One time I was getting a drink in Big John’s Tavern downtown. I ordered, gave the female bartender my card, she looked at my last name on the card, and her face soured like I had stiffed her on the bill. “Coker?” she asked like it was the worst thing to be called, “yes, thats me” I said.
“Are you related to judge… Coker?”.
“yes I am” I replied.
This has actually happened to me a lot. My uncle was a magistrate for North Charleston up until his death. I’ve met a lot of people who saw my name, put the two and two together, and then told me cool stories about how my uncle helped them or showed them leniency or, in one situation, made overzealous cops back down when they were harassing them.
Not this lady.
Once she heard that I was related to judge Coker, she told me about how he had screwed her over and presented it like she hadn’t done anything wrong. I don’t believe anyone is perfect, especially family, so I kept asking questions. Turns out , she was before him because she had a DUI.
Literally everyone I know has driven when they shouldn’t, so I’m not here to judge her. But damn, if you get a DUI and the judge isn’t nice, maybe the judge isn’t the problem.
The less we are responsible, the more we feel harrassed. The less we are responsible, the more scared we are. The less we are responsible, the more we must devote large amounts of mental energy to picturing worst case scenarios and assigning the most one sided motives to people who we are at loggerheads with.
Being responsible is not the same thing as being at fault. I, like you, have had things happen to me that are unfair. I got accepted to my dream school when I was 27, but couldn’t get a loan to go to school to save my life. That wasn’t my fault per se, but if I don’t take responsibility for that then I will moulder and seethe and poison myself.
When you allow your disappointments to lay on other people’s desks, they will never be processed.
Every man and woman has a few drops of pure poison in them. Its easy to recognize when it comes from someone else, its much more uncomfortable to see the poison that you have generated on your own in reaction to life.
I don’t think all the poison can be removed, but I do think it can be used to help pursue a good goal.
I saw a video about a garden in a British research facility that is filled from corner to corner with poisonous plants. Every thing that grows inside the high walls of that garden could kill you, your dog, your family.
The scientists don’t hang out there, but they do study it. They learn from it, but they make sure that they keep it locked up, and they wear protective gear when they go in.
We all have our poison garden. We all have our injuries. The evils we have done or had done to us.
But we all have a choice how we manage the landscape. Being responsible for your own shit is the only way to keep the poison from showing up where it shouldn’t be.