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together

ROCK. PAPER. SCISSORS. – Be Together.  Not the same.

1983 was a very transitional time for me, as I was about to enter my first year in middle school as a 6th grader and McDonald’s had just introduced the chicken McNugget.  Yeah, you know those nuggets changed your life too, admit it.  Swatch also released their first watch that year, which I would later overdose on and wear way too many at a time on both arms, but that’s for another 80s story.  One story that always comes to mind though as a new middle schooler is one of my first real experiences with a bully.  I remember him clearly, yet I always forget his name.  What’s funny is that it made no sense why this guy was bullying me and several others, because he was short and to this day is probably the size of Mr. Danny Devito the lovable little actor.  One would think that HE would be the victim of bullying because of his awkward size and I only use the word “awkward” because at that time he was obviously very different from most kids.  He wasn’t technically a dwarf or little person, but was small, stocky, strong, and definitely menacing to me.  For reasons unknown to this day he chose me as a target and would constantly pick at me.  I don’t recall ever having to give him my lunch money but he put a fear in me that eventually led me to share with my older brother, someone who didn’t play around and wasn’t going to allow anyone to mess with me.

My brother is about 4 years older than me and the early 80s were the beginning of many many tough years for him.  A year earlier our dad had died from Cancer so all we had was each other and even as he struggled with his own issues and even though we had brotherly fights ourselves, he was going to do his best to watch over and protect me as needed.  The next day after receiving this news about the bully, he met up with me on the side of the school where I would normally run into this little bully and sure enough he could be seen walking down the sidewalk towards the school gate exit.  He saw me and as he and his friends approached and got closer my brother stepped in front of me and confronted him.  My brother drilled him about his bullying and Mr. Bully was clearly concerned and worried and without any warning or notice, my brother punched him right in the forehead.  This surprised everyone that was surrounding us and within seconds the guy’s forehead swelled up like a baseball.  My brother calmly asked him to leave me alone and from that day forward me and the bully became friends, which lasted all the way through high school.  Turns out he wasn’t so menacing after all and was actually a very nice person.  He just needed a little guidance and punch in the forehead.

I bring up this story because here I am, 44 yrs old, and I thought that bullying and situations like this were reserved for the school yard, yet I see more of this behavior by adults everyday on social media and yes, even in person.  You would think that with age we would mature and handle things differently but I feel like social media has created a world where humans are finding it a lot easier to bully, bash, attack, and beat up on each other with words and images.  More than ever I’ve seen this bad behavior as we approach an election and I’ve seen sides of people that I never thought existed, all in the name of politics.  People are getting angry and wanting to poke people’s eyes out because of differing opinions and views.  Speak against the opposing candidate or appear to be supporting another and you run the risk of being eaten alive or have your limbs torn off.  It’s very sad and it shouldn’t be this way, but it is and all I can do is acknowledge it and ask those in my circle and my readers to do something different and be different.

The video below is one that I saw this past year during the Oscars and I have to give props to the agency that created this, because they delivered a message of unity better than I’ve ever seen. Every one of us is different in many ways yet we are all very much the same.  We all have hands, feet, eyes, a brain (some bigger than others), we have beating hearts and that heart pumps the same blood throughout our veins.  We’re going to have differing opinions and politics, we’re going to like different music, and we’re going to see the world differently, but please don’t allow those differences to cause ugliness or hate.  Don’t allow those differences to attack your brother or sister and hurt one another.  We’re bigger than that and we may have had an excuse for this behavior as kids but we definitely have no excuses as adults.  Learn from one another and accept each other’s differences.

So whether you’re a rock, a wrinkly piece of paper, or those little tiny scissors that they give you in elementary school that don’t cut worth a damn, be nice to one another, love each other, and encourage those around you to do the same.

With lots of love.

@hectorgarciahtx

bully

BETTER PART 2  |  FEAR:  THE BIG BULLY

It was 1984 and I was 12 years old in a new school in Spring Branch.  Two years earlier my dad passed away from Cancer and my mom moved us into a new neighborhood as a result of a new marriage and some new life changes.  I was one of many little Hispanic kids that were bused in from apartments a few miles away to a “rich white school” (at the time) called Spring Branch Middle School.  It was a tough year for me, but was also one of the best years of my life.  Breakdancing was new and it became my lifestyle.  It was also a year that I was introduced to BMX freestyle, which has been a part of my life to this day.

But one thing that wasn’t great that year was something that I’m not very proud of.  You see, I had been bullying this little white kid for most of the first semester.  I’m not sure how it all started, but everyday or at least every other day I was picking on this kid by intimidating him with “toughness” and making him give me his lunch money.  Yes, just like in the movies, I was getting lunch money from this kid and it was easy.  I never got violent with him or hit him, but there was enough intimidation there to get him to comply.  My bully tactics all came to a head one morning as we walked out to the field for gym class.  I remember coming up from behind him and in one instant, I had pulled his shorts down to his ankles.  He was totally caught off guard, but more than that, I embarrassed the hell out of him. All red faced and in shock, he quickly pulled his shorts back up and as quickly as my friends started laughing and making fun of him, it all came to an end by the grip of my gym teacher’s hand on my shoulder.  It wasn’t funny to him of course, and a few minutes later, I found myself sitting in the principal’s office.  I eventually apologized to that kid but I have no idea how it affected him in the future, and to this day I still think about how sucky that all was.

Fast forward to August 2015, as I sit here and work with my friend Spotify.  He’s been playing music all morning, and his band of choice at the moment is Blue October, a band that I’ve come to love very much over the years.  They have a song called FEAR and as I’m listening to it there is a line that reminded me of my junior high bully days.  That line says “Fear in itself will reel you in and spit you out over and over again, believe in yourself and you will roar!” This statement is powerful, especially coming out of the mouth of Justin Furstenfeld, and as I’ve listened to the song over and over and over I can’t help but visualize “fear” as being a big intimidating bully, pushing people around, slapping them in the head and making them give “him” their lunch money.

Fear CAN be a bully and it can keep us from doing so many great things.  It can be the deciding factor between taking on a new job, taking on new challenges at school, or something as “simple” as following one’s heart.  Whatever the case, fear is known for being that little voice that sits on your shoulder that says things like “you can’t do it” or “if you do that you’re friends or family are going to think you’re crazy” or even “hahahahaha, you’ll never succeed at that”.  Fear is mean, unrelenting, and it hates you.  It wants to destroy you and doesn’t want to see you succeed or be happy.

There is a video online of a small little kid antagonizing a bigger taller boy outside of a junior high school.  (see video below)  Casey, the larger kid, gets punched in the face and continually poked at by the smaller boy.  Casey takes it for a little bit, but then realizes that the only way to make this stop is to grab the little bully and slam him to the ground.  Only then does the situation change and as Casey walks away, the little bully can be seen limping off camera in a daze and wounded.  That little kid symbolizes fear and the only way to win over fear is to face it head on and body slam it.  As the song states, it’s mission is to “reel you in over and over and over again and then spit you out”.  Only until a person can “believe in themselves” and punch fear in the mouth, will they be able to walk on with pride and roar like the awesome lion that they are.

Whatever fear you might be facing today, don’t let it continue to bully you.  Quit thinking so much and make your move.  Follow your heart.  Follow your dreams and don’t do anything based on what others may or may not think.  Too many times we make decisions based on pleasing others, and that in itself is a fear that needs to be body slammed.  Fear can never win.  Don’t let it win.  Body slam it,  roar like that damn lion that you are.

@hectorgarciahtx