High School Graduation

I spent a weekend about a month ago going to a couple of high school graduation receptions.  Man, I can remember back to my high school graduation.  Remember those days… when you still partially believed that life was fair and you could accomplish any goal?  You were going places and had a lot of success in front of you?  Then, life smacked you upside the head and — POW— life not only is not even close to being fair… it spends a large portion of time stinking.

Once we realize that success seems to only be for someone else, and then we start justifying crap to ourselves to make it seem like we found some measure of success… you know… “I have a great family, therefore I am successful”… “I get to go to work every day, and there isn’t much more to success than that”… “I don’t live in a trailer house, so I must be successful”… “I can put food on the table for my family and my kids love me; success, success, success!”  I’m not saying that these things are bad; I’m just saying that these things are not a measure of success.  These things are a measure of not being complete and utter trailer trash… which is the antithesis of success.

Success is a measure of worth.  Worth is a value that you place on yourself and that others place on you.  For example, people living in trailers (or low-income housing, or where ever) who feed their family exclusively with food stamps and don’t have job because, well, they can make more living off of the tax money paid in by people who actually work for a living, and a job may interfere with their addictions to medicaid-funded painkillers and Budweiser…  I see these people as having very little worth.  These people, however, may see themselves as having a lot of worth.  Therefore, they are delusional.  No… they have a feeling of self-worth but no actual worth, because they do nothing of value to society.  When your feeling of self-worth and society’s value of your worth are both in the positive… Ta-Da… SUCCESS!  It really isn’t hard to find something to do that society values.  Society values a good Big Mac… and somebody has to flip it.  Society values having trash collected and removed from houses once a week… and someone has to remove it.  The problem is, as individuals, can we find a measure of self-worth in doing these “lowly” jobs?  Maybe if these “lowly” paid paid more…

Our society is so majorly screwed up.  I know this is going off on a tangent, but why aren’t the jobs that create the most value to society the ones that generate the largest income?  Alex Rodriguez is a great baseball player.  In other words, he is really good at playing a game.  He makes millions of dollars a year.  If A-Rod died tomorrow (and I am not wishing this on him by any stretch of the imagination), how would our society really be any worse off then it is today?  In fact, if baseball completely disappeared off the face of the earth, other than lost marketing revenue and maybe a few people who make a living manufacturing baseball bats and stuff losing their jobs, society really wouldn’t be too severely hurt.

Now, let’s consider a garbage collector.  These noble steeds who drive the big trucks around and take away all the stinky stuff you no longer want probably make around $30,000 to $40,ooo per year.  Imagine if these people suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth.  How much more would society suck without these guys collecting your crap.  There would be a dramatic increase in the suck-o-tude of society without garbage collectors… yet they make only a small fraction of what a baseball player makes.

“Supply and demand” you may scream.  “Anyone can be trained to collect garbage, but not everyone can hit like A-Rod!”

Right… not everyone can be trained to play a little kids game and be really good at it.  If baseball never were, A-Rod would most likely be a lumberjack (one of the few “real world” places where the ability to “swing” has a payout).  Anyway, it is hard to find the self-worth in your job when society deems you be paid only a small, small fraction of what someone who plays games for a living (or, in the case of an actor, pretends to be someone else and looks pretty while doing it) makes.

Okay, tangent over, back to high school graduation.  High school graduates are people to be emulated.  They are cocky and full of life.  They are ready to succeed.  They are, for the most part, full of delusions and will be bitterly disappointed with what life actually offers them, but they see the glass as half-full as opposed to half-empty.  Me, I see the glass as not full.  I don’t give a rat’s patootie if the stinking glass is half-empty or half-full… the glass is less than full and that sucks.  I want a full glass, but a full glass is reserved for those who either were blessed with the ability to play games with an extreme amount of athleticism, people who are unnaturally pretty, people who are so full of self-confidence that they make the rest of us sick to our stomachs, and politicians.  Working hard doesn’t cut it.  Working smart doesn’t cut it.  You have to work both hard and smart (and being pretty or tall doesn’t hurt) to succeed… and doing both at the same time gives me a headache.  I don’t like headaches, therefore, I am not successful.

To all of the recent high school graduates out there who are reading this blog (seriously, there might be one!), keep your head high and keep dreaming of success.  If you give up now, you are utterly screwed.  If you remain positive… well… there is a chance you won’t be disappointed.

For the rest of us who are not recent high school graduates: if you haven’t found success yet, you probably never will.  If success isn’t important to you, I’m sure you have a special spot in heaven with your name on it.  If success is relatively important to you and you haven’t found it in your many years following high school… welcome to the happy stinking joy that is your life 🙂  It could be worse; you could be living in a trailer.  If you are living in a trailer and have no future hope of getting out of that trailer as you improve your circumstances, QUIT USURPING MY TAX MONEY!!!

Man, I miss high school…

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Tickle Me…

Last night, during the commencing of the bedtime rituals for my youngest son, we shared the nightly scratching of the backs.  This means my little guy said, “Dad, can you lie down with me for a little bit?”

And I said, “You know what would keep me here?” to which he giggles and starts scratching my back.

This ritual happens almost every night.  He will scratch my back for awhile, and I end having to scratch his back for at least twice as long as he scratched mine.   We do this like two or three times every week because… well… I love having my back scratched and so does he 🙂

Last night, after he finished scratching the same five square-inches of my back for about 30 seconds, I began scratching his back all over, as I always do.  As always, as I moved to the sides of his back, he wiggles around and giggles,  “Quit ticklin.”   Of course, I don’t stop.  I continually tease him with the occasional tickle for a good four or five minutes.  He loves it.  Tonight, however, the tickles raised a question.

“How come you aren’t ticklish?”

I don’t know quite how to answer this.  The youngest son, although he usually concentrates on a specific, limited portion of skin on my back for his scratching, has moved around the sides and underarm areas in an attempt to get a tickle-response out of his old man.  I can think of no time that he has actually evoked the tickle-response.  In fact, I can’t remember actually being ticklish since I was in high school.

“I guess I outgrew it,” I said to the boy.

He looks at me with those soft brown eyes that are always just wet enough to keep you guessing as to whether he is about to burst in to tears or burst into laughter, and he says, “That’s too bad.”

That’s too bad.

And it kind of hits me; that really is too bad.  Since when did I not want to be ticklish?  What part of growing up dictates that I can no longer be forced into uncontrollable bouts of laughter by someone brushing their fingers across my skin?  What part of the aging process forces the skin to be not so easily moved to silliness by another person’s touch?

A part of my youth is gone… has been gone for an extremely long period of time… and I will never get that back.  Neither of my sons nor my wife will be able to ever sink their fingers gently into my ribs to evoke a giggling response.  I think I miss that.

Being tickled too much can be, at the least, annoying, and ,at the most, downright painful.  Being tickled ‘just right’ is a fun way to connect with another human being.  Even when someone is completely down in the dumps, applying slight pressure to the side of the rib area and wiggling the fingers to and fro usually can, at the very least, generate a smile 🙂  The fact that I will never experience this again kind of hit me last night.

That’s too bad.

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