This is an unpublished draft from 2011 that I’ve now edited and uploaded. Fun stuff!
Years ago, I discovered something interesting about my body: it hates me.
It wants me to fail. It wants me to never actually be proud of any sort of appearance or accomplishment. It apparently thinks this is funny.
It could be the layer of gut that never fully goes away, no matter how much effort is put into getting in shape. It could be the countless minor allergies I have that are never life threatening, but prevent me from ever feeling what most humans call “healthy”. It could be the fact that my tiny, disproportionate ankles get rolled so frequently that we call them Brankles (broken + ankle, kids).
Or it could be the fact that I get migraines when I over-exert myself. In other words, my head wants to rupture when I actually try to do stuff. Fantastic. You can take your pick as to what stands out, but to me, this is the main example of how my body goes out of my way to keep me humble.
The pain of the migraine should be enough, but not for me. My body actually mocks me for about 15 minutes before the migraine fully hits. Migraines come up in many different ways, and mine decide to arrive via that awesome tunnel vision blind spot thing.
It starts right in the center of my sight and is very subtle. Then, it starts to grow and cover my field of vision until eventually, I can barely see anything that isn’t standing off to my right. Sure, this serves as a nice warning, as I can say “Oh look, in ten minutes I won’t be able to see anything. Guess I should drive home NOW.” And I guess it helps me to fully appreciate the gift known as “peripheral vision” like it’s some important life lesson.
But ultimately, it’s just my body saying “Hey idiot: not only are you about to be in the worst pain possible, but you’re going to be blind the whole time. I HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE”
One particular migraine stands out, though, because it was just as much a product of my bitter self and my unrelenting stupidity.
If there is one thing I hope you’ve picked up on by this point in my time on blogs/social media/earth, it’s that I am unrelentingly stupid.
Once upon a time, I was playing a church league basketball game, before my church league career was cut short by a near-riot and consequent cuss-out on my part that Chandler and I hint at on nearly ROTC podcast. Regardless, I was playing a game and started to notice a funny blurred spot in the center of my field of vision.
I had a choice at this moment. I could just admit defeat, go home, and lay in bed until the head pain caused me to puke. Or, I could stupidly try to play a fast paced sport while feeling like I could die at any moment and not being able to see. Naturally, I chose to keep playing, as quitting is for weaklings and willingly putting myself at risk of injury is the super manly thing to do.
As you can imagine, the game progressed as well as it could have. By this, I mean that I soon was staring at the sidelines just so I could actually see the game going on in the side of my vision. My strategy was basically “Well, probably my team is doing well enough that I can hang out on one side of the court and try to not draw attention to myself.”
Truth be told, this plan could have worked out fairly well if not for unrelenting stupidity. It was that unrelenting stupidity that kept me on the court when I should have been home, it was the unrelenting stupidity that motivated me to charge recklessly down the court from my designated safe zone, and it was the unrelenting stupidity that placed me wide open underneath the goal with the ball flying towards me.
You’re probably thinking that I got smacked with a pass. Surprisingly, I collected the ball quite easily. Everything went wrong when I turned to put the ball in the basket from two feet away.
When I looked up, I couldn’t see anything. Not the rim. Not the hoop. Not the backboard. Nothing.
I knew then and there that there was no reason to try and protect my fragile ego. Unrelenting stupidity had placed me in a no-win situation. Now I was in pain and about to embarrass myself on the court.
I did the only thing I could possibly do in this situation: I threw the ball wildly at the backboard, missing everything entirely, and Charlie Brown walked to the sidelines. When I got to bench, still staring at the ground, I muttered, “Sub me out. Turns out I can’t actually see anything right now.”
Through the years, there have been many moments of sheer defeat in my life. I’ve experienced some moments in which unrelenting stupidity found me and the most fantastic way to humble me and threw it all in a blender to make a humble smoothie. This moment, though, sticks out to me still.
I would like to say I’ve learned my lesson. I really do. I would like to say that I can better see situations in which I’m destined to lose and I avoid them. That would be nice. But it isn’t true. Because at the end of the day, I am stubborn and unrelentingly stupid, and if there’s even the slightest chance of something working out, I’m going to charge into it, even if I can’t actually see anything at all.
So maybe I just secretly enjoy defeat. Maybe, just like my fickle physical frame, I actually hate myself and want to inflict punishment. It could be that I should just stop trying altogether, because my body is clearly trying to tell me that trying isn’t worth it.
Whatever it is, I know one thing: if you want to avoid pain, you have to know when to be optimistic and when to stop trying. If you want to be safe and secure, then don’t try so much. You can easily avoid pain when you avoid everything.
But when you combine bright optimism with unrelenting stupidity, you have more chances of making things happen. Sometimes, sure, it works out and it’s awesome.
More often than not, though, you end up flying blind in your unrelenting stupidity and this is what happens.
And then you write about it I guess.