Responsibility

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Maybe that’s why I prefer a standing desk…

On my whirlwind weekend trip, I had the chance to visit Teddy’s birthplace in NYC and it’s gotten me thinking about the man quite a bit since. The idea of responsibility for one’s own actions is something I’ve wrestled with throughout my life and then found neatly tied up in a bow with this quote.

I don’t want to get into a larger discussion about society and how we view the struggles of others. I’m not qualified to lecture on the difficulties of others because they’re not my own and I don’t have the time this morning to delve into a serious research project. So, at the risk of getting Teddy’s ghost angry for choosing ease over strenuousness, I’m taking the quick way out and only speaking of myself.

Without a doubt, I can say that the quote above reflects my life pretty accurately. Were there external forces acting on my life? Yes. Did things go wrong that were beyond my control? Definitely. Were they the majority of my life? No.

By and large, I’ve been responsible for the life I’ve lived so far. And it’s been a good one. Considering some of my own missteps and bad habits, you could make the argument that where I’ve ended up constitutes an embarrassment of riches. In my case, the person causing a lot of the troubles has been the one I shave with in the mornings.

There’s a story about Hunter S. Thompson that I love where he’s sitting at a table and knocks a drink off the edge with the back of his hand. Before it can hit the ground, he’s swooped in with the same hand and caught the glass without spilling the contents. No matter how you slice it, that’s incredible reflexes – especially so when you consider he was probably drunk and hallucinating a bit at the time. The person watching was amazed and complimented him on his reaction time. Hunter mumbled something along the lines of “Well, let’s remember who causes most of the accidents around here in the first place”.

Maybe we’d all do to remember who makes most of the messes in our lives to start with before getting too high and mighty about our successes.

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