This is actually the third piece I have written this week. I'd didn't like the other two.
Each week I consume a couple hundred articles, about 75 blogs, and I usually have a book or two on the side. Mostly what I read online is the same regurgitated crap.
What I truly yearn for is something original. I am so tired of reading the same old schtick, week in- week out. And I figure if I'm tired of the same old schtick- maybe you are too.
This week I began reading a book called "Daring Greatly." I wasn't even 25 pages in and I realized this author had something original to say. Among all of the interesting speculation she offered regarding the growing narcissism in this country, the author mentioned "the shame based fear of being ordinary."
That phrase stopped me dead in my tracks. Like a time machine it took me back to 2008.
Imagine for a moment that you are living in a culture which measures your usefulness as a human being based primarily on how much wealth you can accumulate. That's how we measure your worth. Oh sure, credentials and a little power and prestige certainly help. But the way we measure self worth in America is done with money. That's how we keep score.
Your parents, your relatives and friends, and your adversaries will all measure and judge you the same way. You'll return the favor because you've been taught the same rules.
So what happens to those millions upon millions of people who never measure up to the expectations of their family, friends, and culture or worse yet- fail to live up to their very own expectations?
Do those people who see themselves as failures- do they ever get right? Do they ever get happy?
Yes, I think it's possible given the right set of circumstances.
In 2008 I met a man with two degrees, one a masters degree in engineering. He was a tree trimmer in New Orleans. The night I met him he said he had a promising future behind him. He was no longer bound by the shame of being ordinary. In fact, he loved being ordinary. But in order to celebrate and love being ordinary, he had to set aside all of the faulty beliefs that had been instilled in him- seemingly from birth. That is a whole lot of cultural programming and guilt to shit can. Not a small job.
Then you must set about the task of doing whatever makes you happy and ignoring what others might think of that. Indeed, what others think of you is none of your business anyway.
Years ago when I became a cop, I had all the right reasons. I wanted to help people. I discovered some interesting stuff. Nobody seemed to care. When you worked your ass off, or nearly got killed- nobody cared. Years later when I became the Chief, I saved every dime I could- often returning at least 6 figures back to the city every fiscal year. Nobody cares. In fact, other chiefs and department heads spent every last penny, every year. We all got treated the same. Burn through what they give you- they'll give you more tax money next year.
So doing the right thing within a completely apathetic society is probably over rated. I am going to tell you right now that I know some of those old department heads and they are retired now. They do not sit around and feel guilty for having spent every penny they were authorized to spend.
The point being is that you are the only one responsible for your happiness. You can only do those things which make you happy. You are an idiot to think that anyone else is responsible for your happiness or that others must rely on your for their happiness. That is simply foolish.
Having learned all of those things in the school of hard knocks- meant I no longer had to commit to a body of work wherein nobody really cares how you perform as long as it is simply adequate. Having recognized that harsh reality- I was able to focus on my own happiness rather than trying (and failing) to make others happy. That is the lesson of 25 years of intimate law enforcement.
Today, being ordinary feels pretty damn good. I don't secretly covet others and their possessions. I don't keep score that way. I am not interested in a bigger, nicer car. I like my little bungalow and my Harley. I enjoy my ordinary every day life, my afternoon naps, and the ability to do whatever pleases me without someone demanding that I do more and instilling a little guilt in me.
You know what's different today? Instead of forever wanting, I am grateful for what I have. I simply don't use the old cultural scoring system anymore. It never liked it anyway.
I'm anxious to get back to this book.The next section is about fear and scarcity and how we convince ourselves into thinking we never have enough. Does that sound familiar? "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown, ISBN 978-1-592-40733-0.