Mentality is the mental power, your mental power, and capacity to change the outlook on your life.
I’m way behind on my LEA↑ hopping, but I did finally make it to Mentality↑ this morning. There are only a few days left of this exhibit so try and get there soon.
This installation, and the thoughts behind it, dovetailed with something else I’ve been thinking about – and musings resulted. I’m going to ramble a bit here – this is a topic that deserves thousands of words and this blog doesn’t support that. I’ll try and moderate my words, but it might be safer to just look at the pictures and ignore the text. :p
Let me begin with a debate I’ve been watching for a while. The inimitable John Scalzi wrote a blog post a year ago titled “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is”↑. The piece was reposted to a gaming site↑ and if people thought the comments on the original were *cough* interesting, the latter proved even more so. As a belated follow-up, Cracked.com↑ published a post analyzing the comments on that gaming site. This, in its own right, has generated responses from many of the intellectually accomplished (yes I’m laughing as I write that).
One of the 5 themes in the comment analysis states (and I’m paraphrasing) “I’m a straight white guy and my life sucks so there isn’t a bias out there.” The writer says “There are people who genuinely believe that because their lives are not perfect, nothing else in society is worthy of attention.” This is actually a comforting thought for those who believe it – it means that they aren’t responsible for their own failures and, seeing other peoples’ societally-imposed difficulties as non-existent, means they don’t have to examine their own lack of achievement objectively.
My own feeling, and it’s not easy to articulate in a few words, is that most people have sucky things wrong with their lives – those that don’t are to be envied. If the shit you’re dealing with is imposed by others because of things beyond your control – your gender, race, age, etc., – well then, removing those limits should be something society considers important.
One of the sucky things a large proportion of the population must deal with is their health. Disabilities of various forms are everywhere and they impose limitations that are sometimes invisible but, nevertheless, authentic. I think many of those commenters, who dismiss the real problems facing those who suffer discrimination, could learn a lot from the way a lot of health-challenged individuals approach their own lives.
The installation I visited this morning, Mentality↑, addresses this topic. Katy Utherworldly↑ talks about her own issues, the obstacles she has to overcome everyday. One of the sections I could relate to immediately was the one talking about Spoon Theory↑ - when your physical resources are limited (just like financial ones) you have to choose what you will attempt and recognize that today’s accomplishments will be dependent on how many spoons you have and what’s in them.
When I was going through a decade of severe physical impairment I spent a lot of time doing trade-offs. I can do this – but it means those three things won’t happen. The thing is, you don’t leave the spoons to go to waste. Curling up in a corner is certainly an option – but, pfffft, what’s the point of that?
My point is this, if the obstacles you face are created by other people (out of ignorance, fear, politics, etc.,) then it’s up to us as a society to address that. Most of us are saddled with limitations that society can’t be held responsible for – what we do in spite of them is up to us.
I once had an argument with somebody who said that a famous actor who had to deal with paralysis as a result of an accident was a hero. I said no, I’m sure he’s a nice guy but the parent who’s dealing with constant unimaginable pain and still manages to earn a living and raise three children is the hero. If they had the resources of that actor, imagine what they could accomplish!
Second Life is a wonderful tool for many to overcome their physical obstacles. Real Life is still there though. The artist expresses herself, and my own belief, in a poem. She does a much better job than I have. :)
Draw your life
Paint your very existence
Not how it has been
Now how it is
Not how others want you
Not based off past
Not based off future
Create daily by choice
the person you want
Rather than find the person you don’t
You hold every tool
You will ever need