Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Why Not Me?

New Orleans is drowning and I’m sitting here sipping coffee and puttering about on the Internet; my feet are dry, my lights are on, and I have nothing to worry about other than whether I should buy a Daily Racing Form so I can risk a few dollars playing the ponies online later today. People all over the Deep South are thankful just to be alive while I’m all pissed off because the video store is two weeks late repairing my DVD player.

So I wonder: what have I done or not done to deserve having it so easy while others—especially in the Big Easy—have it so hard? Could it be my ongoing commitment to cycle commuting? The fact that I don’t eat meat? Or is it my consistent willingness to separate all my trash into recycling, compost, and garbage?

The obvious answer is that it’s none of these and that I’m just naturally a better person than those millions of folks who’ve been displaced and destroyed by the storm. God or nature or Krishna or the space aliens have simply recognized my moral superiority apart from anything I do or don’t do and consequently have allowed me to stay warm and dry while visiting those scores of sinners down South with wrath from above.

Yeah, that’s it, I’m sure.

Seriously, how can there by any explanation whatsoever for my good fortune in light of the catastrophe experienced by others? How could anyone (other than a paranoid schizophrenic religious fanatic tripping his brains out on STP) imagine that I’ve done anything to warrant my experience? Or that others have done anything to deserve theirs? How could anyone possibly surmise that the universe is doling out rewards and punishments such that I hit the jackpot while my Southern brethren simply get hit?

All I can figure is that it’s simply a matter of pure chance, just dumb luck on my part with the emphasis on dumb.

Monday, August 29, 2005

All The Things I'm Not

I keep thinking that I ought to be someone else.

I shouldn’t have squandered my youthful potential trying to be Woody Allen (or was it Phyllis Diller?); I should have buckled down and gone to law school so that by now I’d be doing something more worthwhile with my life than writing essays no one will ever read or at least I’d be busy enough that I wouldn’t have time to worry that I wasn’t doing something of value to humanity and the world.

The problem is that I never really stuck with one thing; I always got bored or distracted and jumped to the next diversion before I’d let the original play itself out fully. For instance, if only I’d kept at standup comedy in the 1980s, I could be at least as famous as Carrot Top (and certainly far less annoying.) Or if I had stayed in the corporate training world in the 1990s, I’d probably have my own company by now (or at least a company car.) Heck, if only I’d held on to my paper route in the 1970s, I’d more than likely own a good part of the Pittsburgh Press (even if it has gone out of business).

The point is (if there is one) I’m not all I can be. (Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; I could be a quadriplegic after all, but it’s no great loss that I’m not.)

If only I wasn’t such a self-centered neurotic I could probably make a positive difference in the world, but that, of course, would require that me to direct my attention to a cause outside my own little life, a step that would represent a rejection of the one thing that has been consistent in my behavior after all these years: being a self-centered neurotic.

With that in mind, therefore, it seems I couldn’t be someone else; and if “ought implies can,” then I’m off the hook morally, too. Whew!