I have reached a part of life where I’m glad to be around. I like people, and they generally like me. I don’t feel like a fraud. I pay my way. I try not to hurt others. I look for beauty, and where found, I encourage it.

I came out to my family, and then to the world. I got sober. I learned to love with more depth and less ego, came upon artistic purpose, and was surprised to discover something that resembled contentment taking root in my heart.

I try guarding the good of life, for the people who will be here after me. I want my history to say something to the timid, scared and lonely boys and girls who will miss knowing me by a century. I want my life’s work to include significant strains of courage, conviction and hope.

These endless mass shootings are a clear message to anyone with the decency to see it that the wrong policies are guiding us. It’s easy to despair. But we have to continue to guard the good. If we want the generations after us to be safer and wiser than we are, we have to hand them an existence that gives them a chance. We don’t want to be the ones who left them with paranoia, dread, and the belief that third graders being executed is all just a part of “life in America.”

Tonight, I will despair. Tomorrow, I will despair, and alongside that, I will rise up. This is my country, too. While I am here, I will uphold and protect all that is good in it. Feeling the good is the best reason to be here.

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