Saturday, January 30, 2016

I Hate Life!

Yes! I, the guy who is always trying to be positive and inspiring and avoids the use of the word (and emotion of) “hate,” hates life. You may be saying to yourself, “Say, it isn't so!” How can Ed Helvey, the guy who has shed so much of the traditional, mainstream lifestyle of the average, middle-class American, make such an all encompassing, negative pronouncement about life? All he ever does is write about living free and being happy.

I'm afraid I'm just human. I just can't hold back my true feelings any longer. I've finally come to grips with certain realities that cause me to make this proclamation. But, what's even worse is that I've met more and more people who share this hatred and I associate with them all the time. There is so much to hate about this life.

Let Me Count The Ways

I've been pondering this for a long time. I've talked about how so many people (about 70% according to reliable, current research of the population) is unhappy with the work they do and dislike or hate their jobs. While, I've never really had a job like that, other than some part-time jobs I had while I was in high school and college. I learned through those part-time jobs why most people are unhappy and dislike their jobs. But, these experiences were all very temporary for me. They were really learning experiences and I gained from them, even the parts of the jobs I disliked and wasn't happy doing.

So, let me count some of the reasons I hate life. Maybe you hate life for the same reasons or maybe you've never looked at life before from this perspective.
  1. I hate that life is way too brief (shorter for some people than others)
  2. I hate that there are so many opportunities in life I'll never get to take advantage of
  3. I hate that there are so many fantastic people in the world I'll never get to meet and know
  4. I hate, as a man, that there are so many wonderful women I'll never have an opportunity to love
  5. I hate that there are so many beautiful, exciting places in the world I'll never get to visit and experience
  6. I hate there are so many different kinds of foods and delicacies I'll never taste
  7. I hate there are so many adventures I'll never experience
  8. I hate there are so many different kinds of lifestyles I'll never experience
  9. I hate there are so many things I'd like to have, but won't have the opportunity to enjoy
  10. I hate there are so many jobs, careers, professions I'd like to experience, but never will
  11. I hate there are so many sunrises and sunsets I'll never see
  12. I hate there are so many things to hate not being able to
    experience during my all too brief lifespan
And those are just for starters.

Do you see what I'm getting at? There is so much to love, enjoy, experience, explore and try. Even if we were fortunate enough to live past 100 and still be physically, medically and mentally able to be fully active, we still couldn't, but scratch the surface of experiencing everything life has to offer.

Am I asking for too much? Maybe! Maybe not!

It's A Matter Of Your Perspective

Once upon a time, as all fairy tales begin, life was much simpler. But, don't confuse simpler with easier, better or happier. In fact, life has always been complicated and hard. It was just different. Basic survival is not easy, although in today's society we often take it for granted.

The reality is, while there is much to hate about life, as I enumerated above (and you may have more things to add to that list), there is so much more to love about whatever amount of life we each have. Life is very dynamic. It doesn't matter if you were born into life with little or nothing of parents who couldn't or didn't offer you much or if you were born into an affluent life of parents who lavished you with all they felt life could provide. Opportunity is the great equalizer.

There are so many examples of individuals who raised themselves up from simple and, often, impoverished beginnings to enjoy many of the finest things in life. And, on the other side of the coin, there are many people who were born with the proverbial silver spoon in their mouths and squandered not only the advantage the affluence may have offered, but often ended up lower than a snake's belly. What is the difference and deciding factor? It is their perspective on the opportunities life offered them.

Of course, starting life on the wrong side of the tracks or in a slum neighborhood or extremely humble rural environment is always a great excuse for not seeing life as one giant opportunity. Likewise, the affluent person may take his or her great fortune and not have a clue how to find opportunities to build and expand on their affluence to benefit himself or herself and society. But, opportunity is blind. It doesn't know the difference.

A majestic sunrise or sunset is exactly the same for people on either side of the coin of life. And, the person from humble beginnings may get up early to do whatever the day holds in store and revel in the majestic sunrise. Meanwhile, the affluent person may stay in bed until noon because there is no reason to get up early, so they miss one of the great gifts of this miraculous life we are each given. One can't determine who is wealthier, because it can only be determined by the individuals themselves. Each of us has a different perspective on life.

Two Examples

Example #1: Recently, in the news, there has been a “replay” of a story about a teenage boy dubbed with the dubious title of the “Affluenza Teen.” This teenager, at the age of 16, got drunk, drove a car on a restricted drivers license, was speeding, driving recklessly and drove into a group of people with a disabled vehicle. The result was that he killed four innocent people and seriously injured nine other people. His lawyer used a defense that he suffered from “affluenza.”

I was surprised to see how many definitions there are when I did a search for the definition of this relatively new word (to me) and condition. The first use of the word dates back to 1954. That was a surprise to me. But, it didn't gain more broad use until around 1997. And, it wasn't until 2013 when this 16 year old Texas boy took the lives of four people and maimed nine others that the public heard it and took notice. His lawyer said that because he had been raised in an affluent family, he wasn't familiar with the consequences of his actions, therefore he suffered from affluenza. Thus, he wasn't really responsible for his actions.

He was convicted of “intoxication manslaughter” and sentenced to ten years of probation. Basically, his lawyers argued that since he wasn't familiar with the consequences of illegally consuming alcohol, then driving in a drunk condition on a license that restricted him from operating a motor vehicle, even while sober, he shouldn't pay for his crime, but should receive rehabilitation. The prosecution was seeking a 20 year prison sentence, but the judge bought the defense's bunk and gave him ten years of probation.

But, as the late radio commentator, Paul Harvey would say, here is “the rest of the story.” This wasn't the first incident for this boy. As a matter of fact, he had a number of earlier, serious entanglements with the law. Getting off each time with a slap on the wrist. Did this latest, major criminal activity finally make a lasting impression on him? Absolutely not. 

Aided and abetted by his mother, the two of them fled the country and disappeared, to eventually be found, after a major manhunt, in a Mexican resort town. Now, to just paint the picture a little brighter, both of his parents had legal entanglements in their past and felt because of their affluence the law didn't apply to them, either. There's an old saying, “monkey see, monkey do,” and it fits this scenario perfectly.

You may think back to a white Ford Bronco driving along a Los Angeles Freeway with a long trail of police cars in what was called a “slow-speed” chase. In that Bronco was a former professional football player and B grade (if that high) actor by the name of O.J. Simpson. That chase led to what was termed one of the Trials of the Century with the famous “Dream Team” legal defense. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of two people even though the evidence was pretty conclusive.

In both of these cases, the affluence of these people could have been used for wonderful lives and contributions to society. Instead, it ultimately brought these people down. The Texas teenager may now face additional charges for his flight to Mexico. Hopefully, he will end up in prison to get his “rehabilitation” and learn the consequences of his actions. Simpson's life was shattered. The families of the two murdered victims sued Simpson for wrongful deaths and won at the civil level relieving Simpson of much of his wealth. Additionally, any career and reputation he had was gone. And, through the circumstances of some kind of unrelated illegal incident, Simpson has ended up in prison for a minimum or 9 years and as much as 33 years. Justice is finally served.

Although I threw in the O.J. Simpson scenario, the point is that both the Texas teenager (and his family) and Simpson used their affluence to abuse the system and acted like the law didn't apply to them. They had all kinds of opportunities to live decent, exceptional and joyful lives. They chose to blow it all.

Example #2: The second scenario is about someone you've never heard of and will most likely never meet except, by some slim chance, through me. This is the story of a teenage years friend of mine. I'm going to call him John for his privacy. John and I are the same age. We met as young teenagers in Sunday School and the Baptist Youth Fellowship groups, both the jr. high and sr. high groups, at the Baptist church we both attended. We lived in neighboring cities in New Jersey and went to school in those cities.

John and I became buddies, though we both were good friends with other members of our BYF group. I became interested in amateur radio while still in jr. high school and I inspired John to become involved and obtain his license, too. Both of our mothers were stay at home moms, but while my father wore a white shirt, jacket and tie to his engineering position with a Fortune 500 company, John's father was a factory worker. That didn't matter to John or me, nor our parents.

Although my father was not a college graduate, he had attained a fairly high level position in the aerospace industry as a non-degreed engineer, with degreed engineers he supervised. He had aspirations for me to attend college and he did what he could to guide me in that direction. John's father was a hard working, respected family man, likely, with about the same amount of education as my father. However, John's father may not have seen or chose not to find and take the kinds of opportunities my father did. So, he didn't have similar college aspirations for John.

I went to college, earned the degree, immediately went on to graduate school and earned a masters degree and had already become an entrepreneur. John enrolled himself in a technical school in electronics leading to the emerging career field of computer technology. He earned his way through school. He ended up being drafted into the U.S. Army for two years during the Vietnam era. I ended up enlisting in the U.S. Air Force for four years after I completed graduate school.

John and I lost contact after I began college since I dropped out of church attendance. I figured, because John's father didn't have the same aspirations for John as my father did for me, he was going to end up either in some kind of factory work or other less skilled occupation. But, as I was finding out after John and I found each other again about a year and a half ago, I would be wrong in my assumption. Ultimately, John went to college after the service and earned both a bachelor and masters degree over the next decade or so.

My career always followed my entrepreneurial track and I enjoyed a very diversified career in the professional audio recording, sound and tape duplication industries, the video production industry and the book publishing industry. I also did voice-over work, consulting, equipment sales, studio design and system integration along with some paid speaking and consulting.

John, likewise had a diverse career focusing mainly in the computer technology field and worked for a variety of companies in a variety of positions. He ended his formal career as a consultant to several major pharmaceutical firms before retiring .

So, this is the story of my friend John, who I didn't think was going to have the kind of life and opportunities I had because of our dissimilar childhoods and parents. But, I am so happy to say, John grabbed life and opportunities by the horns and made a very decent life for himself and his family. I had actually found and met up with John around 1990, but our visit was short and we really didn't get to know that much about each others' lives.

I thought John had passed away (his sister, four years older, had passed away of cancer several years ago), because when I started looking for him again a few years ago, I could find no trace of him. But, thanks to the Internet, I found someone a couple states away, in the southeast, who had John's unusual last name. I called and, happily, John is still alive, kicking and enjoying a pleasant retirement.

Again, perspective plays the key role. At one point in one of John's email narratives, when he was relating his career and educational story to me, he said, at one of his jobs they were treating him and his colleagues like “factory workers.” Now, I have the same respect for factory workers as I do for the CEO's of Fortune 500 companies. Actually, I have greater respect for the factory workers because they are the doers. I actually only place the CEO's (although I was one, but of a small business) only one rung higher (but, still pretty low on the food chain) than professional, career politicians.

John left that job and company because he remembered his father's life. John knew he needed to keep doing better then the stigma, as I perceive it, in his mind of the factory worker. John looked for and chose to jump on opportunities as they presented themselves. Some, didn't work out. John worked hard, earned his education and put it all to work. In the long run, John had a much better life than his father and mother. That's the end of the second example.

I Still Hate Life

I told you why I hate life. But, I hope you deciphered the picture I've been painting. Life has so much to offer everyone regardless of the station in life a person is currently, where a person comes from or how he or she got to the current position. The reality is simply this. Why does anyone choose to stagnate and allow life to pass by? Why do so many people, who grow up in a negative, lower social status and environment, CHOOSE to remain in that place instead of choosing to seek and grab opportunities to have a better life?

Everyone, regardless of where he or she starts out in the continuum of society, is not going to achieve great financial wealth or status. But, that's not even the point. The point is too many people hate their lives because they choose to stay in a place they hate. No, it's not easy to make changes. But, if one does nothing, than nothing is the result.

By the same token, just because someone starts out at the other end of the spectrum and is affluent doesn't change anything. It certainly doesn't spare them the responsibility of being accountable for their actions and looking for opportunities to make their lives fulfilling and happy. There is no excuse for resorting to alcohol, drugs, aberrant, arrogant and anti-social behavior at any point in the societal spectrum. Opportunity is blind and equal for anyone willing to step up to the plate and take a swing.

I hope you hate life the way I hate life. If you do, you'll appreciate and love every opportunity that comes your way, whether it's a sunrise/sunset, meeting new people, loving someone, creating a new product or service, lending a helping hand . . . the sky is the limit. Just remember, you'll NEVER run out of opportunities as long as you're alive. So, love and take advantage of every one of them you can because one day we all reach the end of our individual roads, but not the opportunities.

Live free and be happy. EH  


CinemaNoir said...

QThanks, Ed..... An outstanding post - gives me a great beginning to my Sunday morning.....

Jin R

Richard Rosen said...

A life filled with sunshine from within. Well done Ed.

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Thanks, Jin --

Glad it gave you a kick start and thanks for you nice comment. Much appreciated.


Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Thanks, Richard --

I always appreciate your comments and feedback.