You be the judge. And jury.
by Gary Huerta
I got some interesting feedback on my column last week. To those within my inner circle, it seems admitting to having a dickish inner voice wasn’t nearly an adequate enough confession of my major shortcomings. As I also professed in the previous column, I have a ruthless group of friends.
It was suggested that I really dig deep into my bowels and let the world completely understand the true nature of my misanthropic ways. Fortunately, I am the most vicious of my peers and I was already planning on eviscerating myself further for public consumption, so let’s do this.
Now before I continue down the path of convincing you to steer clear of me, I think it’s important to explain why I’m so willing to reveal such fatal flaws for all to pick at. Aside from my fondness for peeling fresh scabs – even my own – I see this type of confessional as a form of community service.
My misguided hope is that shining a light on my massive problems gives you readers an opportunity to evaluate similar traits within yourselves. I find it impossible to believe I am the only one struggling to find peace, love, happiness and all those other variations of contentment that elude me. I happen to believe the journey of finding one’s personal happiness is very common. So I figure it’s helpful to be a voice in the crowd saying, “Look, I suck at this too. I know my outlook on life is holding me back. But I am trying to overcome years of conditioning and get better.” If that provides the rest of you with some relief that you are not alone in this crazy game, then maybe some good will come from the things that I need to work on.
After listening to much feedback (mostly unsolicited and mostly deserved), I must admit to being a fairly pessimistic person lacking gratitude. Some have even gone so far as to call me incapable of experiencing happiness.
You know the glass half-full/half-empty analogy? I tend to see the glass as being full of microscopic bacteria that will kill us all. Not that I’m an obsessive/compulsive germophobe. Thankfully, this is one issue I do not have — those people are certifiable crazy. What I mean is that regardless of what others see, I look for problems that are not visible to the naked eye. Let me give you a few examples of my life as incontrovertible evidence to prove I am guilty of being a habitual pessimist and ingrate.
Let’s look at my home life. I have utter disdain for our live-in housekeeper because she does not do dishes, windows or laundry. She won’t take dirty glasses from the bar to the kitchen and she doesn’t take out the trash.
On the surface, you may see her inactions as justifying my disregard for her existence. But the more gratefully inclined would probably say, “You total douche bag! You have a live-in housekeeper and you have the unmitigated gall to complain that she won’t do a few things around the house? Some of us have to clean our own places and you are bitching and moaning because the cleaning woman who lives in your house won’t take out the trash? When’s the last time you cleaned a toilet, pal? And by the way… you have a bar? F-you!”
I submit herein my disdain for the live-in housekeeper as Exhibit A.
To further substantiate the charges against my character, let’s turn to my career. On a daily basis, I allow the following thought to poke at my brain like a thorny stick: My full-time job doesn’t satisfy my every creative whim and therefore is not satisfying. I also have two other jobs that provide me creative stimulus but don’t pay well. I definitely need to figure something else out or I will never be happy.
Let the record state that this defendant’s full-time job is at a company inching towards the Fortune 100. It pays well enough that I have no debt and includes decent benefits. I work with fairly brilliant people – the most talented group I have ever been around. Some of the perks I have enjoyed have included expense-paid trips to the NCAA Final Four and a trip to the Super Bowl. As far as my other two jobs are concerned, I teach writing at one of the most respected art schools in the country and the other allows me to flex my writing muscle as a paid columnist.
You’d think I could show some appreciation and live in a world of gratitude, but noooo! Instead, I end up focusing on what’s missing and what I haven’t yet achieved.
If I could get out of my own ungrateful way for just a few minutes, maybe I’d be able to see just how lucky I am to even have a job these days, let alone at a pay scale that provides me some financial cushion. OK. It’s not the ultimate creative position, but it isn’t breaking rocks in the hot sun either.
My other two jobs provide me with authority, credibility and exposure as a writer. Maybe I ought to see that they are taking me somewhere even though it may not be obvious just yet. Hell, the columnist job landed me right here with you reading it, so that can’t be all bad can it? Don’t answer that.
I submit my inability to appreciate my jobs as Exhibit B.
I’m not sure you, the jury, requires much more to convict me of illegally possessing ingratitude and pessimism, throw away the key and let me rot in my own self-pity. However, before you do I’d like to say something in my own defense.
I’ve often seen my inability to express gratitude, not as a crime, but rather as the unwillingness to compromise. If I am guilty of anything it’s that I posses a deep and earnest desire to always strive for something better. I’m not a pessimist, ladies and gentlemen. I’m simply a misunderstood perfectionist. Just like a lot of other people, right?
Of course, since I’m being honest, I must admit that I have already been convicted multiple times for extreme rationalization. And with that, I have nothing further.