He wanted to be a pilot.
After being rejected as an airline pilot because of poor eyesight, a Los Angeles man cooked up an idea. He was going to fly, dammit! He came to this Darwin Award winning brainstorm in his backyard after having a few wobbly pops and allowing sense and reason to take a back seat. Tying a crap load of helium filled balloons to his aluminum lawn chair, he strapped himself into the chair with a six pack of beer and, already drunk and thinking clear as sludge, cut himself loose from his tethers and drifted off into the air... roving with the wind... free as a bird... over LAX International Airport... into the flight path of commercial jet liners.
We all do stupid stuff.
I’m no exception. Like the time I climbed a four hundred foot sheer rock face without ropes and proper boots and other safety shit. Of course, I was 12 at the time, but still... ya know? Or the times I drove my car one hundred miles per hour along a loosely gravelled country back road in the middle of nowhere that I didn’t know from Adam... cause it felt fun. Or the time I decided body surfing thirty foot swells at Kuda Beach in Bali might be a hoot until I snapped my neck back and lost all feeling on the right side for twenty minutes... and could barely lift myself enough to prevent drowning. Or the time I took a leisurely walk... alone... without telling anyone where I was... in the gang slums of Toronto... at night... just to prove I could.
Or the period in my life when I sat by myself in my apartment feeling alone and sorry for myself drinking one or two or three bottles of wine every night until the pain of being disconnected went away.
Yeah... those were the days. The only difference between the actions listed above is the speed with which I was self-destructing.
We all do some pretty self-destructive shit from time to time. Mostly it's to add a little "juice" to our otherwise mundane lives (it's not really mundane if you look more closely) or to forget the reality we've created for ourselves. It’s not always physical dangers either. Sometimes we take emotional risks without thinking of consequences. In the case of guys like me loaded with far too much testosteroni (the San Francisco Treat), it’s a matter of "proving" I'm a man and having really stupid shit to share the next time I'm drinking with the boys. “You’ll never guess what I did...”
How many of those dumb things would I have done if someone had had been close enough and cared enough to be the voice of reason?
I have seen a lot of “I am who I am and if you don’t like it, Eff Off” on social media lately. It seems to have become a mantra of sorts, which is fine if your goal is to keep everyone away. I have come to understand over time (through bouts of blatant, potentially life threatening stupidity) that people who care about me will tell me when I’m about to do something idiotic. Those who don’t care will let me wander around in some sort of moronic, self-induced haze laughing at my expense waiting for the punch line because they weren’t dumb enough to follow along or they wanted to see just how truly stupid another human can be.
Did you see what that jackass did to himself? What a moron. I can’t believe he didn’t see it coming.
The problem with “I am who I am” is it is limiting. It limits me from becoming a better person because I refuse to consider another point of view. It limits the people who become close to me. What I am really saying when I repeat the mantra over and over is, “I’m afraid of change. I’m afraid of losing me. I’m afraid of trusting anyone because my trust has been betrayed so many times before.” Having close relationships is a protection for each of us from doing things that ultimately have the potential to make our lives miserable. The most destructive words in any relationship are, "I don't care what you think".
The chasm created becomes too wide to traverse.
While I can't expect everyone to like who I am, I am far more appreciative of folks close to me letting me know that my behaviour is harming me and, in some cases, them. Unless I let people in, I’m dooming myself to a life of being less than I can be. And I’m telling them, “I don’t care enough about you or your feelings toward me to take care of myself so piss off and leave me alone.”
When someone tells me I am harming myself by participating in certain actions, I have to realise they are speaking up because they care. Sometimes my actions are hurting them, though I might not see it until they say something. In the long run, although it may hurt my feelings, I would much rather have someone say what they are feeling than to just let it go and hope I might somehow blindly stumble upon the inspiration that I am not only harming myself but I am affecting others in the process.
Even though I may not take heed of the input, I would rather have someone care enough to say something. Ah well... live and learn, right? Or die and become famous on the Darwin Awards for being such a daft prat. After all, “I am who I am and no-one has the right to suggest anything different... no matter how much it might affect them”.
On the other hand, I may be wrong about the whole thing, become a distant, callous uncaring loner and should stop caring what other people do.