Exercises in Futility

I used to know a guy who would crash into things every time he entered a darkened room. I mean, every single time. So one day with the lights on, I asked him to move through the room as if the lights were off. He strode in no differently than he would if the lights were on. Arms down at his sides, same speed, everything. Because of that, he frequently walked right into walls and furniture, if he didn’t trip over something and wind up on the floor, that is.

Then I got up and showed him how I walk through a dark room, although it astounds me that I had to do so to this very day. I said, “First, I stand on the threshold and picture where all the furniture is, and where I want to go. Then I put my hands out in front of me and sweep them back and forth as I slowly walk to make sure I’m not about to bump into anything. Then I lift my toes while walking so as not to trip.”

None of those were things he had ever attempted to do up to that point. He just seemed to accept the fact that when he walked into a room, he was bound to crash. I don’t know why. Maybe he didn’t think he deserved better. Maybe he didn’t believe he had any control over his destiny.

I find that to be quite maddening. For God’s sake, mitigate your damage whenever you can. Be proactive. Show some initiative. If you have a problem, do all that you can to at least attempt to solve it.

I’m firmly convinced that if the two of us were standing in a field and someone started shooting at us, he’d stand there waiting for the bullet while I was busy diving for the nearest ditch. Why wouldn’t you do that? I don’t get it.

I also once knew a man who lived in his chicken coop for two years because the roof on his house was leaking. So he fixed up the chicken coop. He even piled bales of hay against the walls for insulation. I asked, “Why didn’t you just repair the roof of the house?” He said, “I was too busy fixing up the chicken coop.”

That utter lack of common sense makes me want to chew gravel.

Is there some concept of long-term planning that is missing in these people? Do they set themselves up for failure intentionally? Or do they just not care?

I know another guy who hasn’t paid taxes in at least 5 years. Apparently he’s too busy putting out the short-term fires in his life to look up and see the raging inferno on the horizon. Eventually he’ll wind up in jail for tax evasion, and somehow he’ll convince himself that that’s someone else’s fault. But he’ll still be the one in jail.

Maybe the worst mistake of all is even trying to understand these people. Maybe that’s the true exercise in futility.


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