It’s not your fault, but it is your problem.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

– Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr, 1934

These words have woven themselves into popular culture, thanks in large part to their inclusion in the liturgy of Alcoholics Anonymous. The prayer wasn’t written for AA, but it fits so perfectly that it could have been.

A person dealing with addiction lives on the boundary between that which is innate and that which is personal choice. No one chooses to have the impulse, but there are thousands of choices any of us can make that stack the deck to influence whether that impulse is likely to win or lose. Continue reading

The dirty work of figuring yourself out.

“Like a castle in his corner in a medieval game, I foresee terrible trouble and I stay here just the same.” – Steely Dan, “Dirty Work”

Fact 1: Steely Dan is named after a sex toy.

Fact 2: That song is about a guy feeling used, and stuck, in a relationship where he’s the side dude. (Is “side dude” the male equivalent of “side chick?” I am not up with the permutations of today’s lingo, probably because I say shit like “permutations” and “lingo.”)

Fact 3: It’s an apt and poetic way to describe the feeling of knowing you’re doing wrong while standing in to witness the impending doom you’ve participated in creating. Continue reading

Cranberry juice for the soul; or, how to deal with people who annoy you.

I take it for granted that I have a relatively outgoing personality. I don’t really stop and consider that through a fortunate combination of DNA and upbringing, it doesn’t faze me to stand in front of people and talk. My grandparents and parents did a good job of holding me accountable for making eye contact, speaking at a volume that could be heard, enunciating, and giving firm handshakes. Continue reading

No, seriously, help yourself.

You probably tune out when the flight attendants do their choreographed safety dance about exit doors and oxygen masks. I do, too. As I recently heard a man at 7-Eleven say to his lady over the phone, “Listen, you tell him if he gone kill me, come kill me. I ain’t afraid to die. I don’t want to die, but I ain’t afraid to.” You and me both, sir. You and me both. Continue reading

Warning: This prescription may cause side effects.

I try really hard to maintain my positivity at all times. I believe – through years of serious experimentation and reflection on the subject – that we have a significant amount of choice in how we feel. To that end, I have learned that if I choose to remain positive, I find myself feeling happier.

A few days ago, I ran into a situation that made me stop and think about what has become an automatic for me. Continue reading

I’m a superhero.

What’s your superpower?

Everyone has one. I have many. For instance, when I was a kid I could tell the difference between first-run TV shows and reruns by the audio alone. That is a completely useless superpower, unless the fate of the world depends on whether this is a very special The Facts of Life, or if it’s just a regular one that you’ve already seen.

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They call me the working man.

Confession:  I quoted Rush in a paper I wrote in high school completely out of context, but just to do it.  It went something like this:  “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.  That has literally nothing to do with this paper, but I wanted to cite Rush in my bibliography because I’m a senior.”

That’s what you’re working with here, guys.  But on to actual points that are worth making (maybe):

I’m forever working on myself. I want to be better than I am. I also want to be more content with who I am. Yes, that’s right, one of the things I’m working on is not working on myself so damned much.

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I’m a total badass.

I used to be a badass.

I had swagger. I viewed myself as, quite possibly, the best damned thing that had ever happened.  The undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Of course, as is the case with anyone with swagger, I was insecure about my possible inadequacies. I had a low grade fever all the time: a fear that my inflated versions of my own reality would be punctured. The fever sapped my energy. The echoes of my own inner voices reverberated in my head on a constant loop until my ears were ringing.

Continue reading