About 4 years ago now I watched (relative to your own disposition) liberal hippie lunatic / super-genius Noam Chomsky give a little talk in Braden Auditorium. He had no shortage of unique ideas to throw at the people that came, but among them, he summed up more with one sentence than I think I’ve ever heard a sentence sum up with it’s summing.
“There is nothing in life more difficult than seeing yourself in the mirror.”
The list of meanings that one sentence can pile on is endless. Personally it applies to me in this moment a sense of how often we forget that we’re writing our lives own narratives.. and abuse that fundamental ability to think ourselves into a corner like a confused irobot that bumped into the cat. So at the start of another year, I’ve decided that I’m done doing that. I’m done pretending that I have any actual problems, down to even the smallest things that bother me, that there aren’t solutions for… most of them pretty simple (unless barring some sort of disease I don’t yet know about).
Even though I constantly forget, I’ve had this perspective since one particular moment I can remember when I was 16. After taking over my dad’s old van, I inherited an old Crown Victoria, like right out of the Blues Brothers. It was a fantastic 2.5 ton car which I got into far more car chases with than any car since.Unfortunately I only have a (kind of dated) picture of the van. Pretend it’s a car.. it will make the story better.
One day not long at all into driving that car, I learned that 2.5 tons of steel + original tires from when the car was first built 15 years earlier + rain meant that it could stop from 30 in about 100 yards. This information was not altogether useful to me though, because on this day, I learned that the car could also stop just as easily in about 20 yards should something get in the way. Something did.
I was fine.. I somehow drove home with the hood sticking straight up, showed my parents the completely crushed half of my car. My dad told me what I knew but didn’t want to hear- that it was totaled, and even though it was just a car.. I had been more than a little excited about all of this having a car business, and I was pretty upset.
I spent a couple hours locked up in my room before my dad came down, and explained to me he was pretty sure we could find all the parts it needed from a junkyard. I didn’t hesitate to point out the fact that he fixed appliances, not cars.. there’s no way we could reassemble the more important half of a Crown Victoria from random pieces. My dad then gave me the same sort of answer to that sort of question that he always has as long as I’ve known him.. which I had never taken seriously.
“I can fix anything”
Said in really a joking tone at the time. I’ve taken that mentality to heart ever since, because it wasn’t a few days later that we had everything in front of the car’s windshield in zip-lock bags with labels, half of which were mostly meaningless to us. About two weeks of work passed in the garage, and when we were done.. despite the piles of spare parts… the car ran even better than it did before. We even re-painted each of the new pieces with the same tacky two tone look that the car had to begin with.
I’ll end this cheesy sunscreen-song-esque rant by simply saying that same mentality has stuck with me ever since. Don’t think yourself into a corner and don’t be beat up by circumstance in 2009, and I won’t either.