What is the hardest thing about living alone — having no one to blame or having no one to forgive?
Notes from the Golden Orange
EppsNet Archive: Blame
We were all put on the board somewhere. We make our moves. Stuff happens. Be sure to blame what happens on where you started. That'll help.
— Ron Jeffries (@RonJeffries) March 21, 2014
If I had to single out one piece of advice that’s guided me through life, most likely it would be from my grandmother, Nellie Molonson. She always made a point of making sure I understood that on the road to success, there’s no point in blaming others when you fail.
Here’s how she put it: “Sonny, I don’t care who you are. Some day you’re going to have to sit on your own bottom.” After more than half a century in the energy business, her advice has proven itself to be spot-on time and time again. My failures? I never have any doubt whom they can be traced back to. My successes? Most likely the same guy.
The worst thing you can do to people, aside from physical injury, is give them the idea to blame their failures on vague impersonal forces or the actions of anybody but themselves. It doesn’t promote success or happiness. I don’t know any happy people who think like that.
For example, I read this in a New York Times article about an impoverished area of West Virginia:
John got caught up in the dark undertow of drugs that defines life for so many here in McDowell County.
That is just awful. I live in Southern California, not too far from the ocean . . . I’m familiar with undertows (although I’ve never heard of a “dark” undertow). First of all, sorry to be pedantic but undertows aren’t dangerous . . . they’re just after-effects of individual waves. What’s dangerous is a riptide . . . a concentrated flow of water that can jet you offshore in a matter of seconds.
Maybe John got caught in a riptide of drugs.
Some beaches post signs warning swimmers of riptides on high-risk days, but in general, getting caught in a riptide is an unfortunate but unavoidable event. Drug abuse is optional. It’s a decision you make about your life.
(I’m assuming here that no one sticks a funnel in your mouth and pours drugs into it against your will . . .)
The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.
- When you control Congress but not the White House, blame the White House.
- When you control the White House but not Congress, blame Congress.
- When you control the White House and Congress, blame your predecessor.
Whenever I meet dynamic, nonretarded Americans, I notice that they all seem to share a single unifying characteristic: the inability to experience the kind of mind-blowing, transcendent romantic relationship they perceive to be a normal part of living. And someone needs to take the fall for this. So instead of blaming no one (which is kind of cowardly) or blaming everyone (which is kind of meaningless), I’m going to blame John Cusack.