I think it goes without saying that ALL of us come to the table with various chips on our shoulders. While someone’s situation may appear “picture perfect” on the outside, ultimately you don’t know the trials and tribulations they may have faced/continue to undergo. Likewise, things are often not as bad as they may seem. It’s really all a matter of attitude AND gratitude. Given this, it’s important to reserve judgment toward others.
the other side of the equation, it’s equally important not to allow
one’s battle wounds to permeate every aspect of one’s life.
While one’s past largely informs one’s present and reflecting upon past
experiences (both successes and mistakes) can be a fantastic means of
learning about oneself and the world at large, you’ll ultimately never
get to where you want to go in life if your perspective remains
stagnant. The example of Thomas Edison’s perseverant quest into the
1000s to establish a reliable, long-lasting, electric lightbulb speaks
for itself. The point I’m trying to make? Don’t allow yourself to be stifled and/or suffocated by your own emotional baggage – no one else wants to!
that introduction, instead of getting heavy into my regular
“psychoanalytics” this week, I’d simply like to relay to you two stories
in hopes that you’ll reflect on your own attitude toward yourself,
others and life, in general:
A few years ago when I was
working at the London Musicians’ Association (LMA), I met a man who had
the misfortune of being afflicted with a lifelong disability that
affected his motor skills. Despite this, he was passionate about
pursuing a career in music. Initial judgment would lead one to believe
he was making the best out of a bad situation – that he possessed a
rather admirable disposition. But the more I continued to speak with
him, the more his positioning of what sociological-dramaturgist Goffman
refers to as one’s “front stage self” (ie: the way in which you WANT
others to perceive you) broke down.
His reason for contacting
me was because he was intent on performing at a variety of local
festivals. He claimed he had a massive fanbase, his music had wide
appeal and that he was being discriminated against by the organizers of
these events due to his physical ailment. At the same time however, he
also made it clear that he was not a member of our association and in
fact didn’t see much point in becoming one…yet expected our services to
be granted to him?
I regretfully explained that unless he was
willing to consider membership, there wasn’t much we’d be able to do as
our limited resources are reserved for those who maintain regular dues
payments. With that said however, as one of the LMA’s services is to
investigate “unfair treatment claims” issued by musicians against event
organizers, I was happy to look into the case for him.
simply began by asking him to describe exactly what happened. It didn’t
take long for his rather harsh accusations to lose speed.
he explained to me, he applied to perform at a festival and received a
generic rejection letter back, advising him that his music did not fall
into the genre categories they were seeking. At this point, I reviewed
the letter, the genre categories of the festival and asked him to send
me a sample of his music. Wouldn’t you know it? The rejection letter
couldn’t be any more to the point.
When I attempted to
explain that I, myself along with many other musicians, have faced
similar rejections and that I did not see any indication he was being
“unfairly” treated, he immediately jumped down my throat and ACCUSED ME
TOO of being prejudice against those with disabilities…but it didn’t
just end there. When I returned home from work, I found a series of
“bitch-out” letters from him in my personal email inbox; he had decided
to look up my official website to obtain my contact information to
continue this “cyber war.”
While I initially empathized with
the fact he obviously underwent many struggles in his life due to his
disability and commended him for his musical efforts irrespective of his
condition, the revelation of his “backstage self” (ie: who he really
is) proved that it was his ATTITUDE NOT his limited physicality that was
holding him back in life. Like a spoiled brat, if he didn’t get what he
wanted, he’d consistently lash out and label the world as prejudice.
Moreover he EXPECTED special treatment – as though the world should
revolve around his every wish and command. Sad, but true.
contrast, a few months ago I came across a “Late Night Show” interview
with an amazing teenager named Joanne O’Riordan from Ireland who was
born with Total Amelia syndrome: a birth defect that afflicts only SEVEN
people in the entire world in which the sufferer has not just limited
mobility, but literally NO limbs to speak of. Throughout the broadcast,
O’Riordan spoke humbly of the “normal” life she lives and her positive,
self-sufficient attitude was more than evident as she drank a beverage
She admitted to hating being called an
“inspiration” and intends on never allowing her condition to become an
“excuse”. Equally however, she explained she is happy to engage others
when they ask about her physicality. She aspires to become either a
journalist or politician, and with her academic prowess and “can do”
attitude, I believe there’s no doubt she will get to where she wants to
go. She’s already successfully campaigned against a local MP who was
attempting to cut funding toward families who support disabled children.
I welcome you to check you the interview here for yourself: http://www.viduba.com/video:QVFbXRleO5mUxoURVtmUo1UMZdXW31TP
all of you, I’ve had many experiences in life where I thought I was
beaten down on the ground for good, but somehow I mustered the strength
to get back up for another round. The saying is true: “what doesn’t kill
you makes you stronger.” BUT there’s an important caveat missing from that expression: “it’ll only make you stronger IF you let it.”
okay to grieve, it’s okay to get upset, it’s even okay to scream at the
tops of your lungs if you need to get negativity out of your system. It’s
not okay (nor mature) however to allow yourself to be victimized or to
become an “excuse” king or queen simply because you don’t always get
To quote a rock musician who upon occasion
has something insightful to say, “you don’t always get what you want,
but if you try sometimes, you might just find you’ll get what you need.”
In conclusion, have an “attitude of gratitude” my friends –
you do after all live in one of the most privileged parts of the world.