Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself… and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.
- Anthony Robbins
It’s been said that when one door closes another opens…and every now and again, I find out just how true that is. Like a lot of us, I have a disturbing habit of continuing to beat my head against the same wall; perhaps I’m thinking that if I keep at it long enough, the results will change. In the end, of course, all I’m left with is a splitting headache and a bleeding forehead. It takes some real courage to try and create something different, and not just because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results.
After having been put throwing some difficulties recently, I’ve been forced to discover that I’m much stronger and a good deal more resilient that I’ve given myself credit for. It’s been good to learn that I don’t have to be tied to something that just isn’t working. I’ve come to recognize, if not fully understand, that sometimes good people do really shitty things for poor reasons. I’ve also had to learn that this really has little, if anything to do with me. So, I took some risks, I tried a little too hard, and…guess what? I got kicked in the ass for it. The good news is that my ability to trust seems to have emerged from the wreckage relatively unscathed. Evidently, I’m not as fragile as I’d suspected I might be.
In the meantime, I’m rediscovering that I’m a pretty good person and I have a lot to offer. Self-esteem has never been my strong suit, so it’s been refreshing to force myself into social situations where I don’t know people and learn that people generally like me when they meet me. I know; that seems like it should be self-evident and not particularly revelatory, but for me it’s something I’m only just now beginning to see in myself…and so I continue channeling my inner Stuart Smalley.
There’s something to be said for stepping back and taking a good look at yourself. For one, it’s a chance to realize that how one person defines you is NOT the definition you must accept. People view you through the lens of their own prejudice and experience, which invariably have little to do with you. And we all know what opinions are like, right?
Sometimes, taking a step back really is the best way to enable yourself to take a couple steps forward….
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Coming home from the Kenny Chesney concert Saturday night, I had an experience that was both refreshing and disturbing. The walk from the Hollywood MAX station to my girlfriend’s house is about 3/4 of a mile, and since it was a warm summer night, I wasn’t too concerned. It was a nice evening for the walk, and I figured the late-night exercise couldn’t hurt.
As I was walking home, I came across a group of four young kids walking along NE 44th Avenue. While the group was about 50 yards in front of me, they split up. Three of the kids headed off in one direction, and a girl, who couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13, kept walking in the same direction I was heading. What concerned me was that it was 11.30pm and here was a young girl walking by herself in Laurelhurst, which is a relatively safe neighborhood, but still….
I kept walking and soon caught up with her and she stopped to ask me directions to Providence Hospital’s emergency room. My destination was about a block away from hers, so I offered to walk her there to make sure she got there safely. As I talked with Patience (yes, that’s apparently her real name), I kept wondering where her parents were.
As much as I wanted to be certain that Patience made it to her destination safely, I found myself struck by two competing thoughts:
Did her parents know where she was and what she was doing? It was 11.30pm, and here she was walking by herself in a neighborhood she clearly didn’t know. I couldn’t believe that a parent would let someone so vulnerable hop on a train late at night and the walk the 3/4 of a mile through an unfamiliar neighborhood to a hospital emergency room.
Here I was, alone on a street late at night with a girl who couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13. It felt as if I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on the expressway to a sex offender’s registry. What if, after I left her at her destination, she started making things up? Who’s going to believe me? That might seem fantastical and/or paranoid, but it’s the sort of thing men have to think about these days.
I don’t think I got within five feet of her during the 15 minutes or so we walked together. I wanted to be certain she got where she was going, but I was paranoid enough that I wasn’t about to tempt fate in any shape, manner, or form.
I never did find out the answer to the first question, but thankfully it would appear that the second was much ado about nothing. I walked her to the ER, bid her goodbye, and told her to be safe. As I made my way through the few additional steps home, I found myself pondering the ways in which current social mores and fears have made being an adult male a sometimes-tenuous proposition. The mere fact of being an adult male alone for any length of time with a girl who’s not your daughter can create a situation fraught with all sorts of potential problems.
As a society, we’ve become so attuned to child sexual abuse (and rightly so) that in some ways preventing that abuse has become something of a witch hunt. I was just trying to get home, and I had no intentions toward Patience or anyone else outside of that…and yet I found myself fearing being accused of something I would never dream of doing. Such is the state of the world we live in, I suppose; better hyper-vigilance than the opposite. Still, what if Patience had, for whatever reason, decided to accuse me of something untoward? That sort of accusation alone can be enough to destroy a career and/or a life. All I wanted was to do the right thing and ensure a vulnerable child arrived safely at her destination, and thankfully that was the end of the story.
How sad is it, though, when one has to fear the unforeseen consequences of trying to do the right thing?