Surprisingly, people don’t suck

Extremes aren’t my thing.  Stay the course. Steady as she goes. Peaceful equanimity. That’s the stuff of my day-to-day, year-to-year existence.  Let the other people have the drama. Humm-baby was Roger Craig’s motto. Works for me too.

Life has conspired with chaos to make such a philosophy inoperative lately. That’s OK. It happens. I’m fortunate that is hasn’t happened to me more than it has before now. We all get a turn on on this roller coaster. Buy the ticket, take the ride.  It’s merely been my turn.

But a funny thing happened on the way to oblivion.  At the exact moment when I figured that the abyss and I would stare at each other for a while and agree to sink into one another, a bunch of people decided that they wouldn’t tolerate me doing that. Indeed, my long-held belief that people are, at best, self-interested and more often than not fairly awful has been seriously tested by several great people who have been fantastic to me lately.

Fantastic in different ways.

Some of them have taken it upon themselves to nurse me back to mental health, as though I were a patient in a mental ICU ward.  I appreciate them so much for they obviously care so much. And while the reality is that my emotional paralysis only lasted a few moments and I don’t really need that kind of attention anymore, it has been heartening to see how much they care.  Those people understand my past and appreciate the gravity of recent events in ways that no one else could.

In contrast, there have been some people who have made it their mission to make me understand that my future is bright and that I need to be thrust into it now. Yesterday! Move on, lad, because that’s where your promise lies!  I am thankful for them too. Because, even if I’m not quite ready for that, I appreciate their optimism and I know on some level that I’ll be there soon.  Those folks represent everything I want to be and know I will be some day.

But at the moment, the present seems most important to me. In the midst of all of this drama, humm-baby normalcy has been really hard to come by. And I’ve pounced on any chance I’ve had to get some of it.

My kids provide it in spades and I thank the cosmos for them. There’s nothing that keeps a person from disappearing into their own navel or their own ego like a couple of rugrats who only want you in the here and now. I worry about them so much these days, but they are actually my center of gravity and have been a greater source of strength to me than I’ve been to them. I won’t tell them that now because it’s no good to lay that kind of weight on them, but one day they’ll understand just how important they’ve been for me.

But it hasn’t been just them.  There are a couple of people, and they know who they are, who have helped to make me feel human lately.  People with whom I can just chat and bullshit and let the world wash over me the way I used to let it wash over me.  Who don’t see me as damaged goods or as some repository of hope and future bliss. They’ve been indispensable because they have made it clear that’s it’s OK to not have any answers or plans. That right now – for whatever it is – is important and valuable too.

To them and everyone, I want to say thank you. And to say that, despite the fact that you’ve forced me to have to consider a new personal philosophy that doesn’t involve human beings being total scum – and understanding that new personal philosophies require a lot of work –  I’m grateful for you being in and around my life.

We have no idea where we’re going in this life. We rarely know how to get there.  All that we can really hope for is some good companionship along the way. And I got it, baby. I got it.

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the national baseball writer for NBCSports.com. He writes about things other than sports at Craigcalcaterra.com. He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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