If this is what a midlife crisis looks like, I hope it never ends

I’ve known that the summer of 2015 would be epic, but little did I know what shape its memories would take. Having left my job two months ago, and with the benefit of one month remaining on my sabbatical-of-sorts, a few reflections worth sharing leap to my mind.

This summer followed a six year professional sprint. Twice over the past 15 years, I came to Washington from San Francisco, inspired by the need to dedicate myself to vital struggles with world historical consequences: in 2003 it was the war in Iraq, then in 2009 it was the mass surveillance legacy of the Bush & Obama administrations that many overlooked until four years later, when the Snowden revelations exposed the emergence of state surveillance in the US to a degree unimaginable since the demise of the Soviet Union.

When the summer began, the last thing on my mind was the crucial need to give thanks for every day I continue to breathe. My dear friend Jay Marx — the very first person I ever met in DC even before moving here 12 years ago — tragically passed away at a festival only a few hours after I last saw him. His memory lives on as an inspiration to many, and I’m thankful for the chance to have shared so much time with him during his last weekend with us.

Jay’s passing helps remind me that, before all else, I am simply another human being. Like me, Jay defined his life in terms of resistance to various forms of domination and oppression — yet at the various events honoring his memory, what everyone seemed most to remember was his smile and warmth. While I take a great deal of inspiration from the principles that I defend, and I remain profoundly grateful for the chance to play my roles as a lawyer, writer, and strategist working to defend people from abuses of power, I am more than simply a cog in a wheel — whether of corporate America, or instead our fractured and struggling resistance to it. 

Needless to say, I’ve appreciated the chance to have some space from my work in order to think carefully about these issues and my transition through my midlife crisis. And if this is what one looks like, I hope it never ends.

A week after leaving my job, I reconnected with a long lost friend, met a small army of new ones, and broke through some personal musical barriers at the Freeform arts festival in Pennsylvania.

A week later, I was back in Cuba (for the second time this year) with a dozen friends. Words can’t possibly do justice to either the place or our trip, though I do hope to inspire my travel companions to write some reflections that we might all someday combine. My highlights included the chance to cross-pollinate my East and West Coast families, experience the Cuban medical system, and connect with dear spirits from lands as far flung as Hawaii and Czechoslovakia whose paths I was lucky to cross in Havana.

I returned to the US just in time to play another music festival, the PEX summer music festival in Maryland. That weekend offered not only the first performance fully realizing the vision that drove me to start DJing in the first place at the beginning of 2014, but also my first marathon set, a five hour downtempo romp that carried me through most of Sunday.

The rest of July went by in a blur. I spent several days in Brooklyn catching up with old friends, recovering from some minor injuries I endured in June, and taking more or less random swipes at any of the several writing projects on which I’d hoped to focus before the summer began.

Transformus came and went quickly. I went largely to embrace my favorite regional Burning Man event before moving back to California, to record some funk tracks (which unfortunately fell through), and also to get away from my dear friends in the Northeast in order to immerse myself in beginner’s mind. While I realized each of those aspirations except for the recording sessions, I did not expect to return to DC mourning a friend.

I’ll write more about Jay for my column on the Burning Man blog, and look forward to sharing his formidable legacy with others. I needed to write this post just to share some of my own reflections.

Last week, I turned 41 years old and reveled in several memorable experiences: a birthday dinner with a dozen close friends followed by a manic night reveling on the dance floor at 18th St. Lounge, a birthday party with more goodbye hugs than I could count from friends both new and old, and an all-night memorial to my dearly departed friend culminating in his favorite coffee table game, which we played in the rear bed of a pick up truck on a public street between 2 and 6 AM on a Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Tomorrow, I start a two-week road trip across the country to the West Coast, which I adore and have missed dearly for most of the past decade. I can’t wait to see what I find when I finally return, though I also hope never to forget the phenomenal moments, adventures, and companions I’ve found in the East.

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