The next day, in Louis Theroux’s “LA Stories” programme I saw a convicted rapist break down in tears as he declared how tired he was of making decisions about whether or not a “slap” meant affection. “I had a dad that was a piece of shit and a mom that was an angel. You’re getting hit on this side of the face and you’re getting stroked on this side of your face and sooner or later you can’t tell which one is which…. Sooner or later you don’t care which one is which”.
It wasn’t until later that I understood why these two separate TV incidents stayed with me. In a nutshell, they are examples of how we cannot control our lives. Some people believe in luck. Some people don’t; but what was interesting was that neither of the two people mentioned above made reference to either good luck or bad luck as having played a part in their respective journeys to opposite ends of life’s spectrum. The competition winner will make several million dollars and enjoy a reverence once reserved only for religious leaders. The latter said on TV that all he wanted to do was to die because he was so tired of having to constantly make decisions between the devil and the angel.
So what? Well,the guy from Louis Theroux’s programme had come to understand himself later in life, and had come to understand what he was and why he was like that, and he understood the “bad”. He didn’t blame anyone. He accepted the effect of the external factors of his upbringing and how they had shaped him and he lived accordingly – fighting himself and his past each day, seeking the end. This is how life is. We all have an upbringing we cannot change. We all have random experiences and events in our past that have informed us not only about ourselves but about how we choose to live, and often that choice is a daily one that is hard to make for complex chemical-socio reasons and we do not always get it right. This is how life is.
The competition winner, however, declared his win as evidence that someday in the future each of us will have our dream fulfilled before we die. This is a fallacy peddled by the entertainment industry. It fuels the frustrated millions who queue for auditions. It feeds the commercial drive for the next gadget, the next diet, the next “look”. It skews the vision that people have about the random effect of time and chance. Ultimately, it does nothing at all for the millions who have to live without opportunity, and for whom the declaration that their dream coming true is an inevitability simply robs them of the chance to make the best of themselves and what they have, whilst simultaneously stripping them of any enjoyment of life by dangling the unobtainable comparison in front of them.
Winning a competition is not defeating adversity. Living life in the right way, despite everything, is.