Friday, April 15, 2011

common sense ... aaarrrgh!

WASHINGTON (AP) - The best solution to the problem of sleepy air traffic controllers is more sleeping on the job, scientists say.
But that would be a radical change for the Federal Aviation Administration. Current regulations forbid sleeping at work, even during breaks. Controllers who are caught can be suspended or fired. -- Complete story

Funny how what makes perfectly good and obvious sense so often faces an uphill battle, whether personally or more generally.

Good, sensible advice. How easy it is to come by. How hard it may be to put into action. Everyone is full of good advice and is usually eager and willing to 'share' it. But follow it? -- that's another matter.

Yesterday, I went to my younger son's field meet. He was participating in the shot put and discus. He is pretty good at shot put. But on his first of three throws yesterday, he threw the ball out of bounds. It infuriated and disappointed him and I could hear him cussing a blue streak as he went to retrieve his misguided effort. He was talking himself into self-castigation. It took energy ... and simultaneously seemed to forgive his mistake: If he could cuss himself out, no one else could tell him he fucked up. He was his own worst critic ... and that criticism may have seemed to ameliorate the mistake. If he whipped himself hard enough, maybe someone would come along and say, "There, there -- it's not all that bad" and pat him on the head...and he could forgive his mistake instead of owning it.

All of this is as human as it is misguided. So this morning (everyone's got advice to give, if not follow) I told him that every time he felt a hissy fit coming on, every time he felt like whipping himself as a means of finding some sort of forgiveness, every time he wanted someone else to live his life ... whether in math or shot put or with some new girlfriend ... every time he felt a self-flagellation exercise looming ... before anything else ... before he got up a head of self-satisfied self-castigation ... I wanted him to smile. Just once, smile. Practice smiling ... and then going into the self-castigation schtick if need be. Practice and practice and practice some more.

Practice shot put. Practice math. Practice the wily realms of boys and girls. Practice smiling first. Own it. Responsible people are happy people. Irresponsible people are a dime a dozen.

Anyway, I was eager and willing to offer my advice -- advice I can follow sometimes and sometimes not. I'm as irresponsible as the next person. Sometimes it makes me smile.

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