When it comes to writing, inspiration comes from just about anywhere. In my past life as a political writer the subjects were either inspired by the news of the day or provided to me by a client. When it comes to creative writing, now that is a different story altogether. These days I find myself at my writer’s desk pondering subjects that have meaning and heart rather than subjects designed to shape social or political opinion. The title to this piece reflects an earworm running wild in my head. You know what I am talking about, the dreaded earworm, typically a song or jingle, one that drives you crazy as it repeats over and over again. No matter how hard you try you can’t shake it. Today mine, is not so much a song but a nursery rhyme, “Ring around the Rosie.”
This particular nursery rhyme comes from a time in our history beset with plagues, diseases that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Everything has meaning, a history or a story behind it. Back in the day, my way of saying a long, long time ago, rhymes were used as a way for people to tell a story and be able to easily pass it on to younger generations. The morale to this story, the explanation as I understand it is as follows. “Ring around the Rosie” refers to the red rings, one of the first signs, that would appear on the skin of those affected with the plague. A pocket full of posies refers to what I understand was a superstition advanced from the Middle Ages where a person would stuff their pockets full of these flowers as a way to keep away the disease. Now, there are reported to be two derivations for the next line. The first, “Atchoo, Atchoo” referred to the sneezing that was also a sign of the plague. The other version. “Ashes, Ashes” signifies the fact that the disposal of the dead during the times of a plague was to burn the body. And finally, “We all fall down,” reflects the fact that if you got the plague, you died. Talk about a serious bummer, one that I am glad nobody told me about when I was young, I might have rethought playing that game with that cute girl next door! It wasn’t until my curious writer’s brain decided to ask, “What’s up with that?” Now before some scholar decides to write me and “School me” about the accuracy of my description, I get it, there are a million explanations and time periods for this rhyme. I don't want to get hooked on the rhyme itself, instead I want to focus on the last line, “We all fall down.”
Since ending my political writing career and rolling the dice that somehow, somewhere I can generate a new life, redefine myself in the space of creating social awareness in the “Blind Space.” I like to think of this style of writing as one with heart and soul, touching hearts and minds rather than appealing to the tribal nature of where we find ourselves today. Being blind puts me in a unique position to write on subjects that I not only know, but ones I have lived and continue to live. As a result I have seen this line of questioning or individual reflection all too often:
"I’m not strong enough to deal with this.”
“Why is God punishing me.”
“People treat me so poorly, I can't see them and they don't see me.”
“I’m worthless now, destine to be warehoused in a home somewhere.”
“I want my old life back, I miss too much of who I was before.”
Like the nursery rimes concluding line, “We all fall down.” The truth is that we all do. It doesn’t matter who you are, we all have to deal with something. It is that thing, that roadblock that is placed in our path that causes us to make a choice. These choices are uniquely ours, designed as part of our own personal refiner’s fire designed to forge us in the crucible of life. Call it God, Allah, Elohim, call it the wisdom of the Buddha, or call it the positive or negative energy of the universe, the point is that none of us are immune from the challenges of life. At the end of this article I will add a video that I play on a regular basis. It is from a movie, but contains some of the sagest wisdom ever committed to film. It is the answer, the solution to the puzzle of the Rubik’s Cube that is our life. Of course, it is important to realize that whatever I receive or try to impart to you is merely an ingredient in the recipe of your individual life.
We live in very interesting times. We live in a time unlike any in human history. For the first time, ever, we have a window to the world, a window that in my estimation has panes of glass that are nothing more than blurred funny glass. That window isn't on the walls of our homes or office, you can't open them and get a blast of fresh air and maybe the warming rays of the sun. This window sits atop our desks, we carry it in our backpacks and even in our pockets. Social media has perpetrated the greatest ruse on humanity, it reflects a falsehood that the generations of the past never had to contend with. It reflects a very unrealistic view of the life and times of not only our friends but that of perfect strangers. Here is an example of what I am talking about. Recently I went bowling, something most blind people don't do and my wife spent some time recording me. Ultimately, she posted a video of me bowling a strike. So out there on the World Wide Web exists a video of a blind guy bowling a strike. It represents to an extent an illusion. I did in fact bowl that strike, there was no trickery, no green screened CGI special effects. But over the two hours that we bowled with friends and the many videos my wife took of that fun time, she chose to share the single video of that strike. What she didn’t show was the countless gutter balls I threw that day. I call it an illusion because it didn’t represent the totality of the experience, Instead, it was putting out there in the universe a very unrealistic view of the event. Now this isn't exclusive to just my wife, this is what social media represents, it shows our successes far more than it shows our failures. We post the wonderful meals we eat, examples of our children at their very best. It shows the new car we bought rather than the repo company taking back a car we missed a payment on. Social media tends to be a tool for making us feel better about our life rather than representing the reality of our life. However, there is another side of that window, a place where someone sits looking through the opposite side. As a result, our friends, family and even perfect strangers who find themselves at the lowest part of their journey are greeted on the web by our idealized version of life. These people dealing with their burden see you dealing with an identical burden but somehow miraculously, you are awesome while they are miserable. It is easy to then see why people are asking the questions like the ones I mentioned above. Why they are left to feel alone to suffer in whatever Hell they find themselves in. That is why we all have a responsibility to share both our gutter balls as well as our strikes.
My wife reminds me of one of her rules on a regular basis. “Nobody gets out of this life alive.” It helped me come up with a rule of my own, “Nobody gets a free pass from the challenge of life." Pride keeps us from sharing our greatest asset, and that asset is our failures. I realize that when you read that it might sound counterintuitive, however, I would challenge you to contemplate it, take a deep dive into why it is more important to share your failures than it is to flaunt your successes. This doesn't mean that you should walk through the world like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh lamenting the sad and beleaguered life you have been cursed with. What it means is that by sharing your failures, acknowledging them, they become not only turnaround points for you to correct your life, they become cautionary tales for others assisting them to learn from your failures. As you begin to share your failures with others in crisis, when you allow pride to give way to love of others and as they see your ability to work through failure you have now planted the seed of hope. Most people who are suffering are doing so because they feel like theirs is a unique set of circumstances heretofore never witnessed or experienced. The truth is that chances are, someone out there knows exactly how you feel, understands all too well what you are going through. The problem is, those stories are rarely reflected in this fast paced, pride filled, illusionary social media bubble we have created. The genuine and authentic has given way to stylized poll tested versions of reality. The truth is that we do in fact all fall down, however, it is what you do next that will determine the next chapter of your life. Let’s all start to share our gutter balls and use them to advance the life of someone we know in crisis. And finally, I will leave you with the words of Rocky Balboa, and underdog of epic proportion who in spite of adversity and circumstance taught me the greatest lesson of my life. I could spend a month and write volumes and never be able to convey the message of this short clip. It speaks to me, reminds me that I was once the son, beaten down, feeling that life was unfair. To me then, my excuses for my failures were as necessary to me as oxygen is to the lungs. That was until I learned that I could be the Rocky of my own story. Now here is the best news yet, as the author of your own life, you can be the Rocky of your story.
Video Clip of Rocky inspiring his son with a great monologue.