THINKING ABOUT WHAT MATTERS

WHEN JUST DO IT FAILS   Those who know me know that I rant a bit against the Just Do It Guru’s.  A good motto for the lucky, the talented, and those with resources to nurture their talents; but isolation, blame created shame the main reward for those not so lucky.  Many will not want to read this book.  I’ve ordered it.

Henry’s Demons by Patrick Cockburn and Henry Cockburn – Review – NYTimes.com.

Here is a quote from the review.  At least read that:

“Henry’s Demons” is about how Henry Coclburn, in 2002, at the age of 20 received a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  He was enrolled at the University of Brighton at the time.  Tress began to talking to him; he leapt naked  into frozen lakes; he soiled his pants on a regular basis; he ate raw garlic; his hair became batted into a single mephitic dreadlock;  he roamed the woods,  his crotch becoming infested with insects; he became to resemble Jesus or a caveman.  He would be in and out of mental instituions, all across England, for nearly the next decade.  The charming young man  his family had known was largely gone.

There is no happy ending for Henry.  His is a life wasted for the most part and the triumph is that his family continued to love and do what they could to sustain him.

I love reality shows but not necessarily the auditions.  I find them too often painful and the pain fuel’s my rants against “Be Happy” and “Just Do it” gurus.  When I watch such auditions,  I see there are those without talent and their families thinking because they want the dream of stardom, it will be.   My youngest son wanted with all his heart to be Keith Hernandez, star first basemen for the New York Mets.   This son was not made for baseball;  we knew that, but he was insistent and so we supported his Little League efforts.  When he was twelve he realized “There are maybe six hundred professional baseball players, no matter how hard I practice, I’m not going to be one. ”  He was angry with us for “Pushing him.”   We didn’t.  More comforting to be angry at us, then himself.   For many years the hurt he felt meant giving up totally on baseball.  He wouldn’t watch or go to Met’s games for years.  He survived and in time found his sport in snow boarding, but a sport he does for love, not to meet dreams of glory.

Compared to Henry’s life, my son’s hurt was a mosquito bite, he might say   five or six such bites.  Sadly, Henry was bitten by a deadly viper–no amount of visioning, believing would let him live a normal life let alone become a star.  Telling his family or Henry to “Be Happy” or “Just Do It”  would only add more venom to the poison taking over their lives.

One other example:  Oprah, whom I love and admire, repeatedly claimed at one point “If I can do it, anyone can.”   I think she is changing her thoughts about that.  Very clearly one of the things she wants is a thinner body.  She has gotten there repeatedly and then regained despite having all the money needed to hire the best trainers, chefs, and coaches.   I think she has stopped torturing herself to be what she is not.  I hope so and do know that I haven’t heard her say recently “If I did it you can.”   Sadly, far to many others  continue to  suggest will power and visioning  conquers all.

We should continue encouraging dreams, but for the pleasure of pursuit, not fame.  We should also emphasize the one dream within almost everyone’s reach.    Not everyone can be a star athelete, dancer, actor, writer, whatever.  Everyone, with very few exceptions–broken brains can also destroy this capacity–can practice kindness.  Think of how much better our world would be if there were Olympic metals for caring, Phi Beta Kappa keys for making the world more just, more caring, Nobel Prizes for those who live quiet lives of caring.   Such a shift in values would be the surest path to peace on earth.

Stay strong, keep caring, practice kindness, enjoy the pursuit of your dreams not distant hopes of glory.

Agree or disagree, comments are always welcomed.

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