“Do or do not. There is no try.”
The Buddha

This quotation, ostensibly from the Buddha, is on my current favorite t-shirt. This is my favorite shirt since it has a long tail and easily covers my big belly. The belly fat is due in large part to two things: my major sweet tooth that seems to primarily kick in between seven and nine PM every night and my HIV meds that rapidly accelerate the metabolic syndrome that leads to abdominal fat deposition. My protruding belly is in stark contrast to my gaunt, wasted looking face that makes even Keith Richards look good on his worst days. I won’t even address the current sorry state of my ass.

The above quote may remind some of you of a line from Star Wars spoken by Yoda. The Yoda version also goes something like this just with more dramatic punctuation: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” The Empire Strikes Back.

Supposedly Yoda lived to be 900 years old but the Buddha still has him beat by living at least several millennia prior so I am going with Buddha as the originator of this famous line. This I suppose could be a phrase comparable to the infamous “shit or get off the pot”. No hanging out on the throne reading the paper. For god-sakes focus and commit to the task at hand or not.

At first blush with this topic I thought I want to be a ‘doer’ rather than responding to the often-harsh command: don’t! Then it quickly occurred to me that there have been many “don’t-directives” in my life that I have to say have proved helpful. A few that come to mind are: don’t play in traffic, don’t own a gun, and don’t eat lead paint chips, don’t pick-up that snake or don’t sashay into a straight bar on Bronco Sunday afternoon and ask, what ya watchin’ fellas?  And the one that I saw recently on Facebook, “don’t come out of the bathroom smelling your fingers no matter how fragrant the hand soap was you just used.”

Perhaps I was overly primed to see the following based on today’s topic but in reading a nice long article on Larry Kramer in the NYT’s from last week I was particularly drawn to several quotes by Kramer using the word “don’t”.

I’ll get to the quotes in a bit but for those of you perhaps not familiar with Larry Kramer he first came on the national gay scene in a significant way with the publication of his prescient 1978 novel Faggots. The novel was a rather unflattering though brutally honest look at the wild sexual abandon of gay male life in the later half of the 1970’s.  Kramer as a result was persona non grata in the gay world but with the onset of the AIDS nightmare a few years later Faggots took on an air of prophecy.