Marty must have been a butt-ugly baby.
Now, I’m not going to pretend I arrived in this world as a teeny-tiny spitting image of Brad Pitt (who I understand emerged from the womb with chiseled abs and a sparkling full set of smiling teeth). Heck, depending on who you ask, I’m still a good 50-yard walk away from being good visual company. I’m OK with that. I’m not going to quit my job and launch a line of self-portraits. We play the cards we’re dealt. Now, I don’t really mean to single Marty out, but to react with such sharpness and an “unsubscribe” request to a simple and funny question and, albeit unintentionally, Bill’s opening the door to a very personal and honest place, is confounding. It’s also a good place to start a conversation.
David McCollough, Jr. walked into a firestorm the other day too. If the name isn’t ringing a bell, Google “You are Not Special Speech” and set aside a couple hours to dive into the mess. If you’re short on time here’s the gist: McCollough surprised the Wellesley High School (MA) Class of 2012 with a commencement address that – despite a whole lot of other additional brilliance – dared to include the following message to the graduating seniors: “You are not special”.
If you read the speech, learn more about McCollough, and gain an understanding of the context and audience, you will recognize the brilliance of the address. Beyond its eloquence (side note: I wonder how many of the hundreds of seniors were lost at words like “sacrosanct” and “auspicious” and mention of Sophocles), the address was intelligently simple, funny and honest, and opened the door a crack to really evaluate feelings, society, motivation and life itself. Like Bill’s question. Albeit without the eloquence which isn’t really Bill’s cup of tea if you know what I mean.
Gary Sankary raises his share of ire and eyebrows. After you’re done reading the “You are Not Special” speech, Sankary’s blog, “Old and in the Way” needs to be your next stop.
Sankary, who happens to be a local and a friend to Lazy Lightning, has this nugget right in his bio: “I often give my kids sage and wise advice followed up by ‘dumbass’.” I really don’t have any actual evidence of this, but I bet Sankary loved the McCollough speech. I do know that whatever his reaction, he’d have something poignant to say about it – some funny, honest, and simple commentary and, if you’re damned lucky, offered with a spectacular plate of BBQ served lakeside. It would also end up self-effacing and somehow, I think, a beautiful testament of his love for his wife and kids and life because, in the end, that’s what he seems to be about.
Unpretty as they are to some, we all have these kinds of thoughts and they deserve to see more light of day if for no other reason than to give others permission to share theirs. Though it may come back to haunt me in the form of a long, awkward explanation someday, I’ll admit that, of my three, I do have a favorite kid (OK, it changes week-to-week and I’m not saying who), I occasionally can’t stand the thought of being a parent, and I harbor bitterness about how much I’ve sacrificed of my own personal self to be a “good parent”.
And – yeah – I think newborns are ugly if not from a pure visual sense, but from the angle of what an absolute mess they are to parent both physically and mentally.
Posting that question within hours of the birth of a child isn’t “phoning it in” or judgment. It’s a testament to being true to oneself – maybe in a state of sleep-deprived weakness – but honest and revealing nonetheless and a good invitation for others to evaluate themselves and their thoughts.
What did you think of the “You are Not Special” address? Do you think it’s therapeutic or shameful to share honest thoughts when they aren’t “pretty”? People without kids: Why do you hate children so much? As Bill would say, “whatever you have to say about this, go ahead and comment on.”