Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Kant Died in the Cornfield

I had a friend in high school who always said "Can't died in the cornfield"  if I whined or said I couldn’t do something.  I never had a clue what she was talking about but I knew it had something to do with my negative attitude.  I gathered she was encouraging me to not give up before I actually tried.  The whole cornfield thing threw me off though.  Plus cornfields creep me out.  I looked at a bunch of images for this post and when I was done I had the heebie jeebies.  Too much Stephen King as a child I suppose.  Just sayin.

Later in college part of the curriculum was Philosophy 101.  I never bothered to go but I did purchase Immanuel Kant's The Critique of Pure Reason.  I cracked it open, didn't understand a thing and promptly stuck it on a shelf.  But the guy's name caught my eye.  Being from Pittsburgh I pronounced it can't (like pant) as opposed to kahnt, which just sounds dirty.  Ah, po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe, to-may-to, to-mah-toe.  Let's call the whole thing off. 

Now I have been told that I live in "Georgie's World" which is to say, my own head.  Therefore, if I think something is real then it absolutely is.  The kicker is then, if something is real for me in my world  it must be real for you too.  Because I never understood  the expression  "Can't died in the cornfield" I decided that the expression must actually be "Kant Died in the Cornfield".  However, from the one and only Philosophy 101 class I did attend, I learned that Kant did not actually die in a cornfield but in Königsberg, Russia.  So I changed the expression (in my own head) to "Kant Didn't Die in a Cornfield"  because, you know, he didn't. And I knew that it didn't really matter if Kant died in a cornfield because I knew that I couldn't.  I just wasn't capable or competent. So why try.  And in my world this is what you thought of me too.

Much later in my life when I needed to get sober I started going to meetings.  I never spoke to anyone, came alone and ran out the door as soon as the meeting ended. This is not, by the way, how one is supposed to do it.  One evening a woman who had been watching all this approached me and asked  if I really wanted to stop drinking.  Hmmmmm.  No I just thought this would be a  fun way to spend a Saturday night.  But what came out of my mouth was yes.  So she told me I needed to stand by the door, welcome folks as they came in, shake hands and introduce myself.  Oh and clean the ashtrays and the coffeepots when the meeting was over.  Wait a minute.  Me?  She couldn't mean me.   I'm shy.  I'm self-conscious. I'm awkward, I'm scared and I thought to myself there is NO WAY I'm doing that. Sheesh!  Didn't she know I was dyspraxic?  Did I happen to mention I'm just a tiny  bit self-pitying?

So I said to this lovely woman, "I can't." (Whine) She paused momentarily.  I think it was the whine that got her. And then she said rather harshly in my opinion, "stick out your arm."  So I did, because she scared me.  Next she said  even more harshly (in my opinion) "move it up and down," and I thought to myself, c'mon what is this Simon says?  But I did it.  Did I mention that she scared me?  Finally when I stopped moving my arm up and down like a loon she looked at me and said, "Your arm works.  Your mouth works.  So it's not you can't.  It's you won't,"  and she turned smartly on her heel and walked away.  Oooh, how I hated her at that moment because 1) How dare she?  Didn't she know how hard it was to be me?  and 2) She was right.  Soooooo,  I went over and stood at the door, put out my hand, moved it up and down and said  hello.  After the meeting I cleaned the ashtrays AND the coffeepots. And that folks was the day that Kant really did die in the cornfield.