Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Dealing with life's disappointments
Yesterday’s callers all sounded as if they’d been dispatched from the suicide hotline.
“You gonna be okay?”
“It gets better, believe me . . .”
They all thought the Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl loss had me way out on the ledge.
In the great canon of my life’s disappointments, this one barely registers.
I can’t recall the disappointment that inspired the attempt, but I once set out to divine history’s most pessimistic summation of this great practical joke we all call life.
Here’s what I came up with:
“Life is a series of disappointments, each one greater than the last, leading inexorably to the grave.”
It doesn’t, I admit, have the same pithy ring of “Have a Nice Day!” but the essence is evergreen.
This has been especially true for someone like me whose life has been plagued by persistent delusions of grandeur.
Perhaps the clearest example of this was spring of 2009. The Pittsburgh Penguins had just won their third Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh was hosting a raucous parade attended by 250,000 revelers. The Pens rode in open cars and basked in the adulation of a metropolis they had by the tail.
I remember sitting home watching the euphoria on TV and thinking, man, I can’t believe no one called to invite me to be part of this.
And I wasn’t talking about the parade. Homeless derelicts were welcome at that.
I meant being up their on the podium with the champs.
Let’s for a moment examine this. I was an outstanding amateur hockey player -- and that’s no delusion -- but I ceased playing after high school. I covered the Ohio University Bobcats hockey team for the college newspaper, and later coached an area high school hockey for three bewildering seasons (combined record 8-42).
As for the Penguins that year, I’d done basically squat. I hadn’t attended a single game or contributed anything to the local media driving more rabid paying fans.
Sure, I watched the games on TV and wore my Penguins hat to the grocery store for milk whenever my hair was misbehaving, but that was it.
Yet for some reason, I felt the heads of the Penguin organization should have extended an invitation to have me be part of the team festivities -- the parties, the stag dinners, the midnight gatherings at the private strip clubs.
Why I feel this way is a complete mystery.
I do know this: everyone would have enjoyed themselves more if they had invited me -- and that’s no delusion.
As for my professional life, each and every day is, I swear, a crushing disappointment.
I go to bed each night distraught that some prestigious editor hasn’t called to say they want my novel and that Stephen Spielberg is interested in discussing the screenplay.
And then there’s this deadbeat blog. I figured it would take about a six months to gain an enormous audience and interest from wage-paying syndicates who’d want to shower me with praise, perks and piles of cash.
It’ll be three years in May and there’s still no sign it’s destined to become the national mania I was convinced it would be.
The strange thing about this is I know pockets of people who are absolutely insane for it. They give me just the reaction I’d hoped for when I commenced this solitary uphill climb.
They become despondent if I go more than three days without posting something fresh. They can’t all have substance abuse problems or foolish beliefs if they say nice things to me I’ll pay them all the money I owe them.
Talk about your delusions of grandeur.
So, yes, the Steelers loss was a disappointment. But I shall press on.
It’s all I know to do.
Because life is full of disappointments. The best we can all do is to cherish what we have while we have it.
Me, I’m going to divert my sporting interests to the Penguins and hope they are on a joyful march toward a fourth Stanley Cup.
Maybe this time someone will think to call me for the celebrations.
I’ll be disappointed if I’m not first to sip champagne from the Cup.