Monday, April 20, 2015

Ninety Per Cent of Life

What looks good in history, often is unpleasant, and probably, avoidable. At 15, I ran away to Florida from upstate New York for 1 million different reasons. One day on my journey I was in Columbus, Georgia. I apparently had walked into a  "colored" bathroom and all the African-Americans were laughing at me. This was the first time I realized there were real problems in the America I loved.
So in 1962, I stood up in my high school fraternity and said we should have African-American members. Since the Boys Club where we met was full of black kids it seemed like a reasonable request. However it seems that the kid with ADHD had mouthed off too often and finally pissed too many people off.
A few days later, after my outrageous behavior had crystallized attitudes, I was invited to duke it out with a guy who was 6 foot four in the public park in front of the school.
I couldn't not show up, so I went out there and kept standing up until everybody was disappointed. With his arm span I had never gotten close to landing a good one. It probably looked pathetic. But I learned one thing that day, which  later became a cliché: 90% of life is just showing up.
By the time I got to my doctoral dissertation, my ADHD was really a problem. I solved that by getting a carrel in the library and writing for 20 minutes then walking around the library for 40 minutes and talking to people. I got my doctoral dissertation published in a Journal, and took enough shit for 30+ years to become a professor emeritus with good health care. Ninety per cent was just about showing up.

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