Thursday, August 16, 2012

Repaving the Road to Hell

Can I propose that we change an old adage? Do I have that authority? See, here’s the thing: I think a lot about the road to hell. Hear me out. I don’t think a lot about hell. I just think about the road that leads there, and I think that limiting it to being paved with “good intentions” is a little bit myopic or narrow-minded or hindsight’s-20-20 or something. There are a lot of things that lead to hell. Whether that’s hell on earth or The Other One.

Why do I spend so much time thinking about what it feels like to be miserable? Because I’m perky, fun, optimistic, all that. But in addition to those things, I’m also kinda stupid and self-centered, and so, I find misery in small things. Which people warn you about; they do. Don’t sweat it, they say. It’s SMALL. It’s not important. It’s not even about you.

But here’s what they don’t say: The small, unimportant things make up most of your life. They make up 90% of your day, your week, your month. The 10% of your life that is … let’s see … what can we name it … exciting, fun, happy, smooth … is the stuff that’s truly small. I mean, in terms of time spent actually doing it, it’s small.

Today I experienced – all day, not just once – numerous events wherein my assumptions caused me a lot of misery. And if you look up “miserable” in a thesaurus, it’ll probably list “in hell” as a synonym. Especially if you look in The Thesaurus of Terms Primarily Used by Melodramatic Middle Class Moms, which is my go-to guide.

So, back to my original rant … This whole thing about the road to hell being paved with good intentions is crap. The road to hell ain’t paved with any one thing. It’s paved with a lot of stuff. Perhaps good intentions are part of it, but I’m in my mid-30s now, and I doubt there are very many good intentions left in the world in general. But I don’t doubt the road to hell, so I’ve decided I need to repave it because the infamous good intentions have developed pot holes and cracks, and I want to give those blemishes – or at least one – a name.

Here I go …

One of the primary ingredients that make up the road to hell is ASSUMPTIONS. (Good assumptions & bad ones both count.)  

Why do humans still make assumptions? Shouldn’t this proclivity have been naturally selected out of us? I mean, think about it: About whom do you make the most assumptions in your life (stereotypes notwithstanding)? 

 We assume the most about the people we know (and love) best.

Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” –Henry Winkler

And this, my friends, is one of many things that creates misery for us. I’m here to bear witness to the fact that for me and almost every other person I talk to in depth, our personal everyday "hells" are very often caused by assumptions that something would or would not happen. Assuming that someone can read your mind, for instance. Or, assuming that people have brains in their heads. Small things, really. (See, we're back to small things again.)

I won’t bore you with a list of my stupid, horrific assumptions from today, but I challenge you to think about the last time you were angry, frustrated, or disappointed: I’d bet our one bathroom (not the whole house, mind you) that you were less-than-pleased because you assumed something about somebody or some situation that didn’t pan out.

But ...

As I sat down tonight to write, after ensuring that all boys were in bed snoring, it occurred to me that maybe the road to hell should not be repaved, but rather, renamed.  Maybe all of this misery, caused by assumptions, is not leading to hell at all.  And maybe that's why we haven't evolved out of the habit.  Perhaps I shouldn't even be writing about The Road to Hell.  Maybe it's just The Road We're On.  

I have learned throughout my life as a composer chiefly through my mistakes and pursuits of false assumptions, not by my exposure to founts of wisdom and knowledge. --Igor Stravinsky 

Now, I don't want to get all "it's-not-about-the-destination-it's-about-the-journey" on you, but it is something to think about as we move onward and upward in our non-unassuming lives:  Maybe incorrect assumptions are just life lessons.

Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. –Adrienne Rich

Either way, I had a bad day chiefly because I assumed some stuff about some people, and I wanted y'all to know.  Because, you know, this blog is

That's all for now.  As you were.

1 comment:

Boogie's Mom said...

Preach! Daniel said something really rude last week and in my lecture to him I told him he was being rude and "do not assume that!" His response was: "I'm not assuming, I'm just sayin. Mommy? What does assume mean?" Sighhh