“What doesn’t kill ya…”

fighting

Remember when you’d get sick and some old codger would say ‘What doesn’t kill ya makes ya stronger.”?

That might be true with viruses and other annoying illnesses like the flu, but not so much with bear attacks and power tool accidents.

I always hated that saying because like most men (and my loving family will confirm), what I’m usually looking for is sympathy…and room service…and the TV remote.  Not life advice.

But it does get you thinking about what MIGHT kill you.

Statistics will tell you that men die younger than women, not because women have a stronger internal system, but because men are more likely to do something stupid enough to kill themselves, thus skewing the numbers in women’s favour.

Darwin’s theory of evolution was probably right.darwin  It’s not the fittest but the most adaptable to change that survive.  And men have a distinct disadvantage to women on that front.  It’s called testosterone.

Testosterone is what drives men to prove they don’t need to adapt, or be safe, or make good judgement decisions.

This is particularly true of younger men….and oh, boy! Do they prove it!

When I was a kid, I really didn’t think about dying at all – that’s what old people did.  When I was a bit older though, death-defying stunts became all too common, and I started to wonder what I’d do that would kill me.

I don’t think I ever deliberately pushed the boundaries of life and death, but I sure made the grim reaper sit up a few times.

grim

It’s funny how your perception of how you’ll die changes as you age.  When I was younger, I figured I’d go out in a blaze of glory strapped to a nuclear warhead and shot into a tanker full of fuel and the explosion would cause an earthquake and everyone would say ‘Wow, what an epic death!’.

Pretty stupid, eh?  I mean, how would I get a hold of a nuclear warhead?  Amazon wasn’t even invented yet.

After you’ve had a few close calls though, you figure that it’ll be something a lot less glamorous than nuclear warheads.  Probably a chainsaw accident or alcohol poisoning would be more likely.  Or an alcohol and chainsaw combination.

Now I’m beginning to understand that it’s not stupid testosterone-induced stunts,  but what’s gonna go wrong with my internal system that’ll finally take me out.

I seem to be spending more time at doctor’s appointments than seeing if I can beat that freight train to the level crossing with my car.

car

I find myself comparing notes with my brothers about colonoscopies and cardiologist results, and discussing the benefits of eating kale and drinking 4 liters of water a day.  I never thought we’d sit around comparing who had the most polyps.

I think my wife likes this change in me. She made this pact with me while I was asleep one night, that she had to ‘go’ first, so that she didn’t have to face old age alone.  I don’t recall agreeing to any such pact, and I don’t think there’s much retribution if I renege on it.

It does mean that I’m spending more time being careful than being carefree, but I’ve managed to put off joining a yoga class so far.

It could be that all those stupid human tricks I did when I was younger really did make me stronger, since they didn’t kill me.  I guess the old codger was right – what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.  Except for bears.  Bears will kill you.

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Of Course I’m Right! Just Ask Me.

smart

I carry a burden.

Sometimes, people ask for my opinion on stuff.  I can only assume that they intend to heed my advice, otherwise why would they ask?

That’s the burden.  My advice, answers, perspectives, thoughts, and even emotions can be a pretty serious contemplation – especially knowing that future generations will in some small way follow my lead.  That’s a lot for one man to carry.

On the upside, I always know I’m right, so there’s comfort in that.

Now, you might be saying ‘Wow – what an ego on that guy!‘, but that’s not true. In fact, I pride myself on my humility.

The thing is, if I thought I was wrong, I wouldn’t offer advice.  None of us would, unless you were some sort of psychopath and deliberately gave people bad advice just to mess with them.

Your opinion is the currency of how others appreciate your wisdom and intelligence.

There are times of course, that I may have no opinion at all.  If I was asked if I preferred knitting or crocheting, I would have no clue, since I neither knit nor crochet. In this case, I would be confident in saying ‘I have no opinion on that topic.  You should ask someone else’.

Even in saying that, I’m showing that I’m correct in my advice…to not take my advice.

See how that works?  But it’s not always that simple.  Sometimes, I will be asked for my advice then have it questioned.  I don’t know why.  If someone wanted my opinion, why then would they choose not to take it?

Let me give you a hypothetical example that in no way reflects any actual events.  Let’s pretend that my lovely wife is picking out a dress for a party.  She holds up 2 outfits and says; “The red dress, or the blue one?”  She’s asking my opinion, presumably because she understands that I have some fashion credibility and she clearly wants to look her best standing next to me.  I need all the help I can get.

I tell her “The blue one”.  That should be it, right?  Asked and answered.  Conversation over, decision made, I’ll be waiting in the car.  You’re welcome.

Really?”, she’ll then say.  What?  Why is she questioning my decision?  Even if I was’t paying attention or watching TV when she asked, I’d have at least a 50/50 shot at getting it right – pretty good odds.

Why the blue one?, she would go on to ask.  Uh, oh.  Not only has my input been brought into question, now I’m being asked to back up my decision with facts.

“Because I like the blue one on you”…I may leave out the fact that we’re already late and the blue one looks like it doesn’t need ironing.  This is how I balance promptness and self-preservation.

“But the red one goes better with my shoes”.  Now we’re treading into deep waters.  If I rescind my original decision about the blue dress, I soil my reputation as being decisive and correct, and my currency begins to devalue.  On the other hand, if I hold fast, we may miss the hors d’oeuvres altogether.

“Okay, the red dress does look better with those shoes.  Wear the red dress.”  I reply.  This doesn’t negate my previous position on the dress.  New information was brought to my attention after the fact, which changed my position.  Good judgement still intact, and my currency stays afloat.  My reputation for promptness however, will be pocked, but sometimes you just gotta go with it, right?

“But you liked the blue one better.”  Sheesh!

“Not with those shoes.”  I should play more chess – I’m a genius!

“Maybe I should wear the blue dress and pick out another pair of shoes”.  Touche! This is no longer an opportunity to offer input, but a battle of the minds.  I wished I had grabbed a snack when I had the chance.

This hypothetical tarry could go on for hours…hypothetically.  But that’s the point of my dilemma.  If I’m asked my opinion, I offer it and expect that to be taken with the utmost consideration. That’s not always the case.  Sometimes, my opinion is nothing more than an opportunity to be an external ‘internal voice’ to be questioned, rebutted, and occasionally outright rejected.

That’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re always right.  You put real thought into offering your input.  When it’s questioned or rejected, it makes you just a bit less sure of yourself.  And that’s dangerous.  The acceptance of your opinion bolsters your currency.  If it’s discarded, it makes you less valuable, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, if you know you’re always right – like I do – maybe it’s more of a reflection on those who reject your input that on your wisdom (previous hypothetical scenario notwithstanding). But that’s just my opinion.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, my wife wore a black dress, looked beautiful in it, and we missed the hors d’oeuvres.  Hypothetically.