Guest Post: Why Me? Why NOT Me?

I posted a short quote from a baseball player, of all things, in the “He Said/She Said” section. It was Mel Stottlemyre, a baseball coach and certifiably Famous Dude within the world of MLB, shrugging and refusing to pity himself for being struck with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. “Why me? Why not me?” he said in a Steve Rushin article in Sports Illustrated a decade ago, and I’ve never forgotten. (It must be an example I need to remember.) Thoughtful reader Michael Freeman made his comment into a short personal essay, which deserved prime real estate, and here it is:

I don’t know who actually coined this phraseology first, but it took me a long time to come to the same conclusion, if not the same exact language. A coin has two sides, different sides unless you are lucky enough or crafty enough to possess one of those phony two-headed coins of con job fame.

An argument, or debate, in its simplest form has a pro and a con. An island has an east and a west coast. A game has a winner and a loser. Why can’t every why have a why not?

I was leaving an AA meeting one time. I had just joined in the group commiseration of throwing our proverbial dirty laundry into the centre of the table, and shared ideas as to how to proceed. Each meeting is a safe haven where all are welcome to share and discuss and come away feeling just a little bit better. And it usually works, for many, at least along spiritual and emotional lines, but I have always had the nagging of physical discomfort knocking at my door. Daily. Persistent. And at times, relentless.

I stood at the bottom of a staircase bemoaning my condition: festering leg and back pain and a mind distracted by its impact. I hesitated for but a few moments, pondering the new and exciting pains I was about to feel as I climbed those stairs. I looked up as if in search of some comfort from where I am told God might reside. Will he finally hear me and listen to me just this once? I then asked myself those fateful words; mentally, quietly and unnoticed by the many streaming past. Why me?

I lowered my gaze to the stairs in front of me and was about to take my first step in the climb when a thought came over me. Why not me? It came from somewhere unknown. Quickly. Silently. And it seemed as if I finally had an answer to many of my questions. Look at the other side of the coin. Why me? Wrong question. Why not me? The question to end all questions. I began looking at life a whole lot differently from that moment on, after years of unexplained pain and suffering, or maybe the necessity of pain and suffering and the target that is me. Why not me?

I came to understand Why Me? as being very arrogant to even ask. Who was I to have deserved any better than I was given? Why wasn’t what I was given good enough in my estimation? Where did the concepts of “better than” or “good enough” come from and what do they really mean? If there is a creator, a God, then who am I to question his wisdom in providing for me exactly what he has given? Am I bold enough, arrogant enough to challenge the plan of the creator? That moment, the very moment when I found myself distressed and feeling at one of my lowest points, could be the very first moment that I decided to give God a try.

I have been searching for answers in religion for so many years, and never really found what I was looking for; answers to my biggest of questions. And then I found it. The other side of the coin. I can only surmise that there is a purpose for my pain and discomfort, for my struggles and my life. I have since stopped looking for some hidden grand meaning, for I think I got lost in the search. I now accept that which is given and choose to learn from it, not challenge and question.

You arrogant bugger: Why Me? Why NOT Me? is my definition of freedom. I still have all kinds of pain and discomfort. I am still being given challenges, even some new physical ones, but I now seem to be able to take them in stride. And I know that all will be revealed to me in due time — if that is the way it is meant to be.

Michael P. Freeman has been a grade 5/6 teacher for over 20 years on the Six Nations reserve in Grand River country. He is also a union activist, sports fan, catholic (small ‘c’) reader, advocate for the disabled and the addicted, and a closet writer. (This does not count as an official ‘outing’, but it would be a start, if he hadn’t already had one guest post here earlier.) His weblog address remains a closely guarded secret.

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