Monday, March 26, 2012

Embracing your inner Atlas

There are days where I just sit here, just shaking my head, wondering what the hell is wrong with the world I'm living in.

This week is a normal occurrence everywhere I've ever been, when a big project comes along, you know that there are only one or two people who actually give a damn about the project (one of them is usually you), which effectively hoists the rest of the group onto your shoulders and forces you carry them because of a load of different reasons.  Laziness, Invisible Man syndrome, or they've just plain run out of "give a shit" come to mind right off the bat.

I've been through situations like this before.  It was bad enough once, horrible at twice, but at the third time, in the immortal words of my father, "I've got a case of the ass about it."  Daddy also says, "Some people got the worms, there is always something eating them." I can officially say that I'm there, I'm at my zenith, I'm all wormed up because I'm just eat up with frustration about feeling like Atlas.

It occurred to me on the way home from school today that all of us, at one point or another, unwittingly do our best impersonation of Atlas.  You know Atlas, right?  He's the fella who holds up the sky, carries the world on his shoulders...there are lots of variations on Atlas' tale, but at the end of the day it all has the same ending, he's holding up some pretty heavy shit.

Case in point, an illustration of our pal Atlas:

Don't you just hate it when you feel like this is you?
I know you're with me on this.  There are days when it feels like you're carrying the world on your shoulders. It doesn't matter if you're stressed over bills, if the roof is going to stay over your head another month, if you've got so many things to do that there's not enough of you to go around, if you're up to your eyeballs in work and some doodah puts one more thing in your inbox!  It doesn't matter, at one point or another, we're all Atlas.

Now, for those of you who don't 'get' the whole Atlas paradigm saying,"I've never carried anything around like that..." shame on you.  That means that you're one of the ones that left others to carry the load for you.  To boot, you probably know damn good and well when you've done it to other people.  Last time I checked, none of us have a free ticket to shove our load on someone else.  We've all got our own loads to carry and it's not even close to right to just take off and expect someone else to shoulder the load for you.

But now we're at the point where we've suited up in our best Greek regalia and have unwittingly taken the weight of the world onto our shoulders.  Oh, you can say it.  Just the thought of carrying that, like you've done so many times before, makes you sit there and almost weep going, "Oh no, not again."  Oh yes, one more time for the cheap seats, you're carrying the world on your shoulders.

It's very similar to a pothole, as soon as you feel the weight hit your shoulders, you get ticked that it's there.  You did your part, you worked your hardest!  Why the hell are you having to carry this crap?  Well, situations vary, but I will tell you from experience that it's from one of three things:

  1. What you're carrying is a direct result of someone getting lazy.
  2. Someone decided to shove their head up their butt, screw something up and you're the only one on the planet that can fix it properly.
  3. You feel so dismayed and undervalued, knowing perfectly well you can fix the problems you're presented with, but those around you have delighted in giving you the load then chaining you down, tying your hands securely behind your back making you unable to even begin to try to approach it from the right angle because no one is listening as you're screaming the solution to the problem at the top of your lungs.  Put simply, they don't believe in you and don't want you, but you're strong enough to carry the load so they slap you with it.
Ok, the third one is mine, you can have the other two for you.  

Being Atlas isn't easy.  Look at poor fella in the picture!  We all know that carrying other people, who I like to term as "backpacks", is the world's worst feeling.  Case in point, I watched a fellow Atlas, carrying a load bigger than mine in our little project, work at the computer until I was ready to swear that she was going to cry tears of blood.  That sweet darling young woman got everything dumped in her lap, then the minute the backpacks decided to participate, she was unceremoniously shoved to the side.  Now that's not the first time I've seen that happen in my 40 years on the planet, and every time I see something like that happen, I get ticked.  That poor darling girl working so hard with no help other than myself and another fellow Atlas on either side of her working late into the night, assisted only by one supervisor who has become quite the Atlas themselves.

Have you ever noticed when you're weighed down, your legs are straining for that next step, you're gasping for air and praying someone can help, you ask for help and someone either says "no" or "I don't know"?  I tell ya, when you're carrying that heavy of a load and some doodah gives you an 'I don't know', the urge to cry out "Then what the hell am I talking to you for?  Get hell out of the way!" comes to mind almost immediately.  I don't care who you are, when you're carrying the load and there's some twit in the way, you're going to want to mow them down in the most painful way possible.  It's like that great Ortho Fire Ant Killer ad Luke Sullivan has in Hey Whipple, Squeeze This

(every time you see the words "Fire Ant" substitute the word "Backpack")

Fire ants are not lovable.  People do not want fire-ant plush toys.  They aren't cuddly.  They don't do little tricks.  They just bite you and leave red, stinging welts that make you want to cry.  That's why they have to die.  And they have to die right now.  You don't want them to have a long, lingering illness.  You want death.  A quick, excruciating, see-you-hell kind of death.  You don't want to lug a bag of chemicals and a garden hose around the yard.  It takes too long.  No, my friend, what you want is Ant-Stop Orthene Fire Ant Killer from Ortho.  You put two teaspoons of Ant-Stop around the mound and you're done.  You don't even water it in.  The scout ants bring it back into the mound.  And this is the really good part.  Everybody dies.  Even the queen.  It's that fast.  And that's GOOD.  Because killing fire ants shouldn't be a full-time job.  Even if it IS pretty fun.  Ant-Stop Orthene Fire-Ant Killer from Ortho.  Kick fire-ant butt.

Makes you look at what you're doing right now and make sure you've not shoved something of yours onto someone else, doesn't it?

At the end of the day though, with all of the crap I'm carrying right now outside of school, I've decided to embrace my inner Atlas.  I've come to realize that whether I like it or not, whether I tell people 'no' or not, I'm still going to carry the load because I've got the fortitude to do it.  Besides, life likes to make us carry things whether we like it or not, I just don't appreciate the extra added load.  I know you're with me when I say that while others wuss out, we're the strong ones, and that takes us right back to the inner fortitude we've striven so hard to gain throughout our lifetime sophomoric experiences.  

This is the moment that you go, "I've seen worse" or "Bring it on", knowing full well that at the end, it's fortitude and heart that wins the day. It just sucks to do leg press reps with the weight of the world on your shoulders because that sucker is heavy, the only good part is that it builds good emotional muscle. Then you mutter to yourself, "Come on, you can do it!  One more!" even though you know you shouldn't be lifting it in the first place.

But knowing that you're tough stuff and you can handle it, even though it's heavy, still doesn't replace that feeling of injustice that wells up inside of you after trying to explain that it's not right that you keep being expected to be Atlas.  Yes, yes, I know, but you have a few options:
  1. Immediately drop what your carrying directly on your nearest backpack (i.e. make them do it).
  2. Make sure that when your time to carry things is up, drop it from a tall distance onto the nearest lazy person's foot (and take joy in hearing the pain-filled cry upon impact). 
  3. Finish carrying the load, then put it down and walk away, effectively saying, "There.  I got through it.  Now to hell with it."
Either way, you've got some options, but in the mean time, you've had some laughs along the way.  I think it sucks when people decide to take off and leave others to do things.  I think it's wrong and I can't think of a single excuse that would cover intentionally leaving someone holding the bag.  Let's face it, we've all done it one time or another, I'm probably guilty of it too, but at least now we're more aware of it.

So today, embrace your inner Atlas, then make your devious plans to politely drop the heavens and Earth on the nearest backpack's foot.  It's fun, it's relaxing, and your back will thank you for putting down the load.

Have a happy week everyone!

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