IMHO

We all have opinions. It’s like some social contract or evolutionary entitlement. We can’t all be right all of the time, and even facts are not so easy to identify (http://www.politifact.com/). But opinions are everywhere, and you can’t always tell them apart from fact. In the US legal system, lawyers will call you out on whether your statement can be backed up, and your opinion may not be of any value. But in the rest of the world, especially in the media, opinions matter. Some “news” programs are based solely on opinion. And everywhere on the internet people are shouting their opinions so loudly that you can’t ignore them.

I, too, have opinions, and one such opinion is that anyone who says “in my humble opinion” (IMHO) is lying. Who in the world has any degree of humility when expressing their opinion?! How can it be a humble statement when it comes from a place of self-service and usually conceit? I express my opinions with glaring audacity and gall. If my thoughts were humble, I wouldn’t be able to voice them. Now you might be asking, “can’t you have varying degrees of humility?” Sure. But not where the threshold is so easily breached so that even at the point where humility and egoism collide, there is no holding back that opinion. In my humble declaration of truth? Is that a thing, too?

No. Opinions are bold. They should be. Like this one. Should we say what we mean only some of the time? I find it refreshing these days when someone speaks their mind. I suppose it’s a sign that I’m getting older, because I’m just so tired of the crap I hear from people, and I’m tired of the rest of us buying into it. The media will tell you that you are not safe. Then they will go to an ad selling home security systems or “personal” protection, as if they’re not totally in bed together. It’s a perfect match, actually. The tobacco industry would be well served to invest in anxiety-inducing subliminal ads. My point is there is very little truth out there. I mean, there are facts in books and charts and so on. But I’m talking about truth. Like the truth that life is short, and we don’t have time for meaningless crap. Or the truth that greed and jealousy are ingrained into the human psyche, and we are a million years of evolution away from overcoming them.

Truth is actually kind of relative. Some of us only see the truth we want to see. Like that our food is safe or that cops are here to protect and serve. Most of our food is safe and won’t kill you, and some cops are psychopaths. Interestingly, the top three professions among psychopaths are CEO’s, lawyers, and those in the media, according to Time.com (it should be noted this is an opinion piece). But the fact is that that studies have shown about 1% of the population can be considered psychopaths. That’s not a truth. It’s not even a fact. That’s something different. It’s a statistic. And I’ll write later about those wild creatures.

Next time I offer my opinion, which will be at least the next time I post in this blog, I will be sure to express myself in bold terms, not holding back. You see, if you give me your opinion, I expect that you feel that you are right. Humility has no place in this. Express yourself or do not. There is no try.

That’s my 2 cents. I bet that saying comes from the idea that everyone’s got an opinion, and no one asked, so there’s a huge imbalance between supply and demand. Well, shouldn’t we expect more? I mean, why say anything if it’s not going to matter? No. Make yourself heard.

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An Evening with T. S. Eliot – Warning: Profanities Ahead

We have two cats, and as anyone who has cats will tell you, dogs have masters; cats have staff. As subordinates, we exist only to do their bidding, which mainly consists of petting them – only when it suits them – and feeding them. That latter part is where things get interesting, for you see, cats are picky little shits.

The big Siamese specimen, weighing in at a whopping 9.5 kilos (think a large sack of potatoes), is well fed. He’s actually somewhat nonchalant about regular feedings, and as I remind him often, he could skip a meal. The other one is the boss, and she announces her demands with a certain nagging overtone. It’s like music. Death metal music. I imagine when she’s yelling at the top of her tiny lungs to get our attention and get the fuck off our butts and feed her, she’s really losing her mind like a meth addict.

On any given night in our otherwise quiet home, around the time we have dinner, our landlords start with the meowing and crying and knocking over furniture ( in the case of the gigantic one). The cacophony is jarring and really gets under your skin. I imagine the Boss is in the kitchen yelling, “for the love of God, people! Come over here and FEED ME! YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!!”

Something like that. She’s really sweet otherwise. It’s like living with someone who has a mild to moderate degree of psychosis, coupled with acute anxiety and a drug problem. I plan on taking on these characteristics when I get really old. I’m probably going to say wildly inappropriate things to Jamaican nurses, and I’ll shit my pants and smile. I’m entitled to this.

Well, the cat-monsters are fed now, and they’re uncharacteristically silent, aside from the sounds of lapping up the remnants of the good soft food from their bowls. They like the dry food well enough, but they FUCKING LOVE THE SOFT FOOD! HOLY SHIT!!

It’s cool. I’m the same way with cheese fries.

Default Settings

I am quite fortunate. I mean, I really am one of the lucky ones, as people have reminded me. When somebody tells you how lucky you are, they are usually looking at your enviable position in the world, where you might have avoided certain inconveniences or outright annoyances, been afforded a life of privilege, maybe even some happiness. So many people live in misery; some are completely tormented by pain, physical and emotional. For many, the idea of having just one day without pain would be like winning the lottery. And here I am without pain. I don’t get headaches, and I don’t have arthritis or any joint pain. And it’s great. But I do have one area of my life that has tormented me.

 

Sometimes we can't help what we are
Sometimes we can’t help what we are.

Ever since I was a kid I have had this unreasonable empathy for the afflicted and the bullied. Ah. There it is. Yes, I was bullied. Quite horribly, actually. It took me a long time, but I found ways of redirecting my anger. Then, when I met my wife, and I heard about what she’d gone through, and the things her father had done to her, that anger found an outlet.

At first, she would tell me about growing up in a poor neighborhood and the plight of many poor families in the economically depressed communities in East Texas. Growing up in Dallas and Fort Worth, I didn’t get to see much of small town life, except when we would visit relatives out of state. Hearing about how her family would have to wear heavy coats indoors at the dinner table because they couldn’t afford to heat the house, only to learn later that her dad had thousands of dollars hidden in places – never in the bank. He didn’t trust banks.

Looking back, I realize now that I always had some anger. I can remember when I was very small having fits and tantrums. I have no idea where that came from, and I’ve always assumed it was some defect, a system default, in computing parlance. Here I am in my late forties, and I still get angry. I don’t get mad at the asshole who tailgates me, then blows past me just to tailgate the person ahead of me, driving the exact same speed, by the way. No, I get angry about people who don’t feed their kids, or the parents who pull their kids out of school to move them to another state because the dad had pissed off too many people, or the guy who leaves his wife and kids to move in with his girlfriend. I get furious with people who spend their money – and other people’s money – on meth or heroin instead of using that money to pay for the class they told me they needed it for.

So much for my empathy. Well, I have a lot of empathy for the kids who get neglected. Maybe I should have some compassion for the poor drug-addicted shit-bags. But I don’t. But I should, fuck it all. Now, drug addiction and alcoholism are diseases; I know this. If I were a German shepherd, maybe I’d be a better judge of character, but humans can be deceived. Then again, we can be pretty perceptive, and I’ve learned to trust my instinct, my gut perception.

My default settings let me see into the world a little better than some. They get me in trouble, and I dare not publish exactly how I feel about a certain drug-riddled East Texas town about 168 km from Dallas. I have managed to deal with my anger about real injustices, so much that I’m worried I don’t have the same intensity and focus I used to. That’s probably just age. But here I am, shaking my fists at the heavens and asking, “why?”

Like I said, I am fortunate. I was born into a family with no history of violence or drug abuse. No one in my family has any debilitating illness. People tend to live a long, happy life. And no one beats his wife. No one beats their kids. So when I see this happen, it shocks and infuriates me. Of course I could be channeling the repressed anger from being bullied. I have confronted that, actually. Soul-searching yields some pretty interesting results. I won’t go into details here.

That being said, I recall an adage from generations past. It goes, “I used to cry that I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” Yes, we can all find someone who is less fortunate than we. And no one likes to hear how we feel sorry for ourselves. But does this mean we don’t have the right to feel what we feel? If a person is less hungry than the next, are they not hungry? The false logic of this argument compels is not to bitch about our lot in life, but contrary to the implication, we’re absolutely entitled to feeling abused, lonely, oppressed, forgotten, or any other misery we tend to visit. Sure, there are some who simply want to complain, but who are we to stop them? Everyone’s got a right to expressing their own angst.

So, I find myself complaining from time to time, fully understanding the reality of my good fortune. Some would say that we shouldn’t complain, and I usually don’t indulge, mainly because I am conscientious of how complainers come across. But this shouldn’t stop us from telling a close friend, a Facebook audience, or a blog community about how we feel. We are all connected to one another, and we need support wherever we can get it. As for me, I will continue to be grateful for what I have. My wife and I regularly partake in “gratitude lists”, voicing what we are thankful for, taking turns to declare out loud how grateful we are for little things. We are never at a loss to find things to be thankful for, including rainy days, the electricity going out, and a range of perceived misfortunes. You’d be surprised how “bad” things can be a blessing.

So, I’m thankful for my lack of physical pain. I’m thankful for the upcoming rainy weekend. I’m thankful for my noisy neighbors (you don’t want the quiet types). I’m also thankful for my family and friends. I’m thankful for my simple existence. I can go on. Maybe it’s part of my makeup to be positive. Maybe it’s just who I am. You know, default settings.