Rusted Pickup at the Senior Prom

I sort of keep this to myself, mostly, but I can’t tell you how often I look around at my fellow bloggers here on FreethoughtBlogs and wonder “What the hell am I doing here? What have I ever done to deserve  to be in this company?”

I even felt some of it at Reason Rally, as I watched person after person stand on the podium and say (or sing) fantastic things. When I walked around the corner that morning and first saw the Rally, I threw up my arms and said “My People!” I even know some of the people who spoke; I co-blog with a couple of them. But there were still moments when I felt unworthy. As if I hadn’t done enough  to deserve to be there.

Perfect example of the feeling: I was talking to Camels With Hammers’ Dan Fincke recently about ex-Muslim activist Taslima Nasrin, who had to flee her own country in 1994, and who faces death on a daily basis for her feminism and her criticism of Islam.

Here’s something she said at Reason Rally: “I will continue my fight until I die.” — a statement that was both a promise of ongoing action on her part, and the naked recognition that somewhere out there was the waiting certainty of murder.

“Where do you find courage like that?” I wondered. “How do you get to be that brave?”

I mean, I want to make a difference in the world, but if I ask myself “Am I willing to die  for it?” the answer is always “Uh, gee … ” Even though I think the larger battle, taking the part of Reason in an unreasoning world, is a matter of life and death for all of us, even those of us who’ve felt fairly safe so far, and that the death-threat moment might be coming up fast.

Anyway, take it as given that when I read my co-bloggers’ writing, I often think “This is fantastic!” but I also sometimes hear this little whisper in the back of my head: “You don’t deserve to be here. Nothing  you’ve done is this good.”

If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, how I came to think it this morning, click over and read When the rug is pulled at Crommunist Manifesto.

There just ain’t no words.

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  • Docsarvis

    Hank, don’t measure yourself by others. I made that mistake most of my life, and finally after turning 50 I gained the ability to accept myself for who and what I am. My friends had been doing this all along, and they kept professing their love for me. I am now comfortable with my accomplishments and abilities, and have relaxed enough to simply enjoy doing what I do well. My hobby is astronomy and I get to hang out with a lot of extremely smart people. It is humbling, but they don’t look down on me because I am bad at math, they accept me because we have common interests and I always have good whiskey.

  • Deepsix

    “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

    I always liked that line.

    • Ray Moscow

      But isn’t that what the Clint Eastwood character says before shooting the Gene Hackman character (again)?

      Still, it’s basically true.

  • sisu

    hey Hank, just in case you don’t hear it enough – your blogging has made a difference to me, in my life. I have a tattoo now of the number 30,000 on the inside of my left wrist, based on your blog post. It resonated so strongly with me that I wanted to carry a reminder of that message with me every day, for as many days as I have left. (I’d love to email you a pic of it, if you like)

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist Crommunist

    Remember Hank, the model we work with is “mutually assured construction”. All of us are equally neurotic about measuring up to each other, so we push ourselves harder to get better. Any time you catch me feeling particularly skilled as a writer is a time you catch me having not read anyone else’s blogs (yours included) for at least a couple of days.

  • Jim Baerg

    I think this is the inverse of the Dunning-Kruger effect. People who are somewhat above average (in whatever) tend to hang around with others who are also above average & so underestimate their own abilities.

  • Johnny Vector

    Sure, but you can take that rusted pickup out into the woods where a fancy-ass Corvette would just get stuck. While everyone else is hanging out at the Tastee-Freez on Fourth Street, you’re four-wheelin’ it up to the top of Mt. Elden, with a couple six-packs in the back, to greet the rising sun. Who’s the winner now?

    I have no idea what that has to do with your writing, but suffice it to say your worthiness here is unquestionable.

  • Ray Moscow

    I think it’s not such much what you’ve done to get there but rather what you do once you’re there. And I think you’re doing a great job.

  • F

    So, you find yourself suffering from impostor syndrome. Hank, you are not an impostor.

    As far as bravery goes, well, generally you reach a point for some value of “live free or die” where you say “fuck it”.

  • Desert Son, OM

    Seems to me Freethought Blogs isn’t so much a taste test as a potluck supper. I’m quite happy to stick around Blue Collar Atheist as a reader/occasional commenter, and in your capacity as a blogger I hope you are similarly inclined.

    Still would love to hear the story about feeding the grizzly by hand, if you’re at all interested. If, on the other hand, you’re tired of hearing about it from me, please say so and I will pour myself a fresh cup of shut-the-hell-up-about-it.

    Still learning,

    Robert

    • Hank Fox
      • Desert Son, OM

        Hank,

        Just finished reading it this morning, thanks for the link! Great story! Thanks so much for telling it.

        I’ve never thought of bears as monsters, though I do think they retain the scary aspect you mention insofar as they are, relative to the human, very powerful physically. I think my heart would have been pounding, though I would also have loved to have the opportunity to get as close as you did. I love the description of how agile their lips are: so often it is easy to assume (easy trap for me to fall into, I should qualify) that the immense physical power somehow eclipses deftness, but it’s a great read in your account, noting an animal with jaws that can splinter bone also has lips that can gently pluck berries from branches (or marshmallows from fingers).

        Your mention of coyotes reminded me of a hike I was on with my father in the Franklin Mountains foothills early one spring morning years ago (we had set out before dawn so as to minimize our hike time in the sun). We were making our way up a gully and all of a sudden the high, yelping whine of some coyotes lifted up around us. We couldn’t see them, they were atop the walls of the wash and out of sight, but the sound was intense and so close and awesome. We just stood and listened to them for a few moments as they moved away.

        Anyway, thanks again for that great story. I’m so glad you got to have that great experience!

        Still learning,

        Robert

  • MatthewL

    There’s a saying in business: You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate. Seems to me you’re negotiating the waters just fine.

    Besides there’s one thing you can certainly do far, far better than anyone else and that is be yourself.

  • a miasma of incandescent plasma

    Your short stacks are some of the best things on this blog network.

  • geocatherder

    Hank,
    there are lots of us who love your writing, love your way of finding insightful everyday analogies to help us understand your points, love your straight talk and your clear way of making a point. I read most of the posters on FTB fairly often (there’s only so much time for the indulgence of the internet) but I read everything you post.

    Don’t shortchange yourself.

  • geocatherder

    BTW, the only problem with a rusty pickup at a prom is if the gentleman hasn’t washed the six inches of mud off it in deference to the lady’s long dress. :-)

  • rikitiki

    Hank, as the owner of a 1962 VW pickup, I resemble that remark!

    And I’m with the others: to me, you’re a stellar writer – concise,
    level-headed, understandable, insightful, wonderfully humorous,
    and an all-out kick in the pants. The only relation I can see
    between yourself and a rusted pickup at the Senior Prom is:
    if it works, don’t fix it. And you, sir, work just fine.

  • Crudely Wrott

    You just keep on doing what you do, Hank.

    It’ll be all right.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    Hank,

    There are FtB blogs I glance at occasionally. There’s two blogs which for various reasons I never look at. Also there are a handful of blogs I read avidly. Your blog is in this last group. I read every post you write, even if I don’t always comment. Your intelligence, your wit, your passion, and your good writing have made a strong impression on me.

    When I was in college ever so many years ago I had a Volkswagen bug. My girlfriend and I named that car “Flattery” because it got us everywhere. If I had that VW now I’d call it “Hank” because it means so much to me.

  • procrastinator will get an avatar real soon now

    Hank, I had hoped (naively) I would run into you at the Reason Rally. Your down to earth writing is a pleasure to read.

  • http://www.blogxing.ru Belkis Schramel

    Blog Xing, add your blogs here: http://www.blogxing.ru

  • http://cornelioid.wordpress.com/ Cory Brunson

    I came across your blog due to this post, which i found poignant and familiar. I spent my youth in a hick kind of town, though i never really fit in — i was the Yankee atheist, though i was from Kentucky and didn’t call myself an atheist until i learned the word from my classmates. I miss the culture of a coal mining town with one traffic light. and the TV ads that your neighbor keeps on into the wee hours of the night, garage gadgetry or Christian symbolism underneath a toll-free number. I was an observer, but my mom wasn’t; that’s her culture. I showed her your book ad on YouTube and she just about lost it with laughter . . . so i’ll be getting the book for her soon. Thanks a lot for bringing your wit and roots to the fight!


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