Selfishness and You

So I hope everyone enjoyed their Independence Day weekend as much as I did.  I had a long one granted to me by the federal government which is why this is going up so late.  Sadly, I was one of those people on July 4th, I took my son to see “Jurassic World” on Saturday.  I do not usually go out on holidays because I used to work in the same industry as most of the poor souls that work those days and though it’s not much, I try not to contribute to the mass hysteria.  Unfortunately, as I was trying to do a favor for someone close to me, I failed to realize what day it was.

First, I loved the movie and I will have a set of reviews up later this week.  Second, I may have been a little hasty in taking my son to see a movie about dinosaurs run amok and I hope my wife doesn’t read this.  A couple of the more suspenseful scenes were a little too much for the poor little guy who had crawled into my lap around the ninety-minute mark.  After it was all over however, he did say he enjoyed the movie and I hope by the time it comes out on video to have shown him the first three films in the series.  Third, I was surprised that the movie evoked some pretty powerful memories.  Some of these memories weren’t exactly welcome either, but they returned anyway.  This brings us to the point of today’s entry.

“Jurassic World” marks the third time I’ve seen a film in this series in the theater.  The only one I never saw in the theater was the original actually.  My best friend in grade school, whom I’ll call “A.J.” here, had seen the movie in the theater that summer and while I was just as excited about it, my family wasn’t big on going to the theater to watch movies.  Our movie night was homemade hot dogs and french fries with a video from the rental store.  I bought the “junior novelization” from the Scholastic book order program at our school in fifth grade.  In sixth grade, both AJ and the school library bought copies of the Michael Crichton book, which he and I read as fast as we could.  I had only read the forty-something page kid’s book before and found the novel to be the most amazing thing I had ever read.  I was eleven years old and yet everything in the book made perfect sense to me.  This would be the start of a lifelong appreciation of Crichton’s work as he has a very distinct style that makes even the most complex and impossible science seem totally believable.  AJ loved the book too and even though it was very different from the movie, the movie was still really good too.  This still being the early nineties, though I can’t explain why, some movies didn’t make the transition to VHS tape as quickly as others and JP was one of them.  When it finally came out, AJ had me and his neighbor friend over as his parents were going to rent it.

So, while I’m sitting in the theater Saturday afternoon with my son, blown away by amazing visuals of the very park I dreamed of for twenty-two years, I’m suddenly reminded of how at AJ’s house I talked through the whole film.  Those of you who know me personally can probably relate, but I will never forget how irritated AJ sounded when he told me to shut-up at the part where Dr. Grant and Lex are trying to escape the T-Rex just as it pushes the electric Ford Explorer over the concrete barrier.  This one memory brought back a flood of others that are not movie-related in any way.  Over the next year, I would continue to act in such a way that I pushed AJ completely out of my life.  You see, my talking during the movie was just one small way that a much bigger problem manifested and without going into too much detail, suffice it to say, AJ wasn’t the only one who had grown tired of my behavior.  This same behavior made my life in high school more unbearable than it needed to be and yet I couldn’t figure out why everyone else was being such assholes to me.

This would be an ongoing theme for much of my life over the next twenty-years.  I repeatedly, and consistently, acted in such a way that got me picked on, targeted, ignored and even fired multiple times.  Yet no matter what, I always managed to blame everyone else instead of myself for the situations that ended poorly for me.  It’s very easy to identify today, but at the time I couldn’t see the common denominator in all of these circumstances was me.

I used to wonder all the time what my life would be like if I had changed schools the year that I read “Jurassic Park;”  my parents gave me the option to stay where I was or go to the public middle school.  While I’m sure I would be on a vastly different path from the one I’m on if I had changed schools, simply by virtue of the butterfly effect (thank you Dr. Ian Malcolm), I used to believe that my life would have turned out better for it.  Today I know that it was my behavior that typically put me at odds with everyone else and while the venue may have been different, my behavior likely wouldn’t have changed much and I would just have different people who were irritated by me for the same reasons as before.  By that I mean, AJ wasn’t the only one I pushed away.  Another close friend from grade school, whom I’ll call Wayne, still talks to me today although considering the things I did to him too, I can’t explain why.  Though AJ and Wayne are probably the two that got it worst from me, there are other friends from those days too that I have to thank for being mature enough to realize that kids are idiots and being gracious enough not to hold some of the stupid things I did back then against me.

It didn’t end at childhood either, I was an “annoying little weirdo” in Army basic training too.  At most Army schools I would attend later I was still that guy.  Though I have always managed to make friends easily, pretty much every job I’ve ever had as an adult still found me making friends with people only to quickly make some of them regret having ever been nice to me in the first place.  One in particular because he stuck his neck out for me more than once, though the things I did certainly didn’t warrant that amount of kindness, which only speaks to the character of the person I hurt even more.  That sounds rather harsh and I’m probably being hyperbolic about how they actually feel about me, but I certainly would not blame them for thinking it, as I can see now looking back that I did some pretty indefensible things.

Twenty-two years later, between medication and therapy, I have indentified what I was doing that was just so obnoxious and irritating.  It’s actually rather embarrassing because I know at least one occassion where I recognized the same flaw in someone else and called them out for it.  I have always prided myself on my self-awareness and my ability to step outside of myself once-in-a-while and try to look at things objectively, yet for some reason I was unable to do that in this one area for years.  What’s worse is that I’m now aware how hypocritical I looked to people close to me, which makes the guilt I feel over my ridiculous behavior even worse.

In the end, there are three people specifically that I want to apologize to for my behavior, two of whom I mentioned here under pseudonyms, and one didn’t get a pseudonym but still deserves an apology.  If they’re reading this, I’m not sure they’d know I was talking about them or not but I’m pretty sure that two of them will never read this because I’ve talked to neither in years and I highly doubt they’re following this nor do they care about my progress as a writer.  Wayne might be reading this, but since I didn’t mention specifically what I did to him he may not realize that Wayne is him.  Still, I want it known that they are the three that I hurt the most and the three that deserve my sincerest apology.

The reason I am posting this on my “nerd and pop-culture blog” is because in my years as an internet user I have seen many people engage in much the same behavior.  While I won’t defend them, I can at the very least say that I understand.  There are people out there, like me, who for whatever reason think just differently enough that their worldview is a very self-centered and egotistical one for no more reason other than they believe that everyone else thinks like they do.  They have no reason to believe otherwise because no one has ever taken the time to explain it to them.  It’s not that they lack empathy, it’s that they lack the motivation to be empathetic.  Some of you might be wondering why it’s necessary to explain something so blatantly obvious and the reason is to someone like me, people like this, it wasn’t obvious; it’s not obvious to them.

So, to everyone reading this, let me say that if I ever acted selfishly and/or obnoxious to you, please know that from the bottom of my heart I am deeply sorry.  Certainly if I had known better I would have never done it and I’m ashamed of it today.  Even if I don’t know you personally, accept my apology on the grounds that my selfish behavior only contributed to making this planet a worse place to live than a better one and I intend to spend the rest of my life doing the opposite.

Fanman, out.

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