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Squandering our gifts brings distress to our lives. As it turns out, it’s not merely benign or ‘too bad’ if we don’t use the gifts that we’ve been given; we pay for it with our emotional and physical well-being. When we don’t use our talents to cultivate meaningful work, we struggle. We feel disconnected and weighted down by feelings of emptiness, frustration, resentment, shame, disappointment, fear, and even grief.
When I talk to audiences about the size and age of the cosmos, people often say, It makes me feel so insignificant. I answer, The bigger and more impersonal the universe is, the more meaningful you are, because this vast, impersonal place needs something significant to fill it up. We’ve abandoned the old belief that humanity is at the physical center of the universe but more come back to believing we are at the center of meaning.
I certainly don’t agree with the bodybuilders who say you can get big forearms just by squeezing the dumbbell handles when doing curls. In a few cases this may be true, but those guys would build big forearms by merely eating eggs in the morning. Most bodybuilders, myself included, have to work very hard for any kind of meaningful forearm development.
Writing a book is about me doing the work to get from the obsessive particular to something that reaches out of that in some meaningful way. It doesn’t come easy to me. I really admire people who do it with acuity, but I don’t, and for me it takes the process of working on a book for years to do any thinking that I feel accomplishes anything. I don’t do it off the cuff well.
If young people had love, hope, true education, the arts, full and meaningful lives they won’t join gangs. My life since living the gang and drugs has been directed to making positive what it means to be Chicano, human, man, woman, and on how to draw out the imagination and creativity that all people have.