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There are things to hate about yourself

February 17, 2011

Of the many things worthy of being labeled “hated,” when I look at my behaviors over the past 30-odd years, I can easily hate stupid things I’ve done, times I’ve mistreated people, and times I didn’t stand up for what I believed in. And that’s just scratching the surface, but that’s all negative stuff, so today, I’m gonna write a little about what I like about myself.

Really, it’s just one thing.

My favorite hockey player of all-time is Alexander Ovechkin. If you had seen how badly I despised the Russians (Soviets) during the 1980 Olympics (think Miracle, cuz that movie nailed it) you would have never thought, in a million years, that I could like a Russian player. But Russia has changed, and so has her people.

Ovechkin; he’s not the “face” of the NHL (reportedly, the whiny crybaby, Sidney Crosby is) with his missing toof and devious grins. What OV brings to the game besides his talent and, imo, far more important than his talent, is pure passion for this game.

I draw a parallel between OV and myself when it comes to what we feel passion about.

I genuinely believe that if everybody on the Earth disappeared except for OV, he’d still go shoot pucks into nets. He was born for it. If I had the same happen to me, I’d still write. Everyday. No audience required.

That tells me a couple of things about myself (and, by association, OV). I don’t need any attention for what I do, even though I’m always seriously concerned about how my readers are reading and enjoying/not enjoying something I wrote. That’s part of my motivation, no doubt; I think to myself, sometimes, when I write, “What can I put on paper that will make a reader wiggle in her seat, smile, cry, and, when it’s all over and she puts the book down, make her think to herself, ‘I didn’t waste my time reading that. I gained something; maybe it was just something about myself… maybe something about people or the world at-large, but I gained a significant something from that story, and for that, I’m at least somewhat pleased with the author’s work and would read him again.'”

That is a sentiment I feel deep in my heart.

But underneath that, I’m a writer who doesn’t need an audience. Confession; part of why I write is because I actually enjoy reading what I write. Do you do that? I’ll look through some books and begin reading some and decide one or more is boring; I’ll be thirsting for some exciting words, and the quickest way to stumble across some, for me, is to write them. I won’t say I write for me; I don’t, specifically, but if everybody in the world were gone, yes, I’d write for myself. And I’d be writing for anybody who might come along in the future.

As I said somewhere else, I may not ever be rich or famous, but I can tell you by one early sign who will make it as a writer (this is not to suggest that absent this sign, a writer fails; it’s just saying that when this sign is present, that writer can’t fail): the writer who sits down to write and whose pulse begins racing and the feeling of at least brief elation washes over them when they realize how fun and engaging it will be to tell this part of this story; when they won’t go to sleep or are late for work or don’t hear the TV in the background because they are zoned-in, locked-on, and firing away at the keyboard to produce word greatness (let’s not get carried away; don’t need eyes rolling back in the head… don’t need wetting yourself), that writer, provided they aren’t just going through a “phase” and can get that feeling year after year, time after time, they are going to make it if they choose to try in writing. I’d bet a big, fat boat on it.

What I actually like about myself (and there’s little that I bother liking about myself; mine is a gaze outward) is that no matter how far I rise up any ranks, I’m you. My focus is the common man and woman. Because common is where I came from and common is where I’m returning to; common is a place I never have left. I will know, no matter how much buzz surrounds my work or me that I’m nothing. I’m just one more guy. We humans have a very specific and, when examined, odd string of things that gathers for us positive public attention. I don’t strive for that. So, when and if I get it, I will hand it away… I would gladly miss an interview on Oprah to give books away in a kid’s cancer hospital. I would look at snooty, famous people (while among their ranks, on camera) and say things like, “Get real, goofball. You’re no better (and I hope, no worse) than anybody else.”

So, as I said, I have few things to like about myself but I think one of my faves is my refusal to let any success elevate me above the people I came from, live among, and will return to. I’m also fond of my general passion when I like something (hockey, writing, fighting for those unable to defend themselves, despising racists and sexists) and my character that would make me take a bullet for any other human.

The rest? Marginal, or worse. At least those things I hate about myself are unofficially goals/projects that I aim to correct. What about you?

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