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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cynical eyes and expectations


Of the many memes going around the internet, this one stuck out in my head.
“Know the rules, so you may break them properly.” That little gem is attributed to the Dali llama.
The reason that saying is on my mind is that I might be about to break a rule that I set out a few weeks back.
We mistakenly try and measure our successes against our peers. Are we doing better than our cousins or neighbors? It used to be called 'keeping up with the Jones', and it's bullshit. 
Two years ago I went to a funeral. That wasn't the hard part. What I dreaded the most was seeing how well my cousins were doing in comparison to me. I felt I was barely scraping by, one mistake away from total ruin. Surely my family was going to pour salt in the wound about me being the low man out, the poorest family member. Here's what I discovered: One cousin had a really bad divorce. Another was basically squatting in a house, fixing it up in exchange for rent. A cousin younger than myself had lost all his teeth due to poor eating habits.
We keep comparing our bloopers with everyone else's highlight reels. Its not fair to ourselves to do that. Two songs from the group Styx come to mind. The first one is 'Grand Illusion'. The second one is 'Fooling yourself'.

Don't be fooled by the radio. The TV or the magazines.
They'll show you photographs
 of how your life should be,
When it's all someone else's fantasy.

My highlight reel would look something like this:
Wrote a book
Owns a house
Paid off a credit card
Has a healthy family
A strong marriage
Still in pretty good health.

My blooper reel would be something like this:
Just one step ahead of foreclosure
Dead end job
Half of my paycheck goes toward paying off creditors.
Frequently can't make ends meet.

If we get bogged down in the details, we can't see the progress we're making. Some of my friends, who I think have it all together are no better off than I am.

Which brings me to the second song I mentioned.

Get up!
Get back on your feet!
You're the one they can't beat,
and you know it.
Come on, let's see what you've got.
Just take your best shot and don't blow it.

Tommy Shaw knew what he was talking about when he wrote that.
My friend Nick, whom I envy a little, is a fantastic chef and is teaching a culinary arts program at a high school. He's shaping (warping) young minds in ways he can't begin to imagine, and I'm not talking about cooking. His outlook and attitude in how he treats others is going to have an impact on these kids. He may not remember them in 20 years, but they will remember him forever.
Now, Nick has a blooper reel, just like we all do. But we don't see it. Unless you are living in that person's skin, no one sees all the blemishes you make in life.
If Nick is reading this, I want to tell him I'm proud to be his friend. No matter how many times he gets knocked down by life, he always gets back up. Nick is brave, kind and thoughtful of others.
Now I can't mention one brother without saying something about the other.
I have referred to Robert Fedick and Nick Sandora as my brothers many times. I used their last names to illustrate a point. Although not related by blood, my bond with these two men runs very deep. If Nick was in trouble, I'd drop everything to be by his side. If someone were giving Bob grief, I'd help him dispose of the body.
I admire and at the same time, am in awe of Bob's ability to make computers do his bidding. Putting on the best poker face I've seen, Bob can be a rock in a very bad storm. Once in a while he'll let me know he has problems just like the rest of us normal folks do. Guess what? Everyone has the same problems and the same successes. If we let the problems run our lives, we can be miserable. Facing those same problems, they suddenly appear smaller. They are the bullies we've all faced in one way or another while growing up. And just like all bullies, they can't stand up to you when you face them.
Nick: Grab that problem that is pushing you around. Shake it until it's head comes off. Slap it around a bit if necessary.
Bob: Remind some jerkface that computers control the world... and you control the computers. I've long suspected you are a member of Anonymous. Time to put something 'colorful' on Westboro Baptist's homepage.
As for myself: I'm going to go get a publisher.       

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