Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Act

On Friday, I talked about the power of choice.  You can choose the light or the dark, and you change the world with each choice you make.  I said that, in a world where one person can traumatize an entire region with his actions, it's up to the rest of us to choose the light.

Of course, choice is meaningless if it isn't accompanied by action.  You can choose to believe all kinds of things, crazy or sane, positive or destructive, but they have no weight until you act on them.  I, and others like me, need to respond to this horrible event, not just feel bad about it. We need to spread a little light, a little joy, and drown out the darkness that one man brought into all of our lives.

So, after much thought and bouncing my ideas off of some trusted friends, here's my idea: I want to give people a night at the movies. Not just a few people, but whole theaters full of people. I want to go to theaters in the Denver area (and especially the area around Aurora) and say to everyone who walks in the doors, "Tonight, the movie's on us. Go, enjoy. This isn't a fundraiser, it's not a memorial service. Some douchebag tried to steal a night of fun from all of us. Tonight, we're giving it back."

This may seem trivial in the face of the tragedy that we experienced, and I know that going to the movies can't bring people back from the dead. But where one man tries to sow hate and destruction, I believe that it's up to the rest of us to respond with love and life, to seek out joy rather than embracing that darkness. If we just sit around and feel bad, then the douchebag wins.

To me, this isn't about politics or policies.  It isn't about gun control or the price of freedom.  It's about people.  People who are hurt and afraid, who have had something special stolen from them.  People who think about going out to the movies and now think, "Maybe it's safer to just stay home."  This is about a region that has been traumatized once again by stupid, selfish, mindless violence.  I can't turn back time and make this go away, but maybe I can heal a little bit of the memory by giving people a joyful moment at the movie theater.

I've found a few other people and companies to join me in this crazy idea, and we welcome more people to join us.  We're taking Denver to the movies on Saturday, August 11, and I want to treat as many people as possible.  If you'd like to join us, go here for more details.

Let's spread a little light together.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Choose

In the aftermath of last night's mass shooting at the midnight showing of Batman here in Colorado, everyone is already trying to understand what happened and, more importantly, whom to blame.  Did the movie make him do it?  Is it Hollywood's fault for constructing bullet-ridden fantasies and foisting them on the public every summer?  Is it the NRA's fault for making sure he had access to the weapons he used?  Is it the government's fault for not enforcing gun control policies or not banning the sale of assault weapons?  Is it the media's fault for covering these sorts of terrible events 24/7 and drawing crazies to the spotlight like moths to a flame? 

Let's be very clear here.  One person is at fault: the shooter. 

No one made him do this, he wasn't tricked into committing a heinous outrage against humanity.  He chose to attack a group of strangers, he methodically planned that attack, and he carried it out.  At any point, he could have turned back and not done this, and no one would have known, but he made the choice.  That's it.  No mitigating circumstances, no political arguments, no media spotlight.  He chose, he acted, he killed.

Free will's a bitch, ain't it?

We are all independent beings, each created with a free mind and a free will.  We have complete freedom to act, and both we and the world bear the consequences of those actions, good or bad.  The same mind that can create a symphony of aching beauty can craft a message of enduring hate.  The will that can choose to lift up starving children from poverty can instead choose to massacre innocents.  That's the power of choice, and it comes with the birth certificate.

We all want to know why this happened, what drove a man to murder his fellow human beings.  We want to find some extenuating circumstances, some childhood trauma or chemical imbalance that made him incapable of knowing right from wrong.  More than anything, we want to know that this potential for unreasoning violence is limited to him (or people like him), that we could never do anything so awful.  We want to lie to ourselves.

Because in the end, the why doesn't matter.  The reasons that we hear, or the ones we make up, won't change the fact that every one of us has the same power of creation and destruction in our hands every moment of every day.  With every choice we make, large or small, we make the world more beautiful or more ugly, full of love or full of hate.  And the consequences of these actions ripple around us constantly.  Some actions, like last night's, make a big splash that quickly reaches around the world.  Others may only touch a few people, but those ripples keep going, as action inspires action inspires reaction, until the waves carry over the horizon.  You will never know how many lives you will change simply by being on this planet.  Your power is greater than you can possibly fathom, and you don't even have to get on TV to use it.

So what will we do with this power?  That's the question we must answer every day.  Will we choose to work for our own benefit, to take what we can and let everyone else fend for themselves?  Will we reply to evil with evil, hating those who we think have done us wrong?  Will we abdicate our power to others, letting them make the decisions and simply choosing to follow along?  Or will we revel in our world-changing capabilities and make our own waves? 

More importantly, how do we respond to the evil, destructive choices of others?  I, for one, believe that good can overwhelm evil, that "perfect love casts out fear."  When one person chooses great evil, then many people must rise up and choose to go out of their way to do good, in large ways and small.  We can choose to sit around and be fascinated by one person's horribly wrong choices, or we can choose to go out and make more beauty, more love, more joy, and drown that darkness in light.

That's what I choose to do. How about you?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Heil Valley Ranch Kicked My Butt, Repeatedly

Here are my first impressions of mountain biking at Heil Valley Ranch, after three years of saying, "I should really give that a try."

I need a better suspension.

Heil Valley Ranch should be renamed, "The Boulder Rock Garden," because that's the only thing you'll find on the trails.  Big rocks, small rocks, loose rocks, pointy rocks.  You know the terrain is bad when you choose to ride in the deep sand because it offers a more pleasant experience.  After the first 45 minutes on this trail that would make Sisyphus weep, I longed to see a tree root, tree trunk, snake, charging bull elk, anything soft to run into.

Riding a hardtail bike on these trails is the physical equivalent of hiring an army of gnomes to kick you in the urethra at the rate of one kick per second for an hour.  And that's on the way up.  On the way down, the gnome army marches across your taint double-time.  I have decided that the "Wapiti Trail,"despite its quaint Native American sound, is actually named after the repetitive sound your saddle makes against your butt as you ride.  I met an experienced rider on my way up the trail who looked like she wanted to weep after simply trying to descend this petrous perdition.  She had already crashed once on the shifting shale and wanted nothing more to do with it.  At that point, I could hardly blame her.

Anyone who enjoys riding Heil Valley Ranch is a masochist.  Anyone who recommends it to a friend is a sadist and should not even be allowed to decide on dessert.  They'd probably choose flan.  If your friend invites you to ride Heil Valley Ranch, ride as fast as you can in the other direction.  It's more likely that he wants to kill you and leave your body in the canyon.

Under a big pile of rocks.

Go if: you like spankings
Don't go if: you have any feeling left in your butt, feet, or hands, and want to keep it that way.