As I was eating the last slice of lemon meringue pie, my thoughts turned to selfishness. It's funny how concepts pop into your head for no apparent reason. People are selfish and self-centered, aren't they?
You know they are, especially if you've had an ex-wife or an older (or younger) brother or sister. Not to mention girlfriends and boyfriends. Why, it seems the only unselfish people on the planet are you and and me. Well, me anyway... I am not so sure about you.
It's inherent. No, I don't mean it's because your parents are selfish. I mean it is simply human. It is the first and foremost trait we exhibit.
Think about a baby. Each resembles no one more than Winston Churchill but is seen to be so beautiful and cuddly by its family. And what does that baby do? It cries, it excretes, it sleeps (seemingly rarely and never when its parents do) and above all demands. And the parents indulge its every whim. Mostly just in the hopes of a gas induced semblance of a smile.
Over the next several years, the parents will seek to suppress that selfishness and train the child to be gracious and giving. The parents are likely be most successful in that endeavor by ironically feeding the greed of the child. That's right, the parents reward the good behavior by indulging the very thing they wish to control. Eventually, the child learns to hide the selfishness in exchange for getting what it wants.
We are all selfish. Of this, I am absolutely positive. The most successful of us manage to hide this behind charity and kind acts. But even those acts are for our own glory. We fill our shelves and mantles with trophies, our walls with plaques and certificates, and blush with false modesty when others notice and comment on our achievements.
Except for me, of course. The proof of this are my bare walls and empty shelves. I have spurned recognition and avoided success. In fact, my greatest achievement has been to become a complete nobody.
And I revel in it.
A Night Unremembered
7 years ago