Friday, April 10, 2015

Are YOU Into It?

All the way back in 2000, a whopping 1.5 decades ago, I officially became a Boy Scout.  I wasn't new to Scouting; I had previously spent over 2.5 years as a Cub Scout, mostly in Webelos, which is the last part of Cub Scouting that is meant to prepare kids for Boy Scouting.  Despite that, however, it wasn't my choice to join a Boy Scout troop; in fact, I almost didn't.  When I was finishing up Cub Scouting, I wanted to stop there; I just didn't see myself as a Boy Scout.  To me, a Boy Scout is more than a moral person of the male gender; he is an outdoorsman, a sportsman, and relatively athletic, among other things...all of which I never have been.  However, my sister insisted, and I ended up wasting thirteen months in the program before my mom decided to pull the plug, saying what I had known all along: it wasn't a good fit for me.

Boy Scouting was one of many things that other people--both family members and friends--tried to get me into that just never captivated my interest.  When I was only about six or seven years old, my mom signed me up for roller skating lessons after a psychologist suggested that "non-competitive sports" would be good for me...but I didn't enjoy the class at all.  She then signed me up for swimming lessons, which I liked even less.  Also included in that category is everything from AVID--that is, Advancement via Individual Determination--to owning a dog; I think, by now, you all know the story of the latter: when my mom brought home a canine companion intended specifically for me, I was positively livid.

There are countless other stories I could tell you...but I won't.  What I will tell you is this: In every case, my lack of interest was because I just couldn't get excited about...well, whatever.  I remember back in summer of 2003, my mom and I were in a store, and I got all excited when I saw a Lizzie McGuire calendar.  I showed it to my mom, who said, "That doesn't excite me!" It's understandable that she felt that way; she would have known nothing of Lizzie had it not been for me, and just because she respected my interest in it didn't mean anything related to the show or Hilary Duff in general thrilled her the least bit.  Most of you reading this probably feel the same way about most of what I do: you're happy that I have hobbies and fun things to do, and you're glad when something good happens to me related to those hobbies...but the thought of garage saling for an entire Saturday morning or watching an entire season of a TV show in a week doesn't excite you at all.

One of the hardest things to do when dealing with young children or those who are severely mentally impaired is making them understand tough concepts.  When my niece was born just over a decade ago, my sister and brother-in-law had two dogs and three cats...but, by the time my niece turned three, both of the dogs and at least one of the cats had to be euthanized because of various health concerns.  My niece, however, couldn't stop talking about the deceased pets, and seemed to think they were coming back someday.  Their continued explanations that they just were gone forever didn't take; as my brother-in-law said, "We've tried to explain it to her so many times, and it just goes right over her head!" Losing a loved one--including a pet--is tough for anyone to accept; my niece, however, just couldn't do that at all.  In another case, a family friend who had a mentally retarded son who was well into his twenties at the time was dealing with a very caustic situation.  Long story short, some random girl told him that she was having his child, even though he had never seen her before in his life.  Most people his age would realize the ridiculousness of such a claim...but, he believed it, because he was so far behind mentally that he didn't understand the concept of human reproduction.  His parents tried to tell him time and time again that said young woman couldn't be having his baby...but, he just had trouble comprehending it.  The whole situation seriously stressed his entire family.

I'm not a little kid anymore, and I'm perfectly capable of understanding adult concepts...but, sometimes, people have trouble getting me interested in things outside my area of interest, and have to use such tactics.  Sometimes, no matter what people say, it just doesn't work; I'm just not going to get excited about some things, especially if they relate to sports.  People have gotten mad at times because of my lack of interest; my brother-in-law was once really upset because I was all excited about an upcoming youth retreat...but couldn't have cared less about any Boy Scout camping trips.  To be honest, I can understand his feelings to a degree--he had worked hard up to that point to keep me in Scouting--but, still, he knew that I really didn't want to be in the program at all, so it shouldn't have surprised him.

I know my areas of interest are limited; when I think about that, it reminds me of an episode of Home Improvement.  It starts with Jill telling Tim that she can't take their younger son Mark to a ballet, so, Tim has to do it.  At first, he plans on doing just that...but, then, his neighbor Wilson gives him courtside tickets to a Detroit Pistons game...which is happening right around the same time as the ballet.  Tim and Mark leave the ballet early to attend the ball game; they try and keep it from Jill, but, as usual, she finds out anyway.  When she and Tim discuss it, she says, "Tim, for years I have been trying to expose the boys to something other than sports, tools, and cars.  I can't get Brad interested; Randy's light is barely flickering; now, you've gone and taken what I had with Mark."  Some people could say the same for me: "Everything you do seems to involve technology, entertainment, or shopping! There's so much more to life than that; why won't you try something new?"  First off, you'd be hard-pressed to find many things that don't involve technology; even getting a shower or sitting in church--unless your house of worship doesn't use PowerPoint--would fall into that category.  Second off, you may think that's limited, but you don't realize that my scope of interests is much broader than it has ever been.  When I was younger, I usually had a favorite entity...and everything was about that entity.  It was kind of like a little child who learns his or her first word, and proceeds to think of everything as that word; my mom used to babysit a little girl who learned the word "cat", and would point at everything from the television set to our dog and say, "Cat!"  I made progress over time, but, it wasn't until recent years that my interests even came close to being as varied as they are currently.  Maybe, over time, they'll broaden even more; we'll see what the future holds.  Still, for me, where my interests are now is quite good; ask someone who knew me when I was younger if you don't believe me.

In conclusion: I realize that my tastes in pretty much everything make me unique...but that's just how I like it.  People who tell me to do the "normal" thing instead are seriously misguided; they don't truly know me, and, whether they admit it or not, they don't want me to be me.  My interests--in all areas, not just television--are a big part of who I am.  I remember a quotation in my sophomore yearbook from a guy who said that "growing up with rap music" was a very big influence on him, and made him who he was at that time.  You all know I never bother with mainstream hip-hop tunes, but, I kind of feel the same way: I am who I am today because of not only television, but movies, books, video/computer games, technology, garage saling...and all of the other things that I grew up with, most of which I still hold in high regard to this day.  It gives me a different perspective than most, but, if you're my friend, you shouldn't have a problem with that.

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