What is Cool?

I just saw a video of a woman who looks to be about my age. She’s playing the drums. That’s putting it mildly. She’s playing “Wipe Out.” She’s freakin’ rocking that song. I mean… damn. I want to be her best friend.

She’s not dressed cool. She’s wearing a pink golf shirt and some shorts. If you saw her in Walmart pushing a grocery cart, you wouldn’t think she was cool. But this woman is so cool it’s ridiculous.

What is cool, anyway? Someone called me cool the other day and I nearly choked on my tuna salad sandwich. Me? Cool? Hardly. I have spent most of my whole life feeling weird. I can’t imagine that anyone would want to emulate me. In fact, I wouldn’t advise it.

When I was young, I thought the Fonz was cool. Now I look at re-runs of Happy Days and I think he’s kind of silly at most. He was a loveable, leather-jacketed clown who reduced women to the worst versions of themselves.

Cool for me is unique, but not weird. It’s not about popularity, but yes, it’s often envied. It’s being confident about blazing your own trail. It’s about being so comfortable in your own skin that you don’t care what other people think.

Cool is that guy who shows up at that rally for Planned Parenthood. Cool is wearing a Hawaiian shirt over a sweatshirt in the dead of winter, simply because you like the shirt. Cool is that woman who spends her time raising an endangered species of butterfly because she can. Artists are almost always cool. And anyone on the Jamaican Bobsled Team is cool by default, in my opinion. I also happen to think that anyone who has invented something that makes the world a better place is way, way cool.

Cool is also standing for things when others don’t have the courage. That anonymous guy who stood in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square? Coolest. Person. Ever. I hope he survived.

Malala Yousafzai is cool because you secretly wish you were her. At least I do. She has a moral compass that never deviates. She lives a meaningful life.

The bottom line is that cool is hard to define. You just know it when you see it. Who do you think is cool?


It would be kind of cool if you bought my book. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5


Youth Protest

Throughout the world, regardless of race, creed, or culture, it always seems to be the youth, the students, who come out and protest when change needs to occur. They are the ones who march on Selma, who stand in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square, who rise up in Tahrir Square.

Oh yes, we adults are there, too, but for sheer numbers, strength, energy and presence, you can’t beat the youth of the world. And it’s ironic, because every generation seems to belittle that same group. We often say they have no purpose, no ambition, no drive. They’re lazy and unproductive, have no opinions and make nothing of themselves.

I say just give them a good cause and see what happens to that laziness.

Is it because they are younger, stronger and healthier that they are willing to sleep in the open to prove their points? Is it because they have the time? Do they have less to lose? It is certainly much easier to walk away from a job to join a picket line when you don’t have a mortgage, a car payment, and children to feed.

Or is it what I fear deep down: that the older you get, the more apt you are to be covered in an ever-thickening blanket of cynicism? I can only speak for myself, but I know that when I was younger, I was much more idealistic. I was much more apt to believe that change could actually occur. I really did think that my voice, when added to others, could be heard and acted upon.

Oh, I still speak out. I still sign petitions, write blogs and letters and newspaper articles, express my opinion, and I will march, even if only for a day. But the fact is, I’m tired. I’m tired, I’m disillusioned, and on my darkest days I’m bitter. I guess I’m just not as young as I used to be.

So I want to thank the youth of the world. Keep up the good work. It’s important.

Raise Hell

(Unfortunately, more and more, I find myself carrying on.)