Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Frame of Reference


I have been seeing this, or some just like it all over the web lately. The first time I saw it, it was motivational. "That's a good point," I thought. If this little kid can run with no legs, then I have no reason for not getting off my ass and accomplishing things in life. Then it started showing up more and more places. Then I saw it posted by people that I've known for years that are full of excuses and incomplete things in their lives. I realized that I've always given less than a shit about what they do with themselves and now, as they post this, I judge them for it.

So I started to think about this little kid. I'm sorry he lost his legs in whatever horrific event he was a part of. It's terrible that he is limited for the rest of his life. It is fantastic that he was born with the disposition and "never give up" attitude to overcome it as best he can and do it with a smile.

The truth of the matter is that using a child in a picture like this as a pawn to convince other people they are lazy, is hitting below the belt. Not everyone can endure the same level of stress. Not everyone can remain sunny after life knocks them down. And his problems are his own, my are my own and everyone else's problems are their own. What I'm trying to say is that while this kid has it worse than a lot of people and remains in smiles, it's comparing apples and oranges to expect the same out of everyone else.

That's where the title comes in. Frame of reference. You can only compare your problems to your life. He doesn't count. Lots of factors come into play. I tell people all the time that they cannot put their values on other people and judge them when they don't get the response they are looking for. People are people and they are all different.

I have my problems. I have problems that start in my feet, get real bad in my lower legs, affect my knees, thighs, hips and then lower back. And I stand and teach for 9 hours each day anyway. That's my life, that's my story. Nobody else can be measured against that. I can't run a half mile. But I have my legs. Should my excuse of my leg problems be invalidated because the kid above is running with NO legs? Not to be a complete dick, but I'm pretty sure he can't feel pain in either prostheses. I can certainly feel pain in the locations where those scoops would be. So my problems are my own, as are my excuses.

Some years ago, 1996ish, there was a big discrepancy about those types of prostheses in the Olympics and whether they should be allowed. The Olympic committed found, at the time, that they gave an unfair advantage to the athlete. They don't fatigue, for example. People got outraged. "How dare they say this young man has an advantage? He lost his legs." That's not what was being said. He has an advantage in the only circumstance the Olympic committee oversees - running. And being somewhat bionic, it makes sense. Frame of reference. The committee wasn't ruling that they couldn't participate because their life was better. Nobody would say that, and it's not their place.  But as a runner... a determination was made.

I guess the point is that there are many people, each with their own lives and each life has its own little caveats here and there. It is unfair to measure everyone with the same yard stick. If that's the case then put a picture of Temple Grandin and tell us our excuses are invalid. I bet most people don't even know who she is. She overcame. President Roosevelt sat behind the desk in the Oval Office with Polio. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs changed the world forever, both without college degrees. Everyone has the freedom to do whatever they want in life, but within the confines of their own situation and levels of comfortability and ability.

So get this kid out of my face. I'm not him. His problems are not my problems. I'm in my lane, running my race according to my own parameters and circumstances. I will measure myself against my aptitude and choices. I will not seek validation of my decisions or excuses by how well they stack up against this child.

One more thing. This kid is running a race and smiling in this photo. Do you think for one moment there have not been days that this kid has been cranky, ornery, and miserable at the world for no legs? Do you think he gets up EVERY day with his toothy smile ready to take on the world? So now you're not even judging people against people. You're judging people against 1/500 of a second of someone else's life.

You say my excuse is invalid. I say your argument is.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Be My Valentine

I fell asleep on the couch watching TV last night and woke up to The View. Let's be clear, putting this on was not a conscious decision. Naturally, everyone is talking about Valentine's Day. They were getting on the case of Whoopi and some other lady that I've never seen for not wearing red.

Then Barbara Walters chimed in and as if her voice wasn't grating enough, her words made me throw up a little bit, in between weeping for our future. She said she categorically disagrees with giving valentine's out in schools. As soon as she said it, I knew what was about to come next. Her reasoning was because some people give valentine's out to some other people, but not everyone and there may be someone who doesn't get one at all. That, according to Barbara is wrong and unfair.

What Miss Privileged seems to forget is that life is not fair? Not everyone gets a valentine. Not everyone wins the game. Not everyone gets a trophy. For some people, life just sucks. For some people, it sucks only until they learn to put in hard work. I am a perfect example of not knowing that life could suck and reacting very poorly when it did. I was given everything as a child. Not to the point of these no score soccer games, or everyone gets a valentine, but I was spoiled, let's face facts. Then I had to work for my money. I had no concept of the value of a dollar. I had no idea how hard life was. I thought I was getting the shit end of the stick. As it turns out, it's SUPPOSED to be hard. That's where the value shows up when you surmount these challenges.

I'm one person not indicative of my society and age group. Today's children have environments build around them that FORCE equality. I understand why 4-year old playing soccer don't keep score, they can't keep they eyes on the ball. However, this concept continues into the older children categories. Competition is healthy. It spurs people to do better, work harder, and achieve more. There's nothing wrong with losing, if you learn something from it.

So giving valentine's out to everyone furthers the theory that we are all equal and will always be treated as such, when only the first half is true. We will not all be treated equally. We will not all have the same opportunities. I am opposed to leveling the playing field for everyone in every situation. The world needs ditch diggers and engineers. Balance keeps it all going.

The whole thing was particularly shocking because I can't believe that someone supposedly so educated and cultured could miss the importance and psychology and developmental issues surrounding this topic.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

You'll be fine, I assure you

Big news in the entertainment industry. Someone we haven't heard from or thought about since the last time she was in trouble is now dead. That's right; Whitney Houston bought the farm today. I still haven't heard what the cause was. We know it wasn't the stress of a recently successful career though. Don't get me wrong, I feel bad she's dead. I don't wish death on anyone generally speaking. And I was never personally wrongs by Whitney. I was basically unaffected be her presence. That goes doubly in recent years. She's a non-entity in the lives of the average American. Once upon a time she made awesome music. Then she got her ass kicked by Bobby Brown and then she did a bunch of drugs. Somewhere along the line she fell in love with Kevin Costner, right?

The point is that it's ok to feel bad about it. It's ok to say it's a shame that she's dead. It's too bad she didn't put out more music in recent history. The turns her life took are lousy. But here's where you all lose me. You're surprised? It's a shock? Are you kidding me. I'm shocked that you're shocked. I'm shocked she made it this long. I'm not FOR her death, but I have to say... I kinda saw this one coming... like forever ago.

And here's the real trouble with the people on Facebook and Twitter. So many are heartbroken and crying. When was the last time she crossed your mind? 199x? Or when those pictures of her all fucked up on drugs surfaced? When was the last time you really sat and thought about her? And now you're all drying and miserable and wondering how to make it through the day. These are the same dopes that flung themselves against the gates of Neverland Ranch when poor little mutated Michael bit it.

She did drugs. She was an adult. I'm pretty sure by the time she started on the shit, she had heard, at least once, that they are bad for you. I didn't make her do them. I didn't sell them to her. I didn't do anything. Maybe all the people that bought her music are the ones to blame. YOU FUNDED HER HABIT - ENABLERS!

All I'm saying is that I get the human response that says, "that's too bad." What I don't get is the heart wrenched people who are posting emotionally charged status updates and are feeling touched by this. If you were a fan, you'd have been posting about her all along during her troubles. She's a trending topic just like the super bowl was last week. And in a week, nobody will mention her ever again.

Let's just not pretend your sitting at home trying to get over the death of Whitney Houston. That's ridiculous.