One of my favorite interviews ever! Michelle and I discuss the Free State Project, which offers the best solution against statism, why NH is awesome and how we can keep it that way, COVID-madness, self-ownership, transformations, my Origin Story, and, unbelievably, more!
free state of mind
Oldie but goodie! Back in 2016, The Economist said “shock-troops” were coming… Don’t know why liberty should be “shocking” unless you are so quelled that you like your life with a hulking side of Big Bad Bro totalitarianism, but thousands of “allies” have indeed moved to the Free State to join thousands of liberty lovers already here because “Liberty Lives in New Hampshire!” #MakeYourMove #LiveFreeAndThrive
Live Free, or Try: NH’s Free State Project Reaches Critical Mass
“AFTER successful careers in engineering, Dan and Carol McGuire could have pursued retirements of highbrow ease—the couple’s interests range from American history to collecting modern art. Instead they moved across the country from Washington state in response to an essay by a young libertarian, Jason Sorens, arguing that if enough believers in limited government moved to a single state (ideally one with a small population and a “live and let live” ethos), they could exert real influence.
That essay spawned the “Free State Project” (FSP), whose early members voted to make New Hampshire their testbed. This was a nod to the state’s modest scale, its culture of Yankee self-reliance and low taxes, and its unusually accessible political system, starting with the state’s House of Representatives, whose 400 members answer to a few thousand constituents each, and are paid $100 a year. The FSP devised a pledge for activists to sign, by which they agreed to move to New Hampshire if 19,999 other libertarians made the same commitment. Once that critical mass was reached, FSP members pledged to make their own trek within five years. The FSP announced on February 3rd that the 20,000 target has been reached.
In the past decade 2,000 pioneers could not wait and moved anyway. A total of about 40 Free Staters have been elected to New Hampshire’s statehouse at various points, among them the McGuires, husband-and-wife Republican legislators who represent overlapping districts. Free Staters have helped to legalise gay marriage and ease rules on everything from home schooling to selling unpasteurised milk.
Some wins were easy. A repeal of all state knife laws passed in 2010: Mr McGuire shows off a now-legal switch-blade that can be opened with one hand, noting that such knives are handy tools for paramedics. Mrs McGuire is proud of a law making it simpler for farmers to slaughter their own chickens and rabbits. The couple credit Free Staters with making New Hampshire juries more aware of their right to throw out cases that seem to offend natural justice, under the centuries-old principle of nullification. Future battles loom over school choice and over using public money to send children to private schools.
Free Staters are yet to overcome national partisan divisions. In 2015 New Hampshire’s Democratic governor vetoed a law making it legal to carry a gun without a licence, backed by conservatives of all stripes, some of them libertarians. Interviewed at her suggestion in a smoke-filled Manchester cigar bar, the FSP’s president, Carla Gericke, stresses that some Free Staters have run for office as Democrats (though they are a small minority). One Democratic Free Stater is currently trying to legalise prostitution. Others are moved by internet privacy and alternative currencies such as bitcoin.
Ms Gericke would like to see New Hampshire become a “mix between Alaska and Amsterdam on personal freedoms, and Hong Kong on economic freedoms”. That is a stretch. As a fine place to live New Hampshire attracts lots of newcomers, many of them more conventional than the FSP’s shock-troops. Still, Ms Gericke hopes that are allies on the way. Pledge-signers have e-mailed to say that their homes are on the market, she says. New Hampshire boasts a property firm founded by a Free Stater (and former member of the state House) to help project members move. It is called Porcupine Real Estate, after a favourite libertarian animal, honoured as a beast which is dangerous only when attacked.”
Source: “Live Free, or Try” at The Economist.
My friend Sarah Chamberlain wrote this essay on Medium, and I wanted to share here too. If you only read one thing today, let it be this.
Please save, screenshot, etc., then boost.
I don’t usually ask for my content to be shared. What I am about to say though is perhaps the most important thing I will ever say in public, and in the present landscape of the internet, there is a very high probability that it is being silenced or erased even now as you read it. So, I am asking you to please, save an offline and/or archived copy of this letter RIGHT NOW.
If, once you’ve read this letter, you feel that it has any value or interest whatsoever, please, as a personal favor, send it on through whichever channels, to whichever people you feel safe doing so.
If you think what I say is absurd, please share my letter with your friends so you can all laugh at me.
If you think that what I say is evil, please share it with your friends so you can all rage at me.
If you think I deserve to be punished for what I say, please send my letter on to the “authorities” or to any person you think might hurt me for writing it. At least then, those people will have a chance to read it.
an American, a New Hampshirewoman, a lover of liberty, and a happily married mother of four beautiful children. I have a wonderful life, a bright future, and could not ask for any greater blessing than those I have already received.
My enemies are
in a word, communists. Modern communists do not usually call themselves such. They do not talk about workers rising up and seizing the Means of Production.
Instead, modern communists adopt a rhetorical stance where they assume that all people and all property are ALREADY COLLECTIVIZED, then calmly discuss what WE should do:
– What WE should ALLOW people to own.
– What WE should ALLOW people to do.
– What WE should ALLOW people to say.
– How WE should ALLOW people to use their property.
– How WE should ALLOW people to conduct their businesses,
– … and WHO should be ALLOWED,
– … and WHERE.
– How WE should ALLOW people to raise their children.
– Who should be GIVEN which roles within society.
The issue under discussion is always something sympathetic, something most decent people would like to see fixed: Intergenerational poverty, police brutality, environmental degradation, bigotry, violence.
But the solutions modern communists put forward are rarely passive, and they are never liberating. If a problem can be solved by individual action, voluntary charity, by the free market, or by the passage of time, that is never seen as good enough. In fact, nothing that fails to increase the power and control of governments or certain institutions (or to grow the people’s dependence on them) is ever regarded as a solution at all.
The people who do the work of modern communism, debating and voting on these “issues of the day” are mostly not aware of what they are doing. A majority of them are decent people who want real problems addressed. But their thinking is confined to a multiple choice question presented by prestige media and schools where only oppressive proposals are listed as options.
Even those higher up the food chain, the ones who create the policy proposals or set the bounds of debate around them are not usually conscious of the way they are manipulating the public. They are hobbled by a theory of history (care of the school system) where the past is merely a series of dragons slain by government policy, where everything is “systemic”, and where the free choices and conscientious actions of individuals have no meaningful effect.
This is how the enemy operates.
In order for modern communists to have the latitude to execute their plans, they need every citizen to be as weak and dependent as possible. They especially need the middle tiers of management, professions, and bureaucracy to be filled with minimally competent placeholders who owe their position to political and institutional favor. These sorts of people, since they are only able to achieve their present position through the system, are more pliable to coercion and less likely to see freedom in any aspect of life as promising or beneficial.
As a consequence, modern communists wage eternal war against every wholesome and sustainable aspect of life, society, and culture which gives people or communities strength and independence. They see it as desirable to destroy the natural optimum which people discover through freedom and competition and replace it with fragile, orchid-like solutions which could not thrive without government and/or institutional intervention:
– Those with demonstrable skills must be replaced by those with credentials.
– The self-employed must be reduced to the status of employees.
– Property must become regulated or burdened with tax and debt, and wherever possible, wealth must be rendered intangible as abstracted financial fictions constructed of laws.
– People must come to rely on government programs for security where they previously relied on themselves and each other.
– The traditional family and organic communities it forms, such as churches, must be invaded, defanged, and delegitimized to leave people at the mercy of authorities.
To a modern communist, “freedom” means the opportunity for individuals to choose some fundamentally maladaptive way of life and be protected from consequences, encouraged and subsidized by power.
The weaker you are, the more useful you are to those in power. Those who choose to be weak and dependent where they could be healthy and independent are collaborators.
This is what I see happening.
The American public has come to accept all the components of totalitarian states.
– We have come to accept a militarized police.
– We have come to accept ideological indoctrination in schools.
– We have come to accept mass surveillance.
– We have come to accept speech codes.
– We have come to accept the rewriting of history to serve the interests of the ruling party.
– We have come to accept the tarring of political dissidents as “terrorists”, “extremists”, and “White Supremacists.”
– We have come to accept the State telling us when and where we can meet.
– We have come to accept the State shutting down our places of worship.
– We have come to accept the idea that parents should have no special authority over their children.
– We have come to accept the manipulation of thought through the manipulation of language.
– We have come to accept the radical reordering of society by government in the name of crisis.
In the 2016 election, the full-throated manipulation by the mainstream press, academia, and the political establishment was so intense, and so obvious, that many people (myself included) who did not consider themselves “conservative” voted for Donald Trump just to poke a finger in the eye of Leviathan. So many people did so that his margin of victory exceeded the margin of cheat, and he was actually able to become president.
In the intervening years, the modern communists of both parties (though more so the Democrats) and those same media and academia mandarins have only doubled down on their commitment to subjugating the public and clamping down on our personal freedom and political prerogatives. Somehow, in losing electorally, we are to believe that their mandate for runaway collectivism and authoritarianism was strengthened.
Now, in the 2020 election, the fraud and manipulation became so glaringly obvious that, at the time of writing, at least 47% of all Americans, regardless of party loyalty, understand that the election was stolen and Joe Biden is illegitimate. Somehow though, it is still a long shot that Donald Trump, the person who has done more to expose the mendacity and incompetence of the ruling party and institutions than anyone else, will be seated as President.
Every one of those Americans who understands this must realize that this is it. This is the last moment for the American Republic, the last time we will even have a glimmer of a chance of an honest election result, and the last time any opposition to modern communism will be afforded space in the public square. And yet, neither I nor most of you are going to do anything about this situation that might risk our present status or comfort.
This is why I won’t yet act.
Unfortunately for me, the crisis has come either too late or too early. Our family has four young children, a single income, and a base of assets which could be easily lost but probably never replaced. We are maximally vulnerable to the sorts of attacks which collectivists bring against those who fight back.
Even so, if the fight were on, if the majority of Americans who this past election shows are opposed to creeping collectivism were on the march, I would risk it all to join them. No comfort, no wealth, not even life itself is as important as preserving the possibility of human freedom. The hive-society prison which is being built around us must be demolished at any cost.
But when I look around me, I see many people who are paralyzed as I am. We know that the fight for our republic is unavoidable, and that the time is now, but do not see a nucleus of resistance to which we can pledge our lives, fortunes, and sacred honors without it being tantamount to suicide. We are watching and waiting for someone else to be that nucleus.
Most people who have not committed to the cause of freedom are not conscious supporters of modern communism. Some hold out the futile hope that things will all go back to normal, others have convinced themselves that what is happening is inevitable and cannot be opposed. Both are dead wrong. As open struggle against collectivism, communism, authoritarianism, and globalism rises, both of these positions will weaken, and support for freedom will grow.
If you have the courage to act where I do not,
here is what I WILL do:
– If you speak out against them, I will listen.
– If you act against them, I will not stand in your way.
– If they portray you as uncool, cringey, old-fashioned, unintelligent, or low-class, I will not laugh at you or think less of you.
– If they call you a racist, sexist, xenophobe, homophobe, Nazi, granny killer, etc., I will not believe them, nor will I care.
– If they call you a terrorist or an extremist, I will not assume that you are in the wrong.
– When they ask me questions, I will lie, forget, or evade as I am able.
– When they tell me their version of history, I will smile and nod and know they are liars.
– If they dispossess you, I will share what I can.
– If they martyr you, my children will learn your name as that of a hero.
– If you have the courage to be shameless in opposing them, you will be honored in my house.
This is what I will remember.
1. The universities and the class of “experts” and “professionals” to whom they grant legitimacy have no constitutional role in the American Republic. No amount of schooling grants one authority over others, and no consensus among the educated should have the force of law.
2. The guarantee in the Constitution of “Freedom of the Press” is not a grant of authority to the legacy media or to professional journalists. It is, in fact, a right belonging to the people: WE have the right to publish and disseminate views and information the same as those who work for newspapers or television networks.
3. The Intelligence and Defense establishments of the US exist to secure the rights and liberties of the American people. The US has constructed a vast apparatus to deploy force, subvert or overthrow governments, and disseminate propaganda, but these activities are only legitimate when they are directed OUTWARD. When the geopolitical capabilities of the US government do not act to empower the American people and sustain our Constitution, they are just as criminal as the same actions taken by private citizens.
4. Law enforcement and defense against violence is the responsibility of each and every person. Even though we have become accustomed to having these services provided by professionals, they remain our right and our personal responsibility.
5. Education of the young is the responsibility of parents and natural communities. Even though we have become accustomed to having this service provided by professionals, it remains our right and our personal responsibility.
6. Provision of necessities such as food and shelter is the responsibility of each and every person. Even though we have become accustomed to these goods being delivered by a vast and interconnected economic machinery over which we have little control, it remains our right and our duty to provide for ourselves and those we care about.
7. Though peace, prosperity, happiness, and a long life are all wonderful conditions to experience, they are not what makes a human life worthwhile. Humans have dignity and value insofar as they are free agents struggling and striving to obtain these ends. “Treating someone as a human being” does not mean coddling them and providing for them like you would a child or a pet. It means getting out of their way and leaving them the freedom and latitude to provide for themselves.
8. Whoever relinquishes their freedom to obtain comfort or security is not acting as a human, but as an animal. Because our fates are all intertwined, such a person is betraying all of us, and does not deserve our concern or regard.
— Sarah Chamberlain
Alcohol prohibition ended on December 5, 1933. Now imagine if we ended the prohibition of drugs, as we sensibly did with alcohol.
Imagine if we told people the truth about how harmful each substance is based on science, not peoples’ “feelings” or indoctrinations.
Pot and heroin? Not the same at all. Alcohol? Like, super bad for you even though it’s legal. If you want to improve your health, you should quit using this neurotoxin regularly. I quit alcohol entirely on December 26, 2017. The improvements in my life are remarkable. Try it, you might like it!
We can #LiveFreeAndThrive as long as we are free to make informed decisions about our own bodies. Prohibition doesn’t work, leads to more harm than good, and rewards bad actors. Let’s get the government out of the way, and let the free market reign!
Guest Appearance on The Survival Podcast: Episode-2710- Carla Gericke on Strategic Relocation to New Hampshire
Carla Gericke (JD, MFA) is an advocate of liberty specializing in localized voluntarism, self-determination, and how responsible human action can lead to peace and prosperity. She is president emeritus of the Free State Project, and lives in New Hampshire with thousands of fellow freedom fighters. In 2014, Carla won a landmark case affirming the 1st Amendment right to film police encounters.
She has appeared on WMUR, CNN, and Fox News, been featured in GQ and Playboy, been quoted in The Economist, and has discussed libertarianism on the BBC. She has visited more than 40 countries, hiked to the base camp of the 10th highest mountain in the world, lost a shoe in a taxi more than once, had her passport stolen in Goa, got kidnapped in Vietnam, and has noshed on more “mystery meat” street food than she cares to admit.
Carla once spent an entire summer while working as in-house counsel at Logitech eating tuna fish sandwiches with Doug Engelbart (the Mother Of All Demos dude), she worked on Apple’s acquisition of Steve Job’s NeXT, and bought her first Bitcoin for $6. Carla co-hosts the Told You So podcast, and co-chairs Manch Talk TV. She serves on several non-profit boards, follows a Keto lifestyle, practices yoga and shooting, and plays a mean game of Scrabble.
Carla enjoys cooking, gardening, painting, reading, and watching documentary films. She has twice run for New Hampshire Senate, garnering 42% of the vote in 2018 against an 11-term incumbent, and believes in 2020, third time will be the charm! DONATE to her race TODAY!
Carla’s first book, a collection of award-winning short stories, essays, and speeches, The Ecstatic Pessimist is now available on Amazon. Says Nick Gillespie, Editor-at-Large of Reason Magazine: “It is a fantastic package of writings that veer from fiction, to autobiography and memoir, to political polemics. It’s great, mixes stories about substance abuse, lack of focus, historical wrongs and utopian attempts to remake the world as a better place in a very pragmatic way. I highly recommend The Ecstatic Pessimist: Stories of Hope (Mostly).”
Resources for today’s show…
- Follow Life With Jack on Instagram
- TSP Facebook Group
- Join the Members Brigade
- Join Our Forum
- Move it On Over – George Thororgood and the Destroyers
- The Ecstatic Pessimist: Stories of Hope (Mostly)
- The Told You So Podcast
- Carla For NH Senate
- Carla on Facebook
- Carla on InstaGram
- Carla on Twitter
- Free State Project
Sponsors of the Day
#1: All the Woolen Underthings
When confronted with your first New Hampshire winter, everyone will tell you to invest in woolen undergarments. Everyone will tell you to, but YOU will ignore this advice for at least the first if not the second winter. You will say: “Don’t you tell me what to do,” while thinking, “What difference can a pair of woolen socks really make?” As someone who waited 4 winters to invest in all the woolen underthings, let me tell you unequivocally: A LOT. I’m talking warm tootsies 24/7. Toss in a pair of woolen leggings and a long-sleeved undershirt for when you will be outside for extended periods, and you will find yourself saying: “Wait, what? Winter is over already?” Treat your woolen items with respect–don’t toss them in the dryer!–and they will love you back, winter over winter. Toasty!
#2: Layer Up
And strip down when needed. Layers give you the flexibility to be comfortable, no matter what the temperature is, inside or out. Added bonus: New Hampshire winters come with built-in stripteases!
#3: Increase Your Vitamin D Intake
If you take vitamins, consider doubling your Vitamin D intake during the winter months. This is a no-brainer mood picker-upper.
#4: Invest in a “Happy” Light
Short days getting you down? Let technology be the cure! While winter technically starts mid-December, the days then actually start getting l-o-n-g-e-r again. In the meanwhile, chase away the blahs with a light designed to enhance your mood, and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside the head.
#5: Seize the Day!
Embrace the weather, and get outside. Learn how to ski, and then learn how to ski at night. Discover the tranquility and peace of snowshoeing in fresh powder. Ride a toboggan. Get into a snowball fight. Join fellow Free Staters at a winter luau (pictured). Take a New Year’s Day Polar Plunge. Whatever you do, crawl out from under that blankie, and carpe diem the crap out of winter.
#6: Embrace Your Version of the Serenity Prayer
Whether you are a believer or an ardent atheist, you can manage your relationship with winter by observing some version of the serenity prayer, whether your prefer the religious classic: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change/The courage to change the things I can/And the wisdom to know the difference,” or, the activist version from Angela Davis: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change/I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
Accept your power will likely go out, a Nor’Easter will spoil well-laid plans (possibly to get laid), the plow guy will show up late; it’s winter, trust me, something gnarly will happen. Bottom line: New Hampshire isn’t for sissies. How you approach these challenges will determine how you cope long-term. Change your mindset, and the rest will follow. Including Spring. I promise. It comes like clockwork, every damn time.
#7: Community Reigns Supreme
There is no place on Earth for liberty activists like New Hampshire, regardless of the season. Pop-up parties follow people with power (literal power, like lights and generators). Friends help friends. And there is no better place on Earth to make real, lifetime, meaningful friends than as part of the Free State Project community. Liberty warms the cockles of our aching, over-achieving, dreamer, doer hearts. Join us in New Hampshire, and let us keep you warm with the glow of knowing we are achieving “Liberty in OUR Lifetime.”
This article first appeared on fsp.org on December 15, 2014.
LISTEN NOW… Across cultures, people seem to be growing more and more fragile – are we capable of toughening up? Author Nassim Taleb takes a big departure from mainstream wisdom and suggests that we should work to be antifragile – which is much more than simple resilience. Join your hosts to explore the concept of antifragility, and how it can help you be a stronger person. LISTEN NOW…
I have suffered from stage fright my entire life. When I say “fright,” I mean a full-blown, out-of-body experience during which time I have zero recollection of what is happening, and cannot recall a single word I said. It is terrifying. Imagine having a blackout on stage, in front of an audience. This is me. Every single time.
Forget about imagining the audience naked or, if you’re more polite, in their undies. Forget about emulating your favorite public speakers. Forget about Ouma’s ‘Five Ps’—Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!—because you are about to go on stage, and you are not prepared!
At PorcFest 2011, I looked around the main tent, trying to still my breathing. The space is filled with people I know. Donors. People who want to see the Free State Project succeed. People who want to see me succeed… I think?! I glance across the field, watching brightly clad teenagers playing pick-up basketball. I try to sync my breathing to the bounce of the ball. It doesn’t work. I glance at the notes I’ve jotted down over the past hour in the VIP tent while downing three gin and tonics: “Yankee Hong Kong!!!!” “Success stories!!!” “Gimme your money!!!”
The first time I experienced a blackout speech was at Mafikeng Primary School. I must have been eight or nine. I was two years younger than my classmates, which came with its own set of challenges, but mostly manifested itself in me trying too hard. I won’t lie: I was a Smart Aleck.
(As smart as you can be when you are constantly playing catch-up.)
As part of our curriculum, we did a public speaking course. Half your grade came from prepared speeches given over the term, and the other, from impromptu talks where the teacher gave you a topic, five minutes to prepare a short talk by jotting down your ideas on flash cards, and then you were expected to give a three minute speech to the class.
My topic that day was about what would happen if the drought we were experiencing never ended. I wrote ‘World Wars!!!!’ on my card.
That was it.
When I came to, when I reentered by body, no longer hovering above myself watching my mouth move, when the electrical charges coursing through my insides left, and the shooting starbursts in my peripheral vision disappeared, when I could again identify my peers and friends sitting in front of me, and I returned to the stuffy classroom trailer that smelled of dust and chalk, the teacher was on her feet, giving me a standing ovation.
She had never reacted like this before. I could tell my classmate were confounded, perhaps even a little jealous. They were clearly not as impressed with whatever had come out of my mouth as the teacher was, but, being polite and intelligent enough to understand her enthusiasm should translate to theirs, they joined in, clapping. I have no idea what I said, but apparently, my doom and gloom rendition of a world without water and the perpetual wars that would follow had struck a nerve with Miss.
The next distinct memory of such an out-of-body experience was during my interview to become a Rotary Exchange student. I was sixteen, a senior in high school. I was dating my first boyfriend, Stephan Le Roux, and had become ambivalent about leaving South Africa (him, really) for a whole year to lands unknown, but the competitive part of me wanted to prove that I could win. That I could be picked over my more mature (and likely better balanced) compatriots.
Being a Rotary Exchange student from South Africa in 1988 came with baggage. Big White Apartheid Baggage. Even if you were anti-apartheid, as I was, you had to be able to frame the despicable Nationalist policies with some semblance of nuance. Like being able to defend the homelands—the shithole areas designated as “tribal lands”—by arguing that most of South Africa was a shithole, so they weren’t being especially punished by being banished to these inarable places.
My parents, who both worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs at the time, prepped me good and hard, sitting around the kitchen table every evening after dinner.
Ma: “What percentage of South Africa is arable?”
Me: “Less than 27%”
Pa: “Good, good. Remember to point out that means lots of areas are less than optimal for human occupation, not just the homelands. Now, let’s go over Nelson Mandela again.”
I went into that interview with the Rotary Club of Hatfield as well prepared as Pik Botha–imagine a mashup between Robert McNamara and Dick Cheney: charming and dangerous, and not only when hunting–the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs would have been.
I nailed the interview. Except, once again, I have no idea what I said. The interviewers were concerned about my relative youth—there’s a big difference between sending a sixteen year old versus an eighteen year old overseas on their own, as we know from the Permissible Age to Murder Citizens (AKA, the draft)—so the Rotary committee decided I would be ineligible for a full year scholarship, but offered me six weeks in Germany instead.
I’d been to Germany before. The boyfriend won out.
Stephan and I wrote and performed anti-establishment plays during our ‘Varsity years. One, called “Die Klein Krul Swart Haartjie”—The Tiny Curly Black Hair, which referred to a pubic hair, not an afro, as people who refused to attend failed to grasp—was banned on campus, and pushed to the Fringe of the Grahamstown Arts Festival, the largest arts festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Relegated to a 2 p.m. slot at a primary school miles from the downtown action, we were not the greatest of successes, although I did learn the meaning of a new word from a review we received—one that said the show was in the spirit of “Not the Nine o’Clock News.”
“Scatological?” Stephan asked, reading the review, English being his second language. “Is that good?”
“Very,” I said firmly, making a mental note to consult the Oxford English when I got home.
During that Grahamstown performance, my stage fright took an even more alarming turn, in that I literally forgot my lines. The final coup de grace of the scene was supposed to be mine, a zinger at the end, in a devastatingly critical and clever piece about the power of individuality as it triumphs over the state.
“You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole,” I was supposed to say.
But nothing came out. My mind dissolved into blankness, my synapses reaching out, searching for the answer, the words I knew came next, but all there was only a blindingly chasm of nothingness, a dark, empty blackboard stretching in my brain. Every word I knew, any word, just beyond reach.
Other times, it happened in court. When I started practicing law during my articleship, I took Legal Aid Board cases in the townships that no one else at the firm would touch. The country was on the cusp of radical changes, with a new Constitution in the works. One time, I represented a nineteen year old boy-child, who had been in jail since he was sixteen, who had not even been given a trial date yet. Even though the Constitution had not yet been adopted, we’d learned about all these newfangled, shiny human rights in Law School, and I made an impassioned plea in Court as to why the judge should release this young defendant on bail. Except I don’t recall a word. For me, that day: Blankety, blank, blank.
You cannot fit a square peg in a round hole.
You cannot fit a square peg in a round hole.
You cannot fit a square peg in a round hole.
Will it ever end?
Part of the issue is I have an artist’s heart and a lawyer’s brain. I once saw a Venn Diagram with two circles. One was, “Overwhelming Narcissism,” and the other, “Crushing Insecurity.” The part where they overlapped: “Art.” And so, I disregard my betraying brain, and I keep pushing through my fears towards my heart, towards my art.
Now in 2019, eight years from that time I took the stage at PorcFest, I get ready for my talk, which officially kicks off the 16th annual Porcupine Freedom Festival. In these ensuing years, I have quit drinking alcohol, which means I no longer get to drown my stage fright in amnesia-inducing booze. It means I no longer have to take a swig of tequila in the car in the parking lot at 8:30AM before heading into the NHPR office to be pilloried for believing in freedom, peace, and prosperity. I also no longer take prescription beta blockers to alleviate the stage fright, which helped with the symptoms of my anxiety, but for some reason made me sweat like a junkie in withdrawal–not a great look for TV! And, I haven’t vomited prior to an interview since 2016!
My positive life choices over the past two years (Keto diet, Bikram yoga, and ENOUGH SLEEP) means I have a new clarity, and yet, I am still nervous as hell, and, of course, not as prepared as I should be. But whyyyyyy!?!? On the Ouma scale, I’d say I’m at: “Partial Preparation Makes for Somewhat Passable Performance.”
I ask myself why I keep pushing. Why subject myself to this terror? Why don’t I just give up and say, Public Life is Not for Me (says the woman who wants that Senate seat!)? But I know why… Because I have important ideas to share and a unique voice to share them with. A voice that may tremble, a woman who may cry on stage when talking about what brought her to New Hampshire, and what broke and healed her on the journey to where she is today. I keep pushing because to give up would be to admit defeat, to say I can’t improve, when I know, and have proved to myself, that I can. Better… not perfect. But improving, consciously, actively, by choice, and hard work… I am becoming a better me.
[Stay tuned for the video of my 2019 PorcFest talk coming soon, “How I learned to stop faking it and become a better me.”]