Unpopular Opinion: Part One

Posted: 10 January 2009 in bitter old woman, observations, propaganda

Unpopular opinions are common around here.  In fact, there have been enough unpopular opinions that it’s almost worth a new tagline.  Folks felt strongly about my Terry Prachett problems and there was more than a bit of backlash on my Prop 8 sentiments.  Here’s another one for the books.  I’m about to express an unfavorable opinion about something as wholesome and pure as kittens and butterflies.  See?  You’re already outraged.  To tell you my unpopular opinion, I have to tell you a few other things first.  Head straight for the comments, or the delete key at anytime in the next few days, whatever floats your boat.

Part One: You can do anything, really.

I could be an olympic runner if I could do everything perfectly.  So could you.  I’m sure of it.  I’m convinced, that if I worked out just right, ate the right things, and followed the right training program, I could be a winning runner.  Not necessarily the best runner, but I could run marathons, win races and excel.  I could be a doctor if I went to the right school, studied the right amount, took out the right loans.  I could make American Idol if I got some voice training, practiced just so and didn’t drink milk.  You see how my thinking goes?  I’m very much of the “you can do anything you set your mind to” school.  Blame my mother.  Hell, we do for everything else.

You’re smirking without even realizing it.  You’re thinking about natural talent.  Genes.  I suppose you could make the argument that without the proper aerodynamic frame, a runner isn’t successful.  And that that frame is genetic.  I suppose you’re thinking that it takes time and a certain measure of intelligence to become a doctor.  Also, some folks can sing and some can’t.

I just don’t believe anything is impossible.  Try hard enough.  Accomplish enough herculean feats.  Anything is possible.  I don’t suggest that it’s easy, only that if you know how, it’s just a matter of following the steps.  And that’s the key.  You have to know how.  The catch is that you can’t always know how, not really.  I can know what runners eat.  I can find the right experts to critique my technique.  I can buy the right shoes, weigh the right amount and clear out limitless hours to practice.  But I still might end up with shinsplints and fail at running.

Here’s where I suspect our thinking differs.  I’m certain that I could prevent the shinsplints if medical technology were advanced enough.  Maybe it would take gene therapy or breaking and resetting my legs.  Maybe it’s a shot that hasn’t yet been developed.  Maybe it’s a certain biofeedback technique that no one has discovered.  Bottom line, I’m not going to be a runner not because I’m lazy and eat cheetos all day but because I get shinsplints and I can’t quite figure out how to fix them through technique or anything else.  I’m sure it’s possible for me to win a gold medal for running, I just haven’t quite figured it out yet.

You can imagine that this applies at all sorts of things in my life, some nice and some not so.  I accomplish goals easily.  When I was small, I told my mother that I intended to speak six languages before I turned thirty.  I almost managed seven.  When I decided I was tired of being a diplomat, I decided to be librarian.  I found a program, got a degree, found a job and moved.  On the downside, I have unreasonably high expectations for myself.  No really, unreasonable.  For example: I should be able to single-handedly replace this carpet and paint this room by tomorrow.  Perfectly.  Or, I should be able to write a bestseller and find a publisher in under a month.  Honestly.  I know, I’m a lunatic.

This attitude informs my opinion on all sorts of things, for better or worse.  I know it’s dangerous and thick with the risk of alienation and insanity.  I try to keep it in check and I try to remember to laugh when my wife delicately pokes fun. I try to remember that a cold just has to go away, that you aren’t just coughing to spite me, secretly avoiding doing the very thing that would make you better.  I stop to recall that sometimes the hole gets so deep it’s incredibly hard to climb out of.  The guy on the corner with his hand out could be an executive, yes, but his hole might be deeper than mine.  His starting point further away.  His challenges harder. On the other hand, nothing is impossible and any dream should be sought.  At least until you hit the brick wall of the immovable, the unknowable.

For tomorrow: I have antiquated opinions about things.  It sucks.  I wish I were more progressive in every area of my life.  But I can only work on one thing at a time.

  1. Wow. I’m so glad to have found someone else who shares this philosophy! People think I’m nuts, so I’m glad I’m not alone.

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