deciding to love your body as it is in this moment... in all its flabby, bony, bumpy glory.

     Challenge yourself to never criticize another woman's body.  The female body is a sacred and sexy miracle... and it's time we stop buying in to the lies that inspire us to do anything less than cherish every inch of ourselves.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Machine

     Once put under the metaphorical microscope, modern society is fashioned after the workings of a not too complex machine. This machine runs on the fuel of expectations.. we have expectations for what childhood, adulthood, career, success, education, nature, and relationships are supposed to look like.  Consequentially, we are met with unparalleled stress when life doesn't look how the malfunctioning machine assured us it would.  Rebellious children, lying adults, a dwindling career, poverty, natural disasters, failed relationships... are not only reacted to with grief and human understanding... but with shock and malevolent surprise. "I took all the steps, i pushed every button at the time I was told, I watched the conveyor belt moving forward.. then the machine exploded.  How could this happen?"  Our societal machine has Mother Nature down to a science.  Earthquakes can only shake so hard.  Hurricanes can only get so big.  Loss of human life can be controlled and calculated.  When she proves her strength, stretches beyond the boundaries of our machines... she becomes a cold calculated villain.  The nature machine has a glitch.. time for a software update.  A well oiled machine is without surprise.. no discomfort... no guilt.. no suffering... no insecurities.. and no fear.
     Much of our confusion, sorrow, and sense of failure.. stems from the fact that humanity makes a horrible machine.  We react in ways that cannot be predicted, sometimes even surprising ourselves with our strengths and weaknesses.  We seek each others acceptance to the point of violence, lashing out in desperate attempts to be seen.  We love with our whole bodies, in ways deeper than modern science can begin to understand.  Our energies are connected to all of nature, similar I suppose to the parts of a machine, but connected by subconscious understanding of interdependence... a system far more spiritual than mechanical.
     We set up an economy on the machine mentality.. watching graphs of money go up and down on a screen.... as we the buyers and sellers operate our part of the supply and demand machine.. pushing buttons and swiping cards.. doing our duty for the economic computer we depend on.
     We go to schools like factories... learning to fall into our place at the conveyor belt.. pushing products and ideas down the line to be absorbed and sold.
     We fall in love as robots, expecting relationships to be calculated and easy to understand.  If you say this he says this.. if you feel this he feels this... you get married.. you have babies.. you grow old and invest in your retirement... and then you grow old happily and move to a quaint little nursing home.
     The machine hums and moves and progresses and becomes all encompassing... every facet of our lives is fueled by the natural gas of our robotic expectations.
     Then... the machine malfunctions.  We realize not the machine mentality's flaws.. but instead mourn for our own, seeing ourselves as the unique failures for our supposed shortcomings and worthlessness.  We sit in shame as we, the human failure, see our lives as vast disappointment.
     Realize this: humans are beautiful spiritual animals... built with mystery and magic in our blood.  We are destined to live with surprise and fear and rage and love... uninhibited by the bounds of a machine.  Your soul longs for ecstasy, nature, freedom, and mystery.  We make excellent lovers and explorers, but terrible machines.  Own that.
      I made the strange, rather impulsive decision, to postpone school.  I felt the machine underneath the motivations of my life's journey and decided to step back and sit in the quiet.  It's terrifying and I can feel the transitory calm before the revolutionary storm.  But here I am... waiting for the cosmic signs as to how to purpose a life unlimited by my own expectations, and resigning from my duties at the societal factory.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Time To Grieve

    I recently was blessed with the opportunity to attend a conference for media professionals seeking to transform the world into a better place through the use of their art... I felt mildly out of my league to put it lightly... but sat quietly in the back for a solid five hours absorbing as much inspiration as my brain could handle. Days later, I find my mind clinging to a brief presentation by artist, Chris Jordan.  Before you read any further, I implore you to look at his work... unbelievably resonant.
     The conference was a blur of mass information: consciousness, transformation, environmental conservation, mental illness, storytelling, money, books... a lot to absorb... however, i find myself dwelling on and retelling to my peers only one statement presented by Jordan.  In the words of Walt Whitman "Whatever satisfies the soul is truth."  If Jordan's one plea to the audience of a thousand has stuck with me so profoundly, I believe my soul has longed for this truth since its birth.  Simply put he implored... "our society needs to grieve."
    Jordan explained that after the Holocaust, German artists used their medium as a catharsis for decades, manifesting the shame of their society onto canvases, sheet music, screens, literature, every artistic medium.  German society acknowledged their human role in mass horriffic loss, looked inward at their conscience, and moved forward together as a united, grieving society.  Germany's people had experienced the darkness that shows itself when a society falls asleep... and in the aftermath of World War Two, they cried together and reflected on what they had done... even those who played a role only in their passivity.  Societies are made up of humans, bringing with it all the fear, insecurities, love, stories, and risk that human nature allows. Germany decided not to run from their dark foundations, and realized that acknowledging darkness in retrospect, is required to move forward into the possibility of light.
     Amidst the chaos that American society has found itself lost in, foundations must be questioned.  Our nation has seen its share of shame.  Violence, mass environmental disregard, unjust wars, enslavement of minorities, failure to see each other as humans, money put on a pedestal... we as humans, must acknowledge our missteps and their horrible consequences.  We cannot pass our shame onto future generations... seeing ourselves and our ancestors in a light of innocence.  We are humans, all of us, and projected innocence of our past does not amount to nobility.
     It is remarkably beneficial to grieve in solidarity with each other, as shared sorrow has the power to connect us in ways that saccharine small talk cannot. I am an eternal optimist for the future... however, the future does not come to us like an impending wall... we create it.  American society has to stop the movement for just a moment and decide that we WILL not be afraid of grief. We must acknowledge that we are a country made up of humans, all the dirt and gore that human implies.  We have made mass mistakes and continue making them every day.  It's time we grieve together for our slaughter of forests and animals.  It's time we grieve together for our acceptance of violence and oppression towards the vulnerable.  It's time we grieve for our failure to see money as nothing more than imaginary numbers on paper.  It's time we grieve for our time of passive sleep.  Grieving is nothing to be afraid of... and we have to do it together.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Biggest Fear

     Elusively, I mentioned that I had "changed" a lot, since I stopped writing in my old blog.  Not only were these changes the reason I ceased writing publicly, they made me ashamed of my old thought processes and words.  More than shame, however, they made me uncomfortable.  Reading through the words of my past life, and it feels like just that, the ramblings of a girl I can't even feel any more, it scares me to realize how confused I was.  While I wrote a few things I was proud of and still feel bubbling up from within my soul, the love I have for my brother for instance, several posts are chock full of religious cliches and explain longings to know the god I sought after for seventeen years, the god I no longer believe in.  I was so desperate for depth and connection to the universe.. and I know now that I tried to convince myself with my own writing... that the god of my childhood was the answer to my guilt and disapproval of myself. It was as if I believed that by repetition of thought and accolades for my writing, I could convince myself to be a part of a religion in which I found no comfort. I couldn't even read these posts anymore as I tried to develop into who I knew I was supposed to be, and I wanted no one else to know the old me.. for fear she would hold me back from evolution into myself. 
    However, I know now that these recordings of my spiritual development are nothing to be fearful of.  Sure.. while reading them I will always be reminded of the maelstrom of guilt and deceit that was my true mind at the conception of these saccharine pieces of literature; but I have come to realize that evolving into the person you are is a process, in which every step is valuable.  I was a girl desperate for acceptance, and using the name of God was the quickest, surest way I knew to get people to love me.  
The internet will now hold record of Crosby Damron begging for the approval of her friends and family with a high school blog, and I'm thankful.  Perhaps part of my life's purpose is to serve as a reminder of the human need for acceptance. 
    I have come to know that next to food and shelter, rests the inherent human longing for acceptance.  Every decision we make, every word we say, every attempt at success, boils down to our relentless need to be loved unconditionally.  I need to know I am loved not only in spite of, but because, of what I  believe honestly, what I live for, and the mistakes I make.  I am working on giving this grace to others, because I know the detriment to the psyche that is caused from living an untruthful life.  I vow to never inspire others to live a life dishonest to their heart in order to win my acceptance. I thank the universe and am reminded of the inherent goodness of the human heart every time I am reminded of what I have come to know... that I have a mother, father, brother, and friends who convince me everyday that I am accepted.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Humanity's Story

     Recently I finished reading a disturbing novel by the name of Ishmael. It was small.. in length only... so I had no reservations in selecting the single copy from the shelf of my local Barnes and Noble.. thinking to myself "this will be easy".  However... it was the most uncomfortable reading experience I could have ever imagined. But I simply could not set it down. I say disturbing with the utmost passion... to claim it as life changing would be an understatement.  If I could force it in front of the eyes of everyone I know I would... If I could set up a podium and read every word aloud with the utmost clarity I would. While describing the book to a friend of mine recently, her face went pale and she recounted an anecdote of an acquaintance she encountered who had simply resigned from life after reading Ishmael... feeling so inspired, yet so inadequate, that he decided engagement with society was simply not worth the effort.
    I feel silly even trying to summarize Ishmael, as I feel doing so diminishes its power or spills some kind of divine secret, but I vow to try.  Ishmael tells the tale of a disenchanted man who responds to an ad in his local newspaper, "seeking a pupil trying to save the world".  He is then called to the address of an abandoned office building and reluctantly enters, only to find an eerie room occupied by a full-sized, fully intimidating, talking gorilla. Said gorilla, Ishmael, proceeds to teach his pupil what is wrong with our cultural story, why it will fail, and what society must do about it.  The novel then, is essentially a non-fiction dialogue, set within the bounds of a fantastical tale. Yes, I realize, a talking gorilla sounds silly, and when describing the plot to my peers I felt as though I was letting the gravity of the book fall through the cracks of my dialogue.
     The rantings of this fictional gorilla however, have breathed their way into my everyday life and have made me see things so differently, in a way I really didn't sign up for. But I'm so thankful. Perhaps humanity's hope is dependent on my generation starting to feel discomfort creep in the back of our minds.
     As Ishmael has taught me, each human is taught a cultural story upon which to base our lives.  We begin our schooling the very day we enter life on this pale blue dot. We are taught things even bigger than religion and political ideals. We are taught what to value, we are taught how to live, we are taught how we got here, and we are taught who we are.  There's no one to blame for the story we are force fed, because our parents were taught practically the same tale. We are taught, sometimes subtly, that our lives are a competition. No one escapes. We are taught to conquer our environment, nature included, that the whole world is ours for the taking. We are taught that "success" is our highest goal, in its many variations.  What I am asking whoever is reading my little blog to ponder is "what if"... what if I teach my future children a different story?  Even slightly.
     What if I teach my children that life is not a competition, that they are blessed to be a part of nature and it is their obligation to cherish it, that their goal in life should be to nurture their spirit, to become exactly who they feel they should be?  What if my generation taught our children a story slightly different from the one humanity has inherited for hundreds of years?
     We live the story we are taught. Our human "story", our society if you will... is not instinctual... it is taught. Entirely.  What if  the next generation learns something even a little bit different.
     Take it a step further now. Imagine what they could teach their children.  The story will evolve over generations. If humans are taught to simply become who they truly are, perhaps mental illness will stop plaguing our societies.  Perhaps if we teach children they are dependent, not dominant, to nature... our environmental catastrophes will dissipate, and we will take up our rightful role as lovers of the universe. Perhaps if we teach them they are not trying to win with their lives, poverty and war will cease to exist within the next few centuries..  because we will absorb the truth that we are dependent upon one another.
     Stories are a powerful thing.  We live and breathe by them. We raise children by them. We base economies on them.  We start wars fueled by them.  What if the story changed?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Here we go again...

     I love to write.  I do.  I live, work, and play within a three mile radius, so I struggle occasionally with feeling lost within the humdrum rut of a daily, all too small, routine.  However, amazingly.. whenever I write, whenever I pour out my thoughts with a pen or a keyboard onto a blank paper or screen, the depth comes fumbling right back in.  After a hiatus, my sentiments may be unclear, or my vocabulary unelevated, but I can sense it coming back.. my love and supposed affinity for the written word. 
     I used to have a blog and while I wasn't a very prolific author, my words seemed to be well received.  My blog got a lot of views and at one point I was approached by a few advertisers; however, the little voice in the back of my head assured me that writing was vain. "Who do you think you are?" it asked... "why do you value your own thoughts enough to make them public? Keep them in your head where they belong." Furthermore, I changed a lot. My belief systems were in a process of evolution. Reading back over some older posts I didn't recognize my own thoughts, which scared the crap out of me. So simple as that... I stopped. One year ago. 
     However, inspiration has struck and the only option I have is to write about it. Typing is faster than handwriting and my thoughts are moving at a pace that even my typing hands can barely keep up with. This blog, then, is a result of my stumbled upon passion for life, and perhaps this fervency will be enough to keep me writing. I'm desperate for it. This past weekend I had the profound opportunity to meet one of my favorite authors, humanitarians, and philosophers... Tom Shadyac, who convinced me that my life changes when I change.  He asked me simply "What do you love to do?" I said "Write." He said something along the lines of "Then that is your duty to the world." I truly believe that the world's redemption lies in the hands of those who have come alive, who seek what they love. 
     Now to the voice of my doubt I say "leave".  Simple as that.  I want to be a writer and I am confident that the written word has the power to be a weapon for positive change on the small blue dot we call home.  Humanity is the most highly evolved species, gifted with the divine task of literature so write I will. I vow to use my words and my little corner of the internet to spread compassion and provoke thought... even if my mother is the only reader. I love you universe.