I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal responsibility — and not just because I’m currently in the middle of a complete cluster thanks to my landlord (if by “land,” of course, I mean “slum”)… though that helps.
Consider the list below and ask yourself this question: What do the following things have in common?
1. An unruly, sociopath child
2. A controlling, psychotic ex or similarly qualified current partner
4. My landlord
5. Peter Pan
My answer (which may, of course, differ from yours): They all have the potential to grow up. But the more interesting question is, will they? What will it take for Nos. 1 through 7 to have a sense of personal responsibility? And by “personal,” I don’t mean “just you.” True responsibility, in my estimation, means that you are responsible for your person — which means you not only take care of yourself, but you’re mindful of what you do and its potential to impact others around you — for better and worse.
Let me just say I will be the first to tell you I don’t claim to be mature. I don’t claim this because I want to continue to make jokes about things that emanate from my nether regions — like farts, for one. This is personal choice, though, that requires the level of awareness that one is making a personal choice. I will claim to have that amount of awareness applicable to this particular circumstance.
For some of the others enumerated above, however, I can’t claim the same. Some, such as No. 1, have good reasons for being oblivious — like being 7 years old. Others, not so much. Regardless, though, I am of the mind — in a very anti-Zen way, I am sad to admit — that there will always be some unnecessary drama in the world causing people to suffer, and there will always subsequently be someone at fault, someone who didn’t think through the implications of their freely chosen actions, someone to blame. This is where personal responsibility comes in and is extremely important. It’s also extremely noticeable when lacking.
If you’re the proud parent of a No. 1, it’s time for you to remove your head from your sphincter and realize you are doing something wrong — and not just by your child, but by all those lives your child, like the plague, will touch throughout its life. I can’t tell you what it is, but kids are smart, and if you’re lucky, they’ll tell you themselves… presuming you haven’t warped them beyond repair yet. Time to man up and take responsibility for the damage you’ve done and try to make sure your kids don’t go out and shoot someone later.
If you’re No. 2, I’m sure you have plenty of excuses as to why you are the way you are — none of which, of course, have anything to do with you, because you are the ultimate finger-pointing master. They generally, though, revolve around some wrong done to you when you were a No. 1. “My mom drank.” “My dad beat me.” Yada, yada. Perhaps those things happened (presuming you aren’t also a compulsive liar like some of my exes were), and if they did, that’s unfortunate. But notice that not everyone who suffered those things turned out to be an (insert expletive) like you. Sorry, but if you’re over 18, we qualify you as an adult in this country, so get a shrink and get on with your life. Oh, and while you’re at it, get out of mine.
But wait. Before we move on from this subject, you may be asking yourself, “What does it mean if I’m the long-suffering current or former partner of a No. 2? Surely I wasn’t to blame.” You won’t get off so easy, either, my friend. No, it’s not your fault your boyfriend hit you… but it is your fault that you came back, that you tolerated any kind of abuse, that you didn’t like yourself enough for whatever reasons (typically similar to the No. 2’s excuses for being an (insert expletive)) that you allowed someone to treat you as less than human. Respect yourself, and you’ll find that either A) others respect you in return or B) you kick others to the curb where they belong.
And now we’ve reached No. 3s. Some adults do grow up. And some never grow up. And then they have children that either don’t grow up themselves and continue the cycle of stupid or adopt the phrase “I will never be like my mother/father” and proceed to do or be the exact opposite of what the resented parent did or is. Neither is great because they’re extremes, and besides, no one’s ever entirely wrong about everything in life…
Except No. 4. That I maintain. If an adult is old enough to purchase property but can’t understand that when you buy a piece of property and then allow other people to live in it, you have a responsibility and obligation to maintain said property as habitable, you are undeserving of that property, of any tenants, and — most importantly — of the money said tenants are putting food on your table with. This isn’t Pee-Wee’s Playhouse; these are people’s lives, time, finances, energy, and belongings you’re messing with. If you want to be negligent and irresponsible, fine — Vegas is the right place for it, I suppose — but don’t make anyone else suffer or, even worse, pay you for it.
Don’t worry. No. 4 should’ve received my breach of contract letter this afternoon. (Perhaps that’s why we finally have people working to clean up her mess.) And I’ve learned my lesson, too — my own personal piece of responsibility here. I trusted a property manager I’ve worked with before. Unfortunately, I didn’t consider deeply enough the profoundly inappropriate relationship created when said property manager decided to manage a townhouse owned by one of her employee’s friends. Past behavior unfortunately does not dictate current or future behavior, no matter how much anyone hopes it will or wants it to.
So I skipped right to No. 6, I suppose, but who can pick on Peter Pan? I mean, to contradict a lot of what I said herein — because hey, that’s what writers do, right, which is why we’re perceived as “complex” and “deep” — he’s what we all wish we could be in some ways. Plus, he’s fictional, so I’d kind of be wasting my breath going off about him. But if you want to be jealous, point your finger in the direction of the creator, J. M. Barrie.
Damn you, J. M. Barrie! Why can’t we be Peter too? He’s just larger than life — especially in this photo.
Wouldn’t life be so much easier if none of us ever had to grow up?
Truth is, probably not. I mean, someone has to cook for us, clothe us and all that jazz. But I’ll admit, I’d really rather just make fart jokes and not waste my time internally debating whom I should have on my social media pages and what level of personal responsibility I need to have in this increasingly unprivate world we live in, given that I’m not yet willing to relinquish said fart jokes but still want to appear upstanding and professional — at least to some.
::sigh:: Such problems in the world…