And since birth I’ve been cursed with this curse to just curse
And just blurt this berserk and bizarre **** that works
And it sells and it helps in itself to relieve
All this tension dispensing these sentences
Getting this stress that’s been eating me recently off of this chest
And I rest again peacefully (peacefully)…
A philosopher once said “And I am, whatever you say I am”. Maybe Eminem isn’t the foremost authority on Existentialism, but he hit the nail on the head with that line. Despite our first person viewpoint on life, we are actually the product of how others view us. If someone calls you biased, then you exist as biased to them, even if you think you are fair and balanced. We are actual products of what others think us to be, not how we see ourselves. If the opposite were true, the earth wouldn’t rotate around the sun.
So in that vein, I’m a hater. I’m a hater, because I’ve been called a hater. So hence, I hate the New York Knicks. I’m the hate-iest Knick hater that ever drew air.
Now I could bust out my Knicks gear to prove my loyalty. I could claim that only an insane person would spend 9 years devoting his free time and energy to a team he despised. I could say that any negative thoughts on the Knicks were merely an act of love, a desire to point out their flaws so that they may be fixed and our ‘Bockers could ascend to cream of the crop. Yet there are some that will call me a hater for saying anything bad about the Knicks. I’m a hater to them because I won’t ignore the downside and only see the upside.
That’s fine, because my pessimism will allow me to survive.
In 1965, naval pilot James Stockdale’s plane was shot down and he ejected into enemy territory. The North Vietnamese captured him and held him prisoner for nearly 8 years. They tortured him physically and mentally. But Stockdale survived and said afterward “I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”
So on the outside, it would appear that in the most dire circumstances, optimism is the key to success. However when pressed further Stockdale noted that the prisoners that didn’t survive were “… the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Stockdale’s revelation was that during times of stress, one must be optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. It’s not enough to believe that everything will turn out OK in the end. That must be accompanied by facing the harshness of reality. Or as he said it “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
This need to be simultaneously both optimistic and pessimistic is known as the Stockdale paradox. Think about it for a second and it makes complete sense. If your New Years resolution is to get in shape, it’s not enough to convince yourself that you are a gym rat. You must do that, and then explore the dark-side of your mind. Why haven’t you exercised before? What’s stopping you from going to the gym? How are you going to keep going when you’re sore? When it’s cold outside? When you’re hung over? You must ponder the worst case scenarios to accomplish your task.
When I tell people that I’m a Knicks fan (and/or a Jets fan) they often ask the question — how is it possible that I root for such a doomed franchise all these years? How can I stand putting my hopes in a such a mismanaged and disheartening team. I’m usually at a loss for why, and respond that I’ve always been a fan on these teams or that it makes up for my being a Yankee fan. However now I know it’s my ability to be a fan and a hater, which allows me to survive being a Knick fan, year after year.