I’m feeling less-than-prolific today. It could be the 12-hour workday yesterday. It could be the crazy Christmas shopping expedition I went on Sunday (seriously, swearing off malls and my credit card for a while). It could be that I just simply have a list of good blog ideas, but nothing overly enlightening to say about any of them right now.
But whenever I’m feeling less-than-prolific, I can revert to a trick I learned in grammar school when I had to write in my marble notebook journal every morning: reflect on a question. This time, though, the questions are coming from the mind of Mr. Chuck Klosterman.
Klosterman is one of my favorite authors. His witty, sarcastic outlook on all things pop culture has provided me with many laughs and humorous quotes (including one entire story about the Knicks and sportswriting that is just full of hilarious moments; it’s, sadly, not on on this list), and I highly recommend you pick up one of his books or find some of his writing online. His book IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas begins each piece with a quirky, yet sometimes serious, hypothetical question, and for the next 15 days (or so…give or take weekends probably), I will answer them. Because that’s what I want to do.
By the way, you should answer, too.
1. Think about your life. Think about the greatest thing you have ever done, and think about the worst thing you have ever done. Try to remember what motivated you to do the former, and try to remember what motivated you to do the latter… How similar are these two motives?
Now here’s a tricky one. I’m a 21-year old college graduate. I don’t have a particularly out-of-the-ordinary, exciting life. By that I mean that my life is fun and exciting — but not in a way that’s any different from anyone else’s life, really. The “greatest thing I’ve ever done” probably falls somewhere along the lines of graduating college or a journalistic moment — again, nothing particularly extraordinary. It’s not like I’ve cured cancer or anything. As for the “worst thing I’ve ever done”? I’m not a particularly diabolical person, so I haven’t ruined someone’s life by exacting revenge for some wrong committed towards me or something like that. If I can extrapolate and replace “worst” with “stupidest” or “most selfish,” then I have a couple moments to choose from, but still nothing overly horrible.
What motivated me to do these things? I wanted the best for myself. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. I didn’t want to fail. I wanted things to go my way. Long story short, my motivation was myself and my happiness — maybe even at the expense of someone else’s happiness.
It’s not as awful as it sounds. Graduating college (early!) made my friends and family proud. I hope those journalistic moments resulted in stories that informed people or made them smile. And those stupid, selfish moments? It’s not like I intentionally thought them out and planned to hurt someone. I told you, I’m not nearly that diabolical. I also have a tendency to jump head-first into things without considering all the important information. And when I realized the hurt feelings I’d caused, I quickly tried to make things right (with varying success).
But I don’t think it’s bad to be selfish sometimes. I’m certainly not a selfish person (I don’t think), but I know when I have to look out for myself and put myself first. I had this discussion in some class, and I think we came to a pretty solid conclusion, one that I think most of society accepts: People need to consider other people, and they should try to help out in whatever way they can when someone encounters hardships. Help can mean everything from donating money to a charity to just listening to a friend and giving advice. But you can’t go so far that your happiness, health and wellbeing are compromised. If you do, you’re not going to get the satisfaction you should from the good that you’ve done. You just have to find the balance.