Monday, July 19, 2010

Losers Rule

I didn't watch "Sports' Biggest Night", as ESPN so modestly called it ESPY Awards. No, I'd been burned before by that show. I saw that Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn won for "Female Athlete of the Year". Seeing as she wiped out in three of her five events, and that teammate Julia Mancuso actually had a better overall Winter Games, you could say I was surprised to see that. Nope, it was pretty much what I expected, continuing with the theme that failure is now more accepted than success. The "best", in the case of Vonn, failed miserably 60 percent of the time. Now come get your trophy.

Want another? Catch. Lance Armstrong is once again taking part in the Tour de France. No one can argue that Armstrong has had a fantastic career (though arguing about how he achieved such a career can make for some interesting give and take around the barstool). Not so much for this go-round. Three spills. Seems to me the easiest thing to do is not to run into another cyclist, but our boy Lance had it happened three times, effectively killing his chances to win. The articles I saw in the paper didn't describe an athlete past his prime, whose best days are long behind him. No, Armstrong was instead lauded for his "bravery" and "courage". It takes more courage to realize when you can't accomplish something anymore, and live with it, as opposed to millions of us seeing it for ourselves.

Winners used to get trophies. Now everyone does. Successes used to be toasted and held up as examples for others to follow. Now, inspirational stories are more likely to feature the homeless guy beating the heat, the single mom with two kids (at 25. Don't ask how she got where she was, just empathize) who works two jobs just to put food on the table (and pay the kids' cell phone bills), or the couple bravely facing foreclosure as the evil banks threaten to take away their house, car, boat, home theater system, spa memberships, etc. How brave they are in actually facing responsibility for once. Never mind that it's paid for by those of us that have kept our noses clean.

Starting to stray from topic. I'm good at that.

The word hero is tossed about so much these days its meaning has become watered down. Save a kid from a burning building? Hero. Feed a homeless guy a sandwich? Not a hero. Sully? Hero. Mrs. DeGronmont, 3rd grade teacher from Whippoorwill Elementary who taught Jamel cursive writing? Not a hero. That's what she's supposed to do.

If today's heroes are, in actuality, losers, we're doomed. Now go out there and be hopelessly average!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Creating And Debating

One thing I've noticed about these posts is that I rarely do it when I'm in a good mood. It's only when I'm down or nostalgic that I feel like sitting here and typing innocuous thoughts. If you follow this blog (God help you) you'll notice that there's been a dearth of material over the past couple of months, mostly due to the fact that my spirits have been high. Events over the past couple of days have sent me into a tailspin, so here I sit. Yet I don't know what to say. Funny, because creativity flourishes with misery, and flounders with happiness.

Well, that's something, isn't it? We strive for happiness, yet are most productive when we're not. If we're happy, we let things slide. This is particularly true in the artistic community, where the best work is born out of suffering. Show me a music artist that is happily married and I'll show you someone who's best days have long past. Show me a writer who's at peace, and I'll bet dollars to doughnuts his/her later work is filling up the bargain bins at Borders. The books are so bad they actually stock them in the area that's before you walk into the actual store, so you don't suffer the shame of having someone see you leafing through it.

Anyway, I guess the point I'm getting at, the question- is happiness overrated? Are we better off when we're miserable than when we're happy? We all have dreams we hope to reach, and we (usually) don't reach those dreams without working damn hard on the way up: lousy hours, low wages, demeaning superiors. Back then, it was all about having a couple of drinks on a Friday night and airing your frustrations to a friend or the bartender (if they paid attention to you, which was much more likely if the bartender was a dude). Then Monday morning it was back at it, with dreams of a better future keeping you from chucking your alarm clock across the room.

I have a nice house, an adorable gal, no kids to speak of, and an amazing little dog. Life's good, right? This is living the dream. So why do I fall into a rut so easily, and why is that rut so hard to crawl out of when it happens? I'm happy, right? Right?