Friday, April 21, 2006

Little munkee lost...

On my e-mail, one of my sig files is a quote from the cheesy golf movie "Tin Cup" that says "When a defining moment comes along, either you define the moment, or the moment defines you."

I always liked to think I defined the moment, and always feared the moment defined me. The story behind the quote was the seventh-grade street hockey tournament, and before I go all "Glory Days" on you, understand that the years from seventh through 11th grade were probably the ones that shaped me the most in terms of who I am and probably whatever is wrong with me.

In the seventh-grade street hockey tournament, I scored the game-winning goal in triple overtime of the semifinals. In the finals, I never got off a shot, and we lost. I always thought that was the defining moment of my life - I am so good at everything, until it really matters, and then... pfft!

I got engaged. I didn't get married. I was the star of the fall play as a junior. I didn't even make the cast of the musical as a senior. The list goes on.

The thing is, for a chronic underachiever, I've been pretty damn good at my career. But even there, there's a lack of satisfaction - a lack of a well-roundedness to my life, a lack of love or lack of something. Maybe just the lack of a rush. I lived for the rush. Always have.

There's a thing happening at work. I'm not really involved, but it's ugly, and it affects people who matter a lot to me for one reason or another. I don't want to go into the details, because that wouldn't be prudent - you never know who's reading.

But the thing is, I find myself wondering, when does prudence become cowardice? When you are offended, when you are hurt, when you are upset, why must you weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether to speak up?

And I'm lost.

I want to speak up. I want to scream, to rant, to rage. But it's impotent rage. Because this is the Real World. This is the Adult World. There is prudence, and politics and fundamental decency.

There is also a friend, who is on the defensive. And I always vowed I would always defend my friends.

But what if that's the wrong thing to do?

What if the right thing to do, isn't the right thing to do, if you catch my meaning?

Do you know what I miss the most about street hockey? Not the exercise, not the camaraderie, not even the rush, though I miss all those dearly. I miss the definition. I miss being able to look at the color of a uniform and know who was friend and who was foe. I miss being able to look at the scoreboard and know if I was winning or losing. I miss knowing, instinctively, the play to make, the way to play. I was at home on the court. A defensive wizard. A hard hitter, a feared headhunter. An agitator, a pest.

It was easier then. And maybe that's just the underachiever in me coming out. But faced with a situation like this, a clash between two important people, I knew which side I was on, I knew what had to be done, and I could drop the gloves and fight and it would be over.

If someone treated my friend like this on the court, I'd be headhunting. That's an enforcer's job. That's a fighter's job. I'd hit 'em high, and hit 'em hard, and get the butt end and the elbow up. I'd get even.

And every instinct in my body is crying out at me to get involved. To fight. To make trouble and demand justice.

And that stupid, hated part of me that knows restraint is telling me to stick my head in the sand, to stay out of it, to avoid the situation like the plague.

And I hate it. I hate it.

This is a mess. There's a job on the line, there's chaos. And I was raised to be chivalrous, and isn't the chivalrous thing to do to stand like a rock for what's right? To stand up for what I believe in? To stand up for what I hold dear?

But I have a job to think about, too. A career. A 401(k) and a pension, a mortgage payment and a credit card bill.

I want to cry.

Because I want to rage, even if it's impotent rage. I want to go down swinging and take everyone I can down with me. That's how you fight. That's how you win. Hell, that's how you lose if you can't win.

And I can't win.

Does that make it right to not play? Is it better to lose, and live to fight another day? What if you know that fight will never come? There will never be another day?

In the movie "Con Air," a good guy says a serial killer is crazy, and the killer responds that it's semantics: What if I told you crazy was working 50 hours a week so you can wind up in a nursing home hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time?

How many times can I turn away before it's a habit and not a compromise?

How many times do I think of myself first, even as it's harder to look myself in the mirror because I've done so?

Is saying "shit happens, life's not fair" truth? Or apathy?

I fought so long and so hard for my engagement, for my love, that somedays I think I just don't have any fight left inside me. Other days, I know I do, but I'm faced with the reality that there are no fights left.

I'm 31 years old. I'm overweight and on antidepressants. I'm lonely and tired all the time. I work too many hours for not enough gain. I also wore an expensive shirt and drove a fast car to a good job where I'm one of the youngest people of my rank and considered an up-and-comer. I've got a genius IQ and a degree from one of the finest colleges in America. I've got a movie coming out. I'm one of life's winners.

Why doesn't it feel that way?

Because I'm hurting right now. Hurting for a friend. Hurting for myself. Hurting because I can't do anything for her, and hurting because I'm afraid that means I can't do anything for me. Hurting because I want to act. Because my very soul is screaming at me to stand and FIGHT. Because my brain is telling me all the reasons to smile and shrug and eat another spoonful of shit and wait for the steak to come.

Because I'm listening.

Because I'm measuring all the things I'd piss away if I did what I want to do, if I did what I think is right. Because I don't even know how to do what I want. Because I'm sure it wouldn't matter if I did. Because I actually have to think about whether it would matter or not.

The code of the Solamnic Knights is "My honor is my life."

And it's something I try to remember. My honor is my life. That's not to say I haven't shamed myself. That's not to say I haven't dishonored myself. But it means I try. I try to do the honorable thing.

There are cultures that truly equate honor and life. Where a man would die before disgracing himself, would die as penance for failure.

But this is America, in the 21st century, and where success is measured in dollars, not in some antiquated code.

I won't get involved. No matter how much it burns inside. I won't, because it's not the smart thing, not the safe thing, not the prudent thing. In my head, I tell myself I'll file this away in the Great Book of Grudges, and I'll get even when I get the chance. But not here, not now. Now, I'll sit it out, and sigh, and rage so impotently inside, and smile wistfully on the outside and say "I won't get involved," "I don't care," "It's out of my hands" and all those other pithy little things that are P.C. and safe. It's the right thing to do. I know it, in my head, in my gut.

But in my heart, in my soul, it doesn't feel that way.

I hate the Real World. I hate its bullshit.

But there's nothing I can do. I'm in this game, and I want to win. But I don't know what winning is anymore. There's no scoreboard. No enemy in another colored shirt. Just chaos.

And defining moments.

I don't like how they're defining me.

1 Comment:

Stewie said...

There's nothing you can do that won't risk you job?

Jeez, that's a pisser.

Look at it this way, though. Is this something that if you don't get involved with you will be dwelling on it a year down the road?

Because, if it is, maybe there's a way to do something about it without putting your career in jeopardy.

Try to live your life without regrets, man.

Hope you pull through this.