9.02.2006

Good to the last drop

"All unhappiness and stagnation result from a feeling that you are at the mercy of the world and the people in it. But what a joy it is, what a major shift to strength and power when you no longer wait around for others to favor and love you, for others to flatter and reward you. Reward and flatter yourself, favor and love yourself..." -- Kira Salak, Writer and National Geographic Emerging Explorer

Inspiration comes from the strangest places. Even a disposable coffee cup.

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped at a Starbucks while running errands. Sitting in my car with the coffee -- venti skim latte, three Splendas and a couple dashes of cinnamon -- I read the above passage on the side of the cup.

Actually, to be fair, I read the first sentence, and thought, "Well, there's a microcosm of my life." It wasn't until later that I read the whole thing and the eyebrows went up.

Now, I'm not saying I had one of those moments like you may have had growing up when you discovered some undeniable fact for the first time in your life. Still, it was significant nonetheless.

For most of my life, it seems, I have wanted to be loved. I think, ultimately, that's what drives most of us, to be loved, and to a lesser degree, accepted. To be frank -- and when am I not -- there was not a lot of love in my house growing up. Both of my parents did everything they could to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table and clothes on our backs, and for that I will commend them to no end. We never lived on mashed potato sandwiches, and my sisters never had hand-me-downs, but things were not always rosy financially.

The material things were there. The emotional component, though, did not exist. There was no interest in what their kids did at school; there was one family vacation.

Perhaps it was the fact that my mother was almost 41 and my father 39 when I was born. It's kind of tough being in grade school still when your Mom is 50. Work always has, and to this day still, comes first. The way it was with me, anyway, was almost as if the world was a laboratory and I was allowed free reign to poke through it unsupervised. No denying it here, I used that "see no evil" mentality to my advantage many -- make that MANY -- times. Sometimes for good. Sometimes for bad.

Since I wasn't getting the necessary admiration from my family, I'd look to my friends for that. I'm not sure if that was fair or not, but I did so regardless. That wasn't there either. A lot of times when I was younger, I was popular only when I had access to great seats for the Mets, Jets, Knicks and Rangers through a family friend. When I didn't have the seats though, I was the really fat kid who was relentlessly picked on.

How did I deal with the taunts? I took them and internalized them. Years ago, that's what you did. These days, you end up with Columbine or Jonesboro, Ark., or an Indian reservation in northern Minnesota and everyone asking out loud "how could something like this happen?"

It is incredibly tough to go through life alone from an emotional standpoint. Since you're the chief, cook and bottle-washer in that regard, you are responsible for all facets of keeping your emotional well-being healthy, and it's never easy to know when you're doing something right and if it's wrong, it's often too late.

I have been called moody, bitter and aloof for a lot of different reasons. The sports newsroom I work in, many times, is more like a sports bar/talk radio set. When I go to work -- and, funny thing, it's actually to do work ... I like chatting about the news of the day and the back-and-forth banter, but I sense I an still considered the odd one. Truth is, I don't really fit in with my co-workers and when I try to make it work, I generally feel uncomfortable in doing so.

That having been said, I need to take a look at Kira Salak's words more closely and learn, once and for all, to take them to heart. "Reward and flatter yourself, favor and love yourself." It's been told to me that you learn to love and accept others once you learn to love and accept yourself.

For the longest time -- OK, my entire life -- I never really liked myself all that much. How do I change nearly 41 years of thinking?

What do you think? I'd really like to know.

1 comment:

kansas brat said...

Maybe you start believing your friends and what they tell you, eh?

You have cool friends. You must have some redeeming qualities for them to hang out with you. Even though I-- rather, they-- abuse you mightily... it is done with love.

So don't be mopey, and stay cool so we don't look bad. Kansas, out!