Ever have those people in your life who seem to suck all the life from a room the minute they walk in? I call them Energy Vampires. You know the ones I’m talking about… there’s always something wrong, something to complain about. The sun could be shining upon their winning lottery ticket and their focus would be that the pollen in the air is bothering them. Dad used to say it best, “You’d bitch if you were hung with a new rope.”
It’s not that all of us, at some point, don’t have some issue that we need to work out and bounce against friends. That’s what friendship is for. Shit happens. I’m talking about people who just can’t seem to find the positive in any given situation, and more, who don’t want to allow anyone else to find the positive in their own situation(s). While I’m all for loving the unlovable and rooting for the underdog, I have a difficult time dealing with those who won’t accept and use the help that’s sent their way. I find myself completely repulsed by those who actually seem to enjoy feeling lousy about life. I walk away.
And that somehow makes me feel disappointed in myself, as if I haven’t done enough or tried hard enough. It’s really difficult, painful even, for me to accept that some people just don’t want to love life and that I can’t do anything about it. I know that sounds a little ostentatious, but if I believe anything about myself, I believe that I’m here to make the world a little better for others. So, I get pissed off when folks want to wallow because I see it as a form of selfishness - a rude behavior that I can neither abide nor change.
I’m not above the occasional self-pity party, and in fact, have hosted not just a few. Then I realize how ridiculous and ungrateful I’m being and it’s done. Sometimes you just have to go there in order to get it back to good. I was schooled in “pick yourself up, brush yourself off, start all over again.” In reality failure, after all is said and done, IS an option, but only because it bestows a proving ground (ask the Wright brothers, ask DaVinci, ask Einstein). It’s using failure as a stop-all that’s the crime. It’s the constant expectation of failure that’s the sin. I should know…
Years ago I ignored my artistic instincts because I knew I’d never be an artist like Dad was. I kick myself daily for having had that attitude. Not only could I have learned heaps from the man, but I’d have lead a much more content life. So I’m not an artist like Dad… perhaps I’m a different artist… perhaps I have something other to say to the world. I ignored my musical abilities because I knew I’d never be a musician like Clapton is. I feared my writing skills because I’d never be able to scribe like Sandburg did, or like Amy Tan does. So what? So the fuck what?! I’m who I am and I have something to say. This has been my mantra for the past year.
A few weeks ago I shared some of my artwork with an online friend. She began by saying, “I’d love to be able to do art like you do, but… and the way you write, I could never…” I should have felt complimented. Instead I felt my jaw tighten and my teeth grind against each other. It’s a good thing she couldn’t hear my “AGGHHHhhhhh!!!” of disgust. Instead, I politely typed back, “Baby steps. Don’t shoot for greatness, just shoot for making it feel good.” Instead of replying, “Nice advice, thanks.” She said, thereby ending the discussion, “Oh, I can’t. I’m just not equipped.” I did the virtual reality version of walking away and just stopped communicating, then went outside to regain some of the air that, like a shop-vac from Hell, she‘d pulled from the room.
Baby steps, People. I’m stumbling right beside you. Baby steps.