23 June, 2008

Who's a clever boy?

If I’m honest, I’ve lived a lot of my life filled with self loathing. Some of it deserved, probably a lot of it not; but I can’t change the past. One of the defensive mechanisms my psyche came up with when I wasn’t looking was a fair amount of hubris.
I am not a believer in false modesty; I figure that is just as big a sin against Minerva as arrogance. That being said, I still have a hard time accepting compliments about things I feel I didn’t earn.
I mean, if I have been putting in the hours at the gym and get told I have a nice ass, I can take it. I earned it with my own sweat. If someone compliments me on good grades or a well cooked meal, I can revel in it. Indeed, like a puppy, you will likely see me shiver with pleasure that someone has noticed what a good boy I have been.
I’ll try not to pee on the floor in my excitement, so don’t get your hopes up, you fans of R. Kelley. You know to whom I am speaking…
But I’ve never liked getting credit where I felt it wasn’t due. Even as a platoon sergeant it was much easier for me to take responsibility for the errors of my platoon than to accept accolades for their accomplishments. It was my team, true, but I jut trained them; they were the ones who performed.
I think it is because I always was wary of this narcissistic side that had developed to counteract my self-loathing. It is odd, because from the outside I sometimes may appear humble, and it likely is a result of me feeling the most cocky.
I think it is also a reaction to the transient property of praise. One ‘oh shit’ destroys a hundred ‘atta-boy’s. I don’t want undeserved praise, because I know eventually undeserved criticism is likely to follow, and it does more damage to me. I’m a sensitive guy underneath all my armor.
Still, I can admit that I wield my limited intelligence with a fair amount of skill. I pride myself in finding clever little hacks to my simple life’s little obstacles. It is all I have, any more. Once maybe my ability to think outside the box might have saved lives or made a difference in the welfare of my soldiers. Now it just shaves a few seconds off my chores.
But as I get older, those seconds become more precious. Sometimes I look back and wonder if I have wasted much of my life. I wonder what ripples I have created that have positively impacted the lives of others. I can’t see any, really, and Clarence isn’t around to show me. But that doesn’t fill me with despair as much as it fills me with resolve to make the most of the next half of my life.
There’s always time to change the road you’re on.
So.  I was practicing my chord changing and having trouble remembering all of them (I am up to eight) and I didn’t like having to stop my rhythm to turn the pages when I happened upon an idea. I downloaded pictures of the chords and made a slide show that automatically advanced every 10 seconds to prompt me. It made me happy. I like ideas, even if they are small and meaningless in light of the worlds problems. It made me happy and I decided that, for today, that is all I needed.
AND I made the best chili (with an I) EVER today. I am a culinary genius!

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