November Again [A Story About Being Different]

It’s been a while, but last night I wrote a short story and thought I would share it with everyone! I hope you enjoy it.

A short story I wrote about being different and finding acceptance.

A short story I wrote about being different and finding acceptance.

Advertisements

Love is:

Love is… life-changing and yet always with us. Love is… complex and yet so simple. Love is… mysterious and yet an emotion that we have felt almost every single day of our lives.

I, along with most of humanity, have often wondered what love is. Is it a caused by nerve impulses or chemicals in the brain? Is it something a little more metaphysical or spiritual? What causes us to fall so hard and so fast and why do we ever fall back out of love?

Well, I had a little personal epiphany today and I hoped that my thoughts would help even just one person:

Love is:

Love is an incredible kind of relationship in which two people help each other to grow into better versions of themselves. Sometimes, after we grow, these new versions no longer fit together as well as they once did. This should not make us sad but rather grateful, and simply means that the other person’s love has guided us to a point in our lives where we are ready to accept something or someone else’s help in order to reach our most beautiful potential.

Moving the Movement

There are many things in my life for which I’m passionate. Things that fill my every waking (and sometimes sleeping) thought with drive and fire. Above all other topics, nothing pushes me to make a difference quite like environmentalism. But there’s a major problem with this movement: It hasn’t experienced much movement at all in the past 40 years. So I am writing this: a memorandum for the new environmental movement.

Tree Huggers and Hippies (In the White House?)

First, a background on our past attempts. In the 1970’s President Nixon and all of Washington had their hands forced because of civil unrest. Americans were enraged over the incredible amounts of pollution poisoning our air and Silencing our Springs. The Nixon administration sided with the outrage and created Clean Air, Water, and Land acts, the EPA, and took other huge steps in the right environmental direction. We had the first Earth Day in 1970 with 20 million participants across the country and the aisle. Hell, President Carter even put solar panels on the roof of the White House. The country was passionate and environmentalism rose above politics as a global responsibility. This was dubbed “The Decade of the Environment.” Never again would we push aside these problems and ignore our planet.

The Tone

But under it all, under all the progress, the leaders of the movement made a major mistake. One so powerful, that it would fracture and stall their efforts even to today. Was it a personal attack? Or a controversial policy? Or a scandal amongst the leaders? No, the single biggest mistake was tonal.

That’s it, the tone was all wrong. In the early 70’s, huge amounts of educated but naïve, college graduates flocked to create new, egalitarian communes focused on living off the land. Technology, industry, and capitalism were seen as part of the environmental problem and these groups created new systems that lived in harmony with nature. They farmed, built homes, and armed with guitars and manes of long hair, they sought to bring Americans back to a period of time before pollution and suburban affluence. They were noble, but as I said, naïve. Their drive would fade and their communes would fall apart, leaving one important legacy behind:

Environmentalism = Compromise

The movement became associated with a living-with-less attitude. We needed to drive less, buy less, build less, and move back to a style of living more akin to the 19th century. In the 70’s and early 80’s this was accepted by many as the only path to protect our planet but with this ideology, a rift was starting to form. Industry, oil, and big business saw the movement as a threat to their existence. In 1980, Republican Ronald Reagan defeated President Carter and widened this rift even further. He was a self-proclaimed environmentalist, but this is an excerpt from his 1979 Announcement for Presidential Candidacy:

“They tell us we must learn to live with less, and teach our children that their lives will be less full and prosperous than ours have been; that the America of the coming years will be a place   where – because of our past excesses – it will be impossible to dream and make those dreams come true.

I don’t believe that.  And, I don’t believe you do either.  That is why I am seeking the presidency.  I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself.  Our leaders attempt to blame their failures on circumstances beyond their control, on false estimates by unknown, unidentifiable experts who rewrite modern history in an attempt to convince us our high standard of living, the result of thrift and hard work, is somehow selfish extravagance which we must renounce as we join in sharing scarcity.  I don’t agree that our nation must resign itself to inevitable decline, yielding its proud position to other hands.”

The Rift

Because of the environmentalists’ collective tone, President Reagan was able to marginalize the movement. To make it seem extremist and false. He deregulated industry, stripped the EPA, and even took down President Carter’s solar panels. Why? Because the environmental movement was now the enemy of progress and worse, the American Dream.

We see that in the 30 years since, little has changed. Both American political parties seem resistant to stand up for the Earth at the risk of seeming against progress. Promoting “clean” fossil fuels and carefully crafting policies that seem to benefit the environment but in truth do virtually nothing to undo a century’s worth of damage. Where Americans were once united, we are now divided, all because of a mistake in tone 40 years ago. So we environmentalists have a problem. We all know it, but what’s the solution?

Correcting the False Narrative

If the single biggest issue with the movement is this false narrative that caring for the planet means that you are against progress, then the solution is simple: We have to show that environmentalism and progress go hand in hand. Here are three major ways that illustrate this:

1. What is the biggest driver of the economy? Innovation. America didn’t become a super power by riding on the coat tails of other nation’s inventors. We had our own. At one time, we lead every major industry because of our innovation. So why should we settle to ride along on the Middle East’s fossil fuel coat tail when we could lead in a more responsible and ultimately more profitable industry like renewable energy? That’s what I call economic recovery.

2. Environmentalism is sexy. Business leaders have much to gain by announcing to the world that they are going green. No one has ever said, “This company is switching to renewable energy? They lost my business.” The opposite is true. People will go out of their way to buy your brand. So do it for your profit margin if not for the ethics.

3. If we look at progress in terms other than economic wealth, we have a lot to gain by promoting responsible policies. Studies show that if we make cities more harmonious with the world around them, people are happier, there is a greater sense of community, crime rates decrease, population increases, tourism increases, and economic returns are greater. Make your city an environmental Mecca, and many other problems are lessened automatically.

We Can Rebuild it. We Have the Technology.

These are the facts. Environmentalism isn’t about living with less or shutting down progress, it’s about living a better, more responsible and satisfying life. And it’s even profitable! We need to change the ideology and the rhetoric and we have the tools. The easiest way we can change this culture is by talking about it. Share your ideas and feelings with friends and family. Tell your local politicians. Tell anyone who will listen! It’s easy and have the perfect platform: Social Media. The internet made the Occupy Movement a serious force and made the 99% a part of daily vernacular. Twitter helped young people organize the Arab Spring movement, promoting protest in dozens of Middle Eastern nations and even forcing five leaders from power. Let’s add an environmental revolution to that list.

We can do more and we can do better. The new environmental movement is primed and ready. So use your voice, vote with your wallet, involve the Earth in more of your everyday choices, and let’s get this movement moving!

Alex Mendenall
Environmentalist/Activist
B.A. Anthropology
Michigan State University

Autumn’s Dance

Autumn's Dance

I painted and wrote this in dedication to my favorite season. Here comes fall!

Autumn’s Dance

Silver ribbons, hazy grey,
Gentle shadows, steal the day.
Breezes whisper, through the leaves,
Branches sway and, set them free.

Gliding slowly, to the ground,
Fiery leaves make, not a sound.
‘Til they join the, sea below,
Watching raindrops, as they go.

Streaks of moonlight, break the grey,
Shine on pumpkins, like the day.
Winds blow briskly, stirring leaves,
Now they swirl so, wild and free.

Flying high a-, ‘bove the ground,
Trav’ling birds all, sing and sound.
Watching o’er the, scene below,
Autumn’s dance is, soon to go.

If you like fall, check out my song, Harvest Moon available for only 99 cents at: http://www.reverbnation.com/store/artist_3037738

-Alex

Twenty-Four Days

Twenty-four days. It’s so interesting to me the way time works. If I told you that you had twenty-four days to live, you would probably be devastated. “24 days? I don’t have much time left.” But then again, if I said that you have to live in a glass box with no access to the outside world for twenty-four days, it would seem like an eternity. “24 days? I don’t think I can do this for that long.” Well, I have that same strange perception of time right now.

For me twenty-four is the number of days standing between myself and my future. It’s both short and yet still so distant because I am less than four weeks from pure, blissful freedom. Not the kind that schoolkids dream of while waiting for summer break. Not freedom to do nothing, but rather freedom to do what I love: Music. Even still, that’s twenty-four days of fighting, pushing, getting through the daily grind.

In the meantime I am making the most of my time. Preparing, learning, living, but always daydreaming. Maybe pursuing the only calling that has ever felt like home will not be what I hope. Maybe a dark road lies ahead. Maybe that road never ends for me. But then again, so what? I can’t second guess my dreams because the second I do that, I accept mediocrity. I accept a life that I am not meant to lead.

So what if these twenty-four days are easier, more hopeful, and brighter than the next? All I know is that in four short/long weeks, I will be on my way: a guitar in my hand, lyrics on my tongue, and music in my heart.

So bring it on, future.

-Alex

Going For It

Going For It

I decided today after waiting for an eternity on something with a particular promoter to come through, that I would just move on and move up. So I’m going for it. I’m gonna get my name out there, self-promote, and make it happen. Thus far, I have had a rapid outpouring of support on Facebook from my friends and family. It has been incredibly encouraging. Now, I hope to slowly but surely expand these two groups to surrounding circles. I want to do what I love for people who love me, in hopes doing my part to spread love across the world.

So follow this link and help me go for it.

-A

One Step Closer

Something happened today that made a major dream of mine feel one step closer. After over a month of trying to arrange band bookings through a local buyer, I finally got a most unexpected result. I think the phone call went something like this:

“Hey this is Alex, from Accidental Naturals.”

“Hey Alex, How’s it going?”

“Not too bad, Any news?”

“Have you ever played solo before?”

“Uh… [lie] A couple of times, yes. [/lie]”

“Great, can you come out to Reno’s East tomorrow night and play some songs out there around 8?”

“Uh….. Definitely!”

And that was the moment. I had nearly given up on playing music for a living. I had tried the cover band route, the Pop Rock route, the Alt-Rock route, the duo route, but had almost entirely forgotten about the solo route. Yet here I am, one day away from possibly beginning my dreams. I’m not delusional; this one show won’t catapult me on this road. But even just a local show here and there is enough for me for right now. I just want to express myself and help others experience my life and love through music and this really does feel like the right path.

So now I feel one step closer to this life. And even if this doesn’t work out, I’m certainly no further away than I was yesterday. I’ve got nothing to lose, right?

-A