Inspection- Roller Coaster

There’s a lot of personal information in here, but most of it leads to a point that I think will help others, and bring new perspective to politics, that bully boss, or fellow employee who can’t stand you… and life in general.

by Ken Carman

 Why is it we recognize certain truths only when the journey is so much closer to the end than it is to the beginning? I was so sensitive as a youth the moment things went south I just “knew” everyone thought me the fool, that something had to be seriously wrong with me and nothing I could ever do would change that.
 Poor self image feeds into itself, like cancer it can be terminal when not cared for. Depression is its own fertilizer and could be considered the only perpetual motion machine ever, if there was any actual motion, or machine.
 And there are always those all too willing to help; family members, older brothers or sisters, playground bullies.
 I should have recognized this when a kid I didn’t know picked a fight with me in elementary school and one of the members of the crowd I’d never met cheered him on with, “Kill him! I hate that kid!”
 I put my fists down and said, “This is stupid,” and just walked away.
 But even into my teens I dealt with poor self image, and what was it that highly respected philosopher, Bart Simpson, said about teens?

“Ah, depressing teenagers: like shooting fish in a barrel!”

 It took me years to recognize that our perceptions of what people really think are often deeply flawed, especially when it’s someone we disagree with, or don’t understand. And the normal highs and lows of life don’t help, except “help” those who enjoy pushing others around.
‘ Life is a roller coaster. We take the lows too personally, and lay claim to causing the highs far too often. We also dismiss any lessons either can teach us far too easily. Perceived blame becomes a cancer, destroying relationships with ourselves and others. You have those in the back of the coaster cars pointing and laughing at those headed down in the front car, and those in the front beating on themselves, asking, “What did I do wrong THIS time?”
 From Ronald Reagan and Bush, to Bill Clinton, to the more eventful sequel: Bush II, and then on to Obama… no matter what you believe, politically, life’s roller coaster effect is so obvious. Anyone who lived through the sixties should be able to attest to this.
 Because our perspectives are so different, we are each at a different point in the ride.
  Politics, especially as practiced these days, encourages this angst. And even more so than us regular folks, politicians: almost by their very nature, often think it’s all about them.
 It’s not. Never was.
 I look back at my 62 years, all the presidents, all the wars we thought would never end, the assassinations, AIDS, how gays were used to win elections and then, in what seemed a snap of the fingers, politically, it became politically unacceptable to opposing them getting married: all can fit into this roller coaster metaphor.
 There have been times when most of the drama was over actual issues, rather than personal insults. It was about more than “I hate that kid I really don’t know: hit him!” But, unfortunately, they seem fewer and fewer. Single issue politics make it worse. It’s far easier to be that bully so that anyone not against, or for, legalized abortion is evil.
 Some describe how we view such things as black and white, but I think it’s more like where they take old pictures, or movies, and do a REAL bad job of adding color. This kind of politics are so destructive
 Yet, there certainly are those who enjoy all this, those who truly get their pleasure out of being sadistic. They love how Facebook enables their snarky, ad hominem name calling, debate sites enable their non-debating “talents.” They use all that to cheer up their tiny, sad, depressed, self hate-filled, lives. They get great pleasure out of being being sock puppets, trolls, out of turning posts into something never said, then blaming what they did on the poster.
 Unfortunately I have found the only thing most respect, what causes them to back off, is hitting them with the same nasty snark they so freely spew all over on everyone else.
  Perhaps, being so much closer to the end of the ride than the beginning, some of this is cynicism on my part. So I enjoy as much as I can. Since none of us chose to be here, as life’s clown car gets more erratic the speed keeps increasing, days flash by faster and faster… beautiful vistas still fly by, as do more slowly passing days I’d rather not repeat.
  I guess no matter how bad it gets, the secret to it all is letting go and enjoying the ride.

       The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
       Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it.
       Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
       But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.

       The secret of love is in opening up your heart.
       It’s okay to feel afraid, but don’t let that stand in your way.
       Cause anyone knows that love is the only road.
       And since we’re only here for a while, might as well show some style. Give us a smile.

       Isn’t it a lovely ride? Sliding down, gliding down,
       try not to try too hard, it’s just a lovely ride.

               -Secret O’ Life, by James Taylor

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Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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