Up, Down, and Facebook

Writing
a blog runs the continual risk of becoming a self-indulgent pastime. Yes,
anyone can use the internet to publish their thoughts, but most people
don’t have anything unique or interesting to share. I usually
don’t, explaining why I haven’t written much lately. Repeating
yourself doesn’t normally serve a useful purpose. Still, I do
occasionally have a thought worth sharing, usually in the dead of night while
waiting for Morpheus to return. I seem to have my most lucid thoughts then,
which says why so few of them reach my blog. I am not able to get up record
them.

 

I am
hardly being original in observing that people’s lives resemble the
nightly procession of stars in the sky. Each has its rise, ascent, zenith,
descent, and setting. I’m also not alone when I note with some melancholy
that my own star didn’t rise as high as I would’ve liked. I think
relatively few have the luxury of looking back on their achievements with
complete satisfaction. Someone wiser than I am said that those without regret
haven’t really lived, and I suppose that’s true given that making
mistakes is inherent to being human.

 

What
brings all of this philosophy to mind is that I recently joined Facebook. I
joined to facilitate my search for a new dog with the qualifications I wanted.
In the process, though, I came across a lot of people I used to know, including
a large clump of former high school classmates. I’m amazed—and a
bit sobered—by how well many of them have done.

 

One,
let’s just call him Ed, is finishing up the career I would’ve given
anything for. Ed is now a Navy test pilot after spending decades on active duty
in F-14s (my favorite bird, the “titanium turkey”) and then the
F/A-18. Of course, I couldn’t have been a fighter pilot even without
Cerebral Palsy; nearsightedness runs amok in my family! Still, Ed, I hope you
realize that you’re one fortunate little primate!
J

 

Ed is
just one success story from my past. Facebook has numerous others, and
it’s all too easy to draw an erroneous conclusion from that. My
accomplishments don’t compare well to these former classmates,
that’s true. However, I was the only one in my graduating class with a
major disability, and I have to remind myself of that. My successes do fare
well among people with similar disabilities, but I dislike using that metric. I
have never regarded myself as a disabled person, only a person with
disabilities. While the difference is probably lost on most people, it’s
important to me. Plus, Facebook is a self-selecting population by its nature.
Only people who have achieved some degree of personal accomplishment are likely
to bother to join Facebook. Perhaps just the fact that I had the ability and
the capability to join counts as a minor positive note.

 

Yes, my
life has slowed in recent years, enough for there to be more than sufficient
time for introspection and second-guessing my past. Would I still be working if
I was a kinder, gentler version of myself? Would I still be married? It is very
tempting to think so, but then I start looking at the objective facts. I wasn’t
laid off until Shell started shifting entire groups and departments to cheaper
labor overseas. Virtually the entire IT staff stateside was eventually axed so I
was history no matter how charming I might have been. I am simply not
management material.

 

On the
domestic front, I have had the pleasure of a few people who were true gems, and
I miss some of them even today. Yet, one of the realities of my life has been
that I require assistance with almost everything, and that leads to a great temptation
to see a single person as the general solution to all of my needs. Of course
they can’t be, but that trap has snared me more times than I care to
admit. Anyway, people have to run their own lives, and the realities and
limitations of dealing with someone who has significant impairments are not
things most people can accept long-term because of the interference.

 

That’s
one reason why I truly love my dogs. They aren’t merely pets, but working
partners who devote themselves to helping me in whatever way they can. That’s
why I do everything I can for them in return. Even those who don’t like
me give me credit for doing that much. Personally, I feel it’s the least I
can do for my dogs in return for their selfless dedication.

 

After I left
Shell, I did everything I could to market Xpress-It, the assistive
communication software I developed while at Shell. Believe me, that whole
sorted travail is amply archived elsewhere in this blog page. The bottom line
is that it wasn’t enough to just build the better mousetrap. You also
must find a way to infiltrate what turned to be a very closed market. Since I am
way too brash to do sales pitches, I needed to finance a sales force to wine
and dine the relatively few decision-makers in the assistive and augmentative communication
market. I simply couldn’t afford that so I am stuck with Xpress-It for my
own use.

 

So here I
am, sitting here realizing that my star is sliding toward the horizon. I would’ve
liked for Xpress-It to be my legacy, but that’s not going to happen. The IRS
is going to get my house after I’m gone simply because of the stupid
employer taxes I get charged for having caregivers. Then again, I have no heirs
so I don’t really care. And, since Fate ruled out children for me, this
blog will be my only legacy. Hmm. I don’t know how I feel about that.

Advertisements