Easy Way Out

On one of the morning shows today, one of the hosts was hassling some teens because they got gastric bypass surgery. He wanted to know why they were opting for surgery as teenagers, how did they know they couldn’t lose weight in the conventional way?

(As an aside. Jordana and I watch the morning shows together, barely awake in bed. Jordana’s make-up routine is hilarious. She gets up, brushes her teeth, sometimes showers, and then gets right back into bed without turning on any lights. She lies in bed drinking tea and putting on a little concealer and sometimes some mascara. Maybe a little moisturizer. She basically sits there with a small bag of make up and puts on whatever she pulls out, but she does it in the complete dark and with no mirror.

As she’s leaving for work, sometimes I can get her to brush her hair.)

As Matt Lauer, or somebody, was giving a 17 year old shit for undergoing dangerous surgery in order to reclaim his health and social life, I started going on a rant.

“Why the hell does the fucker care what some teenager is doing?” I started.

“Yeah, um, it’s way too early,” Jordana said, a Q-tip poised next to her ear.

“Why is it so bad for someone to get *surgery* they need? Why is America obsessed with hating ourselves for doing things the easy way.”

“I’m actually not really listening,” Jordana added, as she put moisturizer in her hair.

So, I figured the blog would be a better place for this.

People *love* to claim that ADHD is over-diagnosed, that we are raising a country full of drug addled zombies who are medicated into feeling okay. And yet, somehow, every person I know suffers from some kind of hidden obsessive misery, except for the ones who are medicated. Sometimes you take an anti-depressant just to put a lock on the door to the basement of your pain, other times, you get on an anti-anxiety pill so you can deal with things you are a little scared of.

But why do you get points if you do it *without* a pill? The reasoning seems to be the following; Life is a series of tests, and any time you get a windfall of money or a miracle pill, you are passing the test by *cheating*, and in the end you aren’t going to learn all the lessons set up for you in order to graduate. You have been given the answers to the quizzes and that is unfair, sure, but also wrong. In the long run, you will be less of a person.

Now, I clearly have a problem with the idea on an initial level, that there is some sort of intelligent design for your life. Somehow, your life has a series of hardships, questions, learning and answers that my grade school babysitter Matt Medley didn’t have when he died suddenly at age 19 by slipping on some ice in a parking lot. I have heard over and over again, all my life, that “Bad things happen to good people” and “God works in mysterious ways”, and I don’t ever hear, “well, all of this is actually devoid of meaning and is random and arbitrary.”

The wave that killed 150 thousand people ended, in one stroke, millions of people’s self loathing and misery. There were people who wanted better food for their children, there were people who wanted straighter teeth, there were people who wished they were taller, and yes, there were people who wished, with all their might, that they were thinner. One hundred and fifty thousand people, in one capricious arbitrary tectonic shift, are no longer living with the misery of existence, and yet there are Americans looking askance at one another for getting nose jobs. We have eighty or ninety years on this planet, and for some reason we want our neighbors to suffer through them.

Because that’s what it is. It isn’t that we enjoy learning the lessons of our hardships, it’s that we like feeling superior to people who “have it easy”. There is a boot-strap-pulling, blue collar arrogance about Americans that may stretch to the rest of the world, I don’t know. There is a lovely moment in “Master and Commander” when the doctor says, “I’ve never heard a man admit that he was rich or asleep.” It’s like comfort, ease of life, is tantamount to shame.

Medicating our lives is one aspect, inherited money is the other. Somehow, starting out poor and earning your money is so much more respected than inheriting it from your parents or marrying into it. There is a knee jerk desperation to the way rich people say, “I started out with nothing! I worked my whole life!!!”

Big fucking deal. I’d much rather have my kids not have to work their whole lives, work for them would be a choice. Jesus, what would my sister be doing with her life if she hadn’t spent so many years of it bringing people *FOOD*. Hours and hours and hours of her life, she brought people food. And that job meant she survived. There was no progress, there was no happiness in it. She took great pride, she survived, she ate and paid rent. But can’t we just admit that it’s terrible?

(Not for me, I’m a failure on that front. I’ve always been happier when I was medicated, I have managed to be fired from every job that demanded any level of concentration on my part, I have been living off the sweat of my wife and the few jobs I’ve been able to hold on to. I don’t have any *pride* in this failure, I wish I could do it differently, but I’ve found myself ill-suited for most work that one is paid for. I try to earn my place in the world in my own way, I work hard every single day, I’ve asked every friend and colleague for work, any kind of work, but no-one trusts me me, no-one thinks I can actually do any work, and, at 34, I’m tired of asking.)

I’ve got news for those of you who think the medication or the operation or the inherited money are cheating. The lessons you want these people to learn? They’re learning lessons plenty. You may think a large inheritance will make you happy, will provide you with built in success, but wherever you go, there you are. No-one cheats, the lessons are still there, are still cruel, there is no less sadness in a rich man’s life than there is in yours. Particularly in the rich man who thinks that being rich will help him avoid pain.

But if you can look at an extremely overweight child and make them feel *lazy* for getting surgery to help control his weight, then you have no heart. Even if you were a fat child and you worked hard to lose the weight- diet, exercize, the constant mocking of your peers ringing in your ears- then learn what you can from your own tiny insignificant success and leave everyone else the hell alone. In a hundred years you’ll be dead, that fat kid will be dead, everyone who’s alive right now will be dead, and your snotty ass superiority kick won’t even be a memory in the ash.