Pain is Life, Get Used to It: Know, Not Fear, That Someday You’re Going to Die

CLEVELAND – Ever have the kind of day where you’d rather stab yourself in the eye with a rusty spoon than listen to any more excuses, bullshit or equally infuriating negativity our insipid, mundane life has to offer? Then welcome. This is me at my most nihilistic.

Yes, I’ve been under the weather lately (honestly, I never get sick — but when I do it’s obscene. Ugh). So perhaps that’s part of the equation. But I’m not talking about sickness.

I’m talking about being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Life is cruel, indifferent, deaf. Sometimes you have to shout, cry out, stomp your feet. Whatever necessary to shake it off and move on. So I am. Via another rant.


Of year after year after year of hearing NO from others, and especially an industry I love, an industry I have sacrificed countless hours, relationships, blood, sweat and tears for — only to continually be overlooked, disregarded, disappointed, jaded and patronized. Too smart. Too enthusiastic. Overqualified. Underqualified. Too young. Know-it-all. Entitled. Cocky.

Of Excuses

>’What have I done to deserve you?’ (relationships, breakups). So rich I can’t even comment further.

>’It’s tough out there… (others referring to the economy — to which I am unequivocally allergic and  intolerant. The economy does NOT determine our destiny. WE do)

>’It’s not your time yet’ (if not now, then when? If not you, then who?) And how is it everyone else seems to know what’s best for you?! Wish I was that lofty and special. When everything’s superlative, nothing is.

>’Everyone has to pay dues.’ No shit, Sherlock. I don’t care how old you are, age is just a number. I care about who you are and how you have lived, how you treat others. It’s called experience, integrity –character.  There are some who never amount to anything in life, never move beyond the maturity or mentality of a two-year-old.

Get over yourself.

When you’ve faced your mortality and pain like others do you might actually have something to say. Polarizing? Yes. This is me caring.

Of Clichés

‘There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel’ or ‘It’s all been done before.’  Profound, tell me more.

And most nauseating: Maybe you’re not trying hard enough. Seriously? What about those who say don’t try too hard, don’t care too much? Again, all too inane to further comment.

impressionism painting

Tell Me About It

Every f(expletive)-ing day, myself and countless others choose to get out of bed and face the same joke, the same lie:

A lie that says if you’re a first-generation degree holder in your family, you’ll break a cycle of financial stasis, income barrier. And not be wasting away in a part-time, minimum-wage job, isolated from loved ones, faces or places you call home and wandering a tired godforsaken place, people and cesspool of limitations, wondering how much longer until reprieve, some break that just might be deserved at some time or place in history.

A lie that says if you finance your own education, you’ll reap the benefits of easier transportation (a car perhaps), a better job and quality of life.

A lie that says you’ll be okay, because you know what it’s like to be on your own since 15, to have to fight and scrimp and scrape for everything you have and are. 

A lie that says if you work over 10 years in the same industry and graduate college, you’ll be able to work at least full-time.

A lie that says we reward and hire on the value of merit, not seniority or favoritism.

A lie that says if you are loving and compassionate and give more than you take, you will not suffer or endure continual pain, struggle or challenges. That everyone is capable of gratitude, heart and altruism.

A lie that says anyone cares about you more than you could care for yourself, that anyone is invested in your well-being, worth and safety more than you are.

Call it pride, but when it comes down to it, I expect absolutely nothing of or from others. No one owes you anything. No one will love, trust, respect or work for you the way you can, will and must. 

At the end of the day, the only one you have is YOU. Whether through tears of joy or despair, fits of fear or rage, remember it. Count on it.

And keep believing whatever delusions will move you until you reach the Truth of your heart, mind and body.

In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke: At the bottom no one in life can help anyone else in life. This one experiences over and over in every conflict and every perplexity: that one is alone. That isn’t as bad as it may first appear; and again it is the best thing in life that each should have everything in himself: his fate, his future, his whole expanse and world. 

Why Jennifer Aniston and I Are Two Peas in a Pod (And Other Ramblings of a Nostalgic)


1. We both have Pieces of Flair, myself at Marc Glassman Inc. (I have 3 at my store, so I win); she in Office Space (arguably one of the top 10 movies of all time)

2. The Good Girl brilliantly captured the nefarious quirks of retail/grocery life existentialism

supermarket grocery retail jennifer aniston

3.  She also endured estrangement from her mother, but ultimately reconciled after 9 years. She’s got me beat by 7, but verdict still pending in the Curious Case of Byron Fernandez

jennifer aniston office space good girl movies film pop culture

Which leads to my next topic: Where is the Love?

Truly, I do my best to avoid rants. But I can no longer contain the implacable itch — it’s just too enticing. After a decade of working in myriad customer service, retail and restaurant settings throughout the country, you get to the point where it seems like there’s few colors, shapes and temperaments of the human condition you haven’t had the pleasure (or misfortune) of encountering. It’s certainly cathartic to vent — given the right time, place and outlet of course.

It’s appalling to see the effect of what seemingly insurmountable pressures and frenetic pace of life can have on a human being. I frequently find myself wondering how we can be so insensitive, so disembodied as to reach the point where cavalier disregard for others’ plights becomes standard. There is real pain out there, a brokenness and disillusionment that is often so thick and heavy it’s heartbreaking, demoralizing and unnerving.

Our experience with family, friends and in dating is no exception — and for those who can relate, this is often one of the greatest sources of pain in life. But we’re Alive, and we’re human. And we are all connected.

Personal experience aside, this is where I take issue: ineffectual, uninspired, incompetent and disingenuous leadership, which pervades our homes and follows us into the workplace, ministries and ultimately local and nuclear communities which we inhabit. It is evident in the attitudes and rhetoric of our social and cultural circles, evident in mainstream media and the political discourse of our leaders — and what’s worse, many of us clearly lack the Will to delve deep enough to find and create alternative, compelling and sustainable solutions.

Solutions grounded in passion, decency and commitment toward something bigger than ourselves. As Stephen Covey so aptly says it, private victory precedes public. Pop culture is like high school all over again — people care more about others’ approval and acceptance than their own accountability to themselves, and what can proactively be done to become better individuals and subsequently communities. We can be selfish survivalists and inconsiderate tools, or we could slow down and simply Be/listen with someone every now and then.

It is human nature to pine for validation. But there’s a difference between mere desire and drive; fear and fire. In order to become what we long for, awareness must precede action. It’s a question of motive. Once awareness is acted upon, acknowledgment may or may not come. If and when external validation does occur, it’s natural to celebrate — but even more so a reminder to keep moving forward and find something better to do. It’s counterproductive to linger and dwell for too long.

Motive is pure when energy, discipline and resolve continue — even and especially when no one is watching. When talent abates, as Nietzsche liked to say. When we stop showing one another what we can do…

One of my favorite academic and motivational clichés goes like this: The only place where SUCCESS comes before WORK is in the dictionary. Often it’s the simplest notions that leave a lasting impression with us. Having the right motive keeps you from manipulating others, and builds rapport because people will find it easier to like and trust you.

Shameless self-promotion, beanbag inertia and brown-nosing or begging might produce short-term results, but where will you go from there? And why is it necessary? Good is never good enough, and better isn’t as powerful as best. What if we changed the stories we told ourselves, and challenged ourselves and others everyday to be unreasonably fair, unreasonably decent and true and kind?

Chivalry and altruism isn’t dead, we’ve just lost a sense of how to go about it. There’s a fine line between reverence and desperation; integrity (or character) and reputation. It’s simply a matter of asking yourself what you want, and the means you are willing to accept to get there. It’s a journey, not a race; a marathon, not a sprint. And while we’re barreling down the paths of most resistance, it’s OK to stop every once and a while and help someone who may never be able to repay you.

Because we’ve all been there (and could be there again). And we are all connected.