Tonawanda News


August 16, 2013

His widow called to tell me the news

Tonawanda News — Starting in kindergarten or even before, you meet people eager to tell you you’re wrong, about everything. I refer to the ones who doubt your opinions and ideas and goals at every turn, tell you why things will not turn out the way you hope. The ones eager to dampen whatever enthusiasm is available.

You’d think you would outgrow exposure to them, but as you get older you find more, everywhere. High school, college, work life. The ones to whom you could apply a little amateur psychotherapy and conclude they’re jealous, they’re misanthropic, they’re self-loathing failures, they seek an advantage by planting some self-doubt in you, they somehow have a vested interest in seeing you screw up and seeing themselves slow you down.

There will always be some schoolyard whiner unhappy not with results but with conditions. And they themselves do not outgrow it: walk into a fast-food or casual restaurant and find the loudmouthed older guys who congregate there in the morning the way they once did at night in saloons. There is typically one person in those circles of friends providing freelance grousing about whatever the topic of conversation.

Get outta here, it won’t happen. You can’t do that. Goddamn (insert name of powers that be here) won’t let you get away with that. No way. You’re not smart enough, rich enough to pull that off. Forget it.

To them you are not the idea machine you think you are. You’re more like a mirror, the person ready to attempt what that bitter negative influence will not or cannot.

You meet people like this in life. You do not cultivate them or strive to find them, but you meet them anyway. (All right, some people cultivate them: it seems to be a codicil to life’s grand contract that there are people who are users, and people seeking to be used, in equal numbers.) Some people get their kicks stomping on a dream, a great man sang, and learning to ignore their poisonous, ruinous comments can be regarded as a sign of maturity.

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