I was in Elmhurst, IL
not too long ago visiting some friends. One of these friends, a guy named Joe, taught me how to change my oil. When I finished changing my oil and my oil filter
he smiled and said, "Sparky
, I'm proud of you." I looked back to him and replied, "Yeah, but you know the entire insides of the car, how is my feat worth being proud of?" He sent his pretty green eyes back into mine, "I'm a car guy
. That's what I do. You aren't."
That simple statement made me really re-evaluate some stuff. I'm smart, I got into a school that only a tiny bit of the population can get into, and I'm proud. But the thing is this, I'm a school guy. I know stuff, I read, I remember, getting into my school wasn't a grand feat.
I will now tell you what a grand feat is. My dad isn't a brilliant guy and he had a terrible childhood. He never graduated high school and he wound up really destroying his life via cocaine and alcohol. He's good with machines, and he means well. He's been working in a junkyard for twenty years. Well, just recently, he called me up and he told me that he got back into school. He got out of alcoholism, he got out of coke addiction, and he's enlisted in a technical school. He's not going to be making a hundred thousand a year and he's not even going to have a GED, but he pulled himself up out of the meta-human slime that he was stuck in and he's putting himself on the track. Me in school is like a dolphin in water, my dad in school is like a hydrophobic cat in water.
Here's story number two of a marvelous feat:
My mom's friend's son has Down's Syndrome to an intense degree. They figured he'd never remember his grandfather's name, let alone read. Well, now, at 22 he works in a Jewel gorcery store stocking shelves. He reads the labels, memorizes the positions they tell him to, and moves them when they tell him to. That is fucking amazing.
I'm smart. I'm lucky. Understanding of mathematics and language comes really fast to me. I've never had to work for anything. Thinking about my dad and my mom's friend's son and all you other people who actually have to struggle for the things you've gotten - I'm more proud of you than I am of myself. I feel awe, and almost apology, for the charmed existence I lead.