“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” — Orson Welles
“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” – The Princess Bride
Life is full of possibility and opportunity, but it’s also harsh and unforgiving. Yes, you can make a great life for yourself, but life is not a fairy tale; it’s not user-friendly and if you’re not careful, it will remorselessly roll over you like a 10-ton steamroller.
Many of us, myself included, preach optimism, positive thinking and looking at the glass as half full. However, there’s a difference between that and being a Pollyanna who looks at the world through rose-colored glasses. Too many people smash their heads against the wall over and over because they refuse to acknowledge reality and then, sadly, they finally just give up. Once you accept the uglier parts of life for what they are instead of sugar-coating them, you’ll go farther than you ever could have otherwise.
1. The average person cares more about what he eats for lunch than whether you live or die
Rob Bailey and the Hustle Standard’s song “Go Forever” starts out like so:
First of all, I was raised like…
Don’t be a b*tch, work as hard as you can
And no one gives a f*ck if…
you don’t have enough money
nobody gives a f*ck if you’re hungry
nobody gives a f*ck if you’re tired
you’re the only one that can fix that
Other than your close family and maybe a handful of close friends, that’s true and even the people who care the most will typically stay out of your business if they can. What about all those people tweeting out #hashtags about your problem? What about the politicians that say they care? How about the people who demand legislation to help you? They don’t care if you live or die; they’re just virtue signaling. They want everyone to see how wonderful they are because they’re so great that they even care about a schmoe like you. You tell the average person that doesn’t know you very well that you have a fatal disease and he’ll say, “I’m so sorry to hear that.” Then he’ll forget about it in five minutes while he debates with his friends whether they’re going to Chili’s or the Mexican restaurant down the street. What that means is that everything you want out of life, you better prepare to earn without getting a lot of favors on the way. If you fall, you have to be the one to pick yourself up off the ground, brush yourself off and get your life back on track. You care. They don’t. So it’s up to you.
2. Life is not and will never be fair
Much of American society has devolved into a poor, poor pitiful me contest between different groups that all claim be to the most victimized. “I’m Muslim and people don’t trust me because other Muslims blow things up.” “I’m a female scientist and I don’t think the other male scientists take me seriously because there aren’t very many women here.” “I’m white and my son didn’t get into a college, but a black kid with worse grades did because of affirmative action.”
Meanwhile, everybody seems to think he deserves special consideration. The ugly person thinks there is too much importance placed on looks. The feminist thinks a starting teacher should make as much as a starting coal miner because more women are interested in teaching. The black guy thinks he should be given reparations because of slavery. The Hispanic guy thinks his crime of crossing into the country illegally should be ignored because he has been here a long time. The wealthy business owner thinks his taxes should be less because he is providing jobs for other people. Even the dogs have problems.
It’s always something and it’s impossible to make everything fair. Some people are born rich; others are born poor. Some have two parents; others grow up in an orphanage. Some people are raised well while others grow up in homes with drug addicts. Some people are born talented, attractive and intelligent while others are untalented, ugly and dumb. You can’t equal all this out, and making a serious effort to do it would create a dystopian, nightmare society.
Accept that life is never going to be fair and take to heart what legendary NBA coach Pat Riley had to say: