September 25, 2007

Perspective

I had a shitty day yesterday. I knew it was going to be a shitty day when, just moments after posting yesterday morning, I set the alarm system off on my way out then locked myself out of the house. Other than that, nothing catastrophic happened. Just a string of mildly crappy moments which, strung together, made a pretty unpleasant day. And I felt like shit. The mysterious crud that's going around hit me. I realized it when I was talking and couldn't hear myself. So, that sucks.

Yet, it's not terrible.

As I was walking through D.C. to the garage in which I park everyday when I'm in Monkeytown, several fellow pedestrians and I were waiting on a street corner for a light to change. One stepped off the corner, an oncoming car headed straight for him. I wasn't immediately hip to what was going on but luckily one of the others noticed...and spoke up.

Her: Hold on! The light hasn't changed.
Him: I couldn't tell.
Her: The left-hand turn signal was on.
Him: I just figured someone had run the light.
Her: I'll give you the all-clear.

The man was, of course, blind. Had someone not said something, who knows what would have happened. But luckily, someone did.

It put my day in perspective.

I could be blind. I could start every day, take every step, with the uncertainty that comes with the inability to see. Worse, I could have been born in Iraq or Afghanistan or one of the nameless, faceless countries in which poverty is the rule and happiness is an exception. But I wasn't. I was born with the ability to see, to hear, to learn. And I was born in a country in which opportunities to grow physically and mentally were available to me. I have a beautiful wife, the best daughter in the world, a good job with decent pay and, in general - despite the days that just plain blow a donkey - I'm pretty darn happy.

Apologies for the long rambling thoughts. I've got to head back to Monkeytown and I'm not exactly looking forward to it. But what helps is the knowledge that I'm not in it alone, that there are folks to warn me about oncoming traffic.

On a side note, I'm reading a book that also lends a certain amount of perspective to life (The World Without Us). It begs some interesting questions. I've personalized one of those questions - what one thing or accomplishment would you like to see outlast you? And hey, as great an answer as your children are, let's call that a given.

Posted by Chris at September 25, 2007 6:20 AM
Comments

Sorry you had a shitty day. And why is it "Monkeytown"?

"Man's Search for Meaning" is another great book for putting things in perspective.

The people I truly envy are the ones weaving in between the traffic on their motorcycles and mopeds (that is, until they get emphysema or some other chronic lung disease from breathing the fumes). But for those few moments that they can sneak through the traffic? You can't not envy them. :)

Posted by: sunchaser at September 25, 2007 8:16 AM

I don't have children, so I will say my photographs and my kindness to others.

Hope today is better and that you are on the mend.

Posted by: Maria at September 25, 2007 8:42 AM

Once upon a time I did stained glass all the time and I loved it and it is beautiful. I hope it outlives me.

Posted by: Arwen at September 25, 2007 9:15 AM

Tough question, as always. Must you continue these mind-benders so early in the morning?

I do some community theater, and after every show there is great pomp about putting up the playbill on the wall. Every playbill from every play performed there is on the wall, and they've done five shows a year for 75 years now. My name is up there about 20 times, and my picture in a place or two as well. That will outlive me, and I kind of like that.

Unless of course the place burns down. In which case, it will be the toxic waste dump I'm starting on the side of my house, which my husband delicately refers to as his "wood pile."

Posted by: Candy at September 25, 2007 9:38 AM

I'm a couple years into biotech research...sort of wetting the whistle for the PhD. I'm tangentially involved in cancer research at the moment, but if I end up at a certain school in a certain state where you currently live, I'll be doing AIDS research. Cures may not be in the future, but research itself is very rewarding for those who can keep their egos and rampant ambition in check.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at September 25, 2007 10:17 AM

I know it sounds corny but if I can just leave the world a little better than I found it I'll be content.

A tougher job than it sounds these days. But since I'm doing cliches this morning, here's another.

"Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Do not allow evil to triumph. Do not do sit by and do nothing."

I don't do much but I do something.

Posted by: ann adams at September 25, 2007 10:40 AM

Since the kids are a given, I'd like to hope I've change the lives (for the better) of some animals that otherwise would have been killed.

On the blind thing. When I was in H.S. (yeah, when the dinos roamed) they had a project where one of us went to the center for the blind and learned some things about how to get along blind, then spent the day...blind. I was the lucky person. Part of the day I was actually turned loose in the biggest city in the state. Downtown. I took slight comfort in knowing my "handler" was about a half a block away watching me, but all in all, I was alone. It was the most terrifying feeling I've ever had. I swore if I ever was blinded for any reason I would try to get a guide dog. At least I think some of the lonliness would be helped. Well, I mean, if I were standing on a street talking to myself I could claim I was talking to the dog...not just standing there freaking out.

It seriously was a life-changing experience.

Posted by: sue at September 25, 2007 11:18 AM

Whenever I stop to help someone with say, a flat tire, or anything...if they offer to try and pay me, I say no, just pass it on. Or if someone helps me in someway (particularly strangers) if I offer them compensation for their time/effort and they will not take it, then I always tell them that I will pass on their kindness to someone else.

I like to think that there might be little chains of kindness being passed down through the years, that I started.

Posted by: Leilani at September 25, 2007 11:23 AM

While I'm sorry you had a shitty day yesterday, it helps to know that I wasn't alone in my shitty dayness. I fell down walking 300 miles to the bus stop because we? decided it'd be a good idea to move out into the middle of NOWHERE, which works really well until your car dies in town about 7 miles away. I have a leg covered in bruises and as I'm discovering this morning, a pretty sore left arm, which took the brunt of the fall second only to my poor leg.

Plus, I still don't have my freaking car. Sigh.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at September 25, 2007 11:26 AM

Sorry about the crappy day. As for the answer to your question, I guess it would be some of the stuff I've written, and hopefully these contributions will make people like me (freaks, I guess) realize that they aren't alone. :)

Posted by: Dawn at September 25, 2007 11:56 AM

Going to see my brother this weekend was a sure-fire wake up call for me. I returned home grateful even though it broke my heart a little.

I would have to think long and hard about your question but top of mind would be; if my book gets published then I would like that to last. Its a good story worth reading and I hope that someone get a little inspiration from it.

Posted by: Chantel at September 25, 2007 1:04 PM

I'm not going to leave any big physical evidence behind, because so many of my thoughts are electronic or passed on verbally... but the lasting effect I want to pass on is knowledge. Teaching a friend how to hit a better golf shot, stop a certain puck shot, work on a web site, use a computer, whatever... I like sharing my learned lessons and hope that it rubs off on as many people as possible.

I guess I don't know what more I'd like to leave behind. Just a bit more goodness than would have existed if I were not born.

Posted by: Brad at September 25, 2007 1:15 PM

This might sound cheesy as hell, but I hope my relationships with my friends -- and the advice I've given them/things they've learned from me -- live on, whether in them or the people they know.

Posted by: sandra at September 25, 2007 3:07 PM

I think about this a lot, because obviously, my kids mean the freakin' world to me, and they are my legacy... BUT...

In my family, we are really making a concerted effort to do good for the planet, meaning not only are Hubby and I taking the initiative to conserve energy and recycle, we're getting the kids involved too. I am hoping that this becomes a habit that they pass on to their friends, to their kids, and to people they encounter. I really hope we can lessen the negative effects of all the stuff we do to the planet by changing our habits.

But, I'm a tree hugger like that.

Posted by: Sarah at September 25, 2007 3:32 PM

I think about this a lot, because obviously, my kids mean the freakin' world to me, and they are my legacy... BUT...

In my family, we are really making a concerted effort to do good for the planet, meaning not only are Hubby and I taking the initiative to conserve energy and recycle, we're getting the kids involved too. I am hoping that this becomes a habit that they pass on to their friends, to their kids, and to people they encounter. I really hope we can lessen the negative effects of all the stuff we do to the planet by changing our habits.

But, I'm a tree hugger like that.

Posted by: Sarah at September 25, 2007 3:32 PM

I think about this a lot, because obviously, my kids mean the freakin' world to me, and they are my legacy... BUT...

In my family, we are really making a concerted effort to do good for the planet, meaning not only are Hubby and I taking the initiative to conserve energy and recycle, we're getting the kids involved too. I am hoping that this becomes a habit that they pass on to their friends, to their kids, and to people they encounter. I really hope we can lessen the negative effects of all the stuff we do to the planet by changing our habits.

But, I'm a tree hugger like that.

Posted by: Sarah at September 25, 2007 3:33 PM

You are officially My Friend. I have decided and it will be so.

Sorry you have The Crud. I'm warning you, mine started off as a week of feeling sort of icky, which then morphed into INSANE Illness that required antibiotics and four straight days of sleep.

Be prepared, sicky.

Posted by: GreenCanary at September 25, 2007 5:28 PM

ack - apologies for the triplicate comment. DUH.

Posted by: sarah at September 25, 2007 9:27 PM

Great post. Hope things are better today--hump day!

My husband is reading that book as well and loves it. I may tackle it next. If I can stay awake long enough to even OPEN a book, let alone read and comprehend it.

Posted by: samantha jo campen at September 26, 2007 1:42 PM

Good food for thought...

The Husband was 2 hours late one day last week because he met a man, newly blind (now THAT's gotta suck), who was abandoned by the MBTA's (Boston's Met) special transport for the handicapped. He was left standing in one of the busiest intersections in the city all alone. Husband rode with him across town to bring him to his wife's place of business but by then they were both in a panick because their school aged kids had come home to an empty house.

Husband tried to apologize for being late but I wouldn't have married a guy who'd leave a bland man alone and lost.

Posted by: Kara @ Fear and Loathing in Stepford at September 26, 2007 8:18 PM

We'll call it kismet that I read this question of yours today, after mentioning to my husband last night about the mark I hope to leave. I'm embarking on a big project at work, something that will truly change how things are done and the success our students attain, and I commented: "In all my years at Happy High School, if I leave nothing I will have left this!" And that is everything.

Posted by: Kate at September 27, 2007 2:08 PM

I'm reading the same book! I can't tell yet if it makes me feel better about the state our planet is in our worse. Regardless, I've come to realize that humans pretty much suck. We're like lice on the planet.

Posted by: Tink at September 27, 2007 5:31 PM


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