Not really. Google image Glenrio, Texas. It looks like the place you are sent to if God isn’t pleased with you after you die. Glenrio is just the middle point between Los Angeles, CA, and Nashville, TN. I have witnessed the two opposite ends of the spectrum from living in California and Tennessee. They are two seemingly dichotomous states, but both have their pros and cons, such as anything else. Where is the middle ground? Where is the middle of the boat? We need to find where exactly that is when caught in two minds that oppose each other. Parents who think they are the greatest parents to ever exist typically turn out to be quite awful. On the contrary, parents who think they have been terrible to their kids typically are far better than they give themselves credit for. You might think you prefer the latter, but that line of thinking can lead to incorrectly assessing any given situation, which in turn could lead to bad parenting. One-hundred percent accuracy is never achievable. The middle of the spectrum is as close as we can get.
Perhaps not in bigger cities like Nashville or Knoxville, but the way people present themselves in Tennessee is freaking ghastly. According to a “Statista” article from 2019, 36.5% of adults in Tennessee are classified as obese. That is a fat number. Tennessee ranks 5th in the United States when it comes to adult obesity. I’m not judging. Check out this next stat to which I am a contributor to: Tennessee ranks 40th in the dental hygiene department in the United States. Only ten other states have worse teeth than Tennessee. California happens to rank worse than Tennessee in dental health, but we have to consider the population. There are 39 million *documented* people living in California, compared to the 7 million people who live in Tennessee. All of this is to say that Tennesseans don’t seem to give a shit about how they look. “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.” At least that is what Deion Sanders thinks. He might be right, but it is not obvious to me that people in Tennessee feel particularly bad about themselves despite the fact that they look pretty mangled.
You can kind of see where I am going with this. I wanted to write a piece about how people in California, although they look tremendous, are not as happy as people in Tennessee, but the statistics I’ve come across do not back me up. Suicide rates are very low in California, and it ranks 4th in the United States in happiness according to “WalletHub,” which bases its data on emotional and physical well-being, work environment, and community. None of this data correlates with any anecdotal evidence that I have, which admittedly means fuck-all, but it also does not correlate with the observable evidence we have seen from the past few years. It seems like Californians are pissed off about living there, and a lot of them have it on the docket to get the hell out as soon as possible. Perhaps this apparent lack of happiness is all due to legislation, but I don’t know. Maybe when they fill out these surveys, they are just lying. What it seems to me is that Californians are very into themselves. I feel comfortable saying that because, at the end of the day, I am a Californian who can be pretty into himself. That does not have to be such a bad thing, but when one becomes so self-conscious about how they look, they tend to drip with insecurity and insincerity. Doesn’t that seem a more accurate take on the Californian state of mind?
So, there are two things in-play (In-play might be incorrect. It might just be in play, but I’ve lost too many parlays whilst following MLB Gamecasts): 1) At least on a superficial level, Californians look better than Tennesseans, and because they look better, they feel better. However, while a certain level of self-consciousness is good and probably needed, the Californian generally pushes this self-consciousness into self-infatuation, resulting in a constant battle with insecurity. And 2) Tennesseans do not care at all what they look like, probably don’t feel great about themselves, which results in things like obesity and poor dental health, but due to this lack of self-consciousness, they are instead able to care more about others and their communities rather than themselves. I’m freestyle typing here, but all of that seems right to me. Two dichotomous states, two opposing ideologies it seems, but both with something that the other needs. Where is the middle of the boat?
There is a striking difference in philosophy between the two states as well. Have you all heard the story of the jackass who fell into the ditch? Well, donkey, but jackass works better. One day a jackass had fallen into a ditch and was struggling to get out. A man had spotted the fallen jackass and stared at the situation while thinking to himself, “How did this jackass fall into this ditch?” Shortly after, a second man arrived at the scene. He asked the first man with a voice full of panic, “What the hell are you doing!?” The first man replied, “I’m trying to figure out how this jackass fell into the ditch!” The second man replied, “It doesn’t matter how the jackass got in the ditch, son! Get him out!” After their brief discussion, the two men pulled the jackass out of the ditch. The very next day, the same thing happens. Same jackass, same ditch. Another man arrived at the scene and stopped to wonder how the jackass fell into the ditch. Again, a second man arrived and yelled, “What the hell are you doing!?” Wash, rinse, repeat.
Californians are the people who want to figure out why the jackass fell into the ditch, but they are so busy trying to figure that out that the jackass is never saved. Tennesseans don’t give a shit. Get the jackass out of the ditch. They do get him out, but because they don’t care to figure out why, the jackass continues to fall right back into the same ditch. Out here in Tennessee, I swear to you that I have put together some very articulate and profound shares about recovery. I’m not just putting myself over. This is what they’ve told me. You know what, though? Most of what I say appears to fall on deaf ears. Sure, maybe that is because newcomers don’t listen, but it also might be because they don’t give a shit about what I say. My shares in Tennessee get over when I share about what it is that I do. In California, I could sit around for hours and pontificate with people about recovery. It can be extremely useful to find a way to articulate how things went wrong and how we should behave going forward. But, if there is no action, if we don’t get the jackass out of the ditch, all we are doing is talking shit. Guess what happens, though, if you just continue to get the jackass out of the ditch without figuring out why? The jackass falls into the ditch so many times that eventually, we just say, “Fuck it. Leave the ass in there.” Two dichotomous states, two opposing ideologies, both with something to offer the other.
How do we find our way to Glenrio, Texas? How do we find the middle of the spectrum? Take care of our bodies, but let’s not stare in the fuckin’ mirror and jerk off. Eat Taco Bell once in a while. Take care of ourselves for the sole purpose of taking care of others. Brush our (my) teeth twice a day, floss.. Ugh. Flossing is fucking annoying. Okay, fine. Just don’t smile often. If you must smile, use the black and white Instagram filter. Kidding, of course. Read as many quality books as we can, but with the understanding that reading without incorporation means nothing. Learn, but do. Hopefully, these are some of the things that we can find in Glenrio.
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