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Nothing to be done about it

In college, and after college, I dated John Schmidt. Self-described BeanHead, John grew up in Indiana, leaving only to go to Caltech. If I recall correctly, he went to Tech because it was the school farthest away from his family (a hauntingly familiar theme amongst my exes). John's father died when John was in high school, an event which caused enormous relief to John, as his father was an overbearing man.

John would tell me stories of his youth. He rarely told me a story if it didn't have relevance to the situation at hand, and the relevance was usually some brilliant, awe-inspiring, soul-revealing lesson he had learned.

One of the first stories John told me was about his father. John was youngish, maybe ten, and was being yelled at by his father. I don't recall what John had done, but he thought what he had done was the right thing to do. His father disagreed, and was screaming at the top of his lungs at John, telling him what a bad person he was, how could he have done such a thing.

Some point during the scream fest, when John insisted what he had done was right (he might have been clocked for his response, I don't recall that either), he realized that his father didn't know all and that his father was wrong. Most importantly, John realized that, no, being older or bigger or louder didn't mean you were right, it just meant you were older or bigger or louder.

The event taught John to believe in himself, because he was right.

Another story John would tell me, on more than one occasion, was about his paper route.

He had a paper route for a number of years, and would get up in the cold, dark morning and deliver the paper in his neighborhood. One particular cold morning, he was trudging along on his route, it was dark, and snowing, and freaking cold. Cold, cold, cold. And wasn't he just the most miserable person in all the world. Here he was outside, delivering the newspapers, and his feet were frozen, and his toes hurt, and his fingers were pained, and woe, oh woe, is he.

At some point along this particular route, however, he realized that he had work to do, and complaining about what he was doing wasn't getting the job done any quicker, it wasn't making the load any lighter, and it sure as hell wasn't warming up his feet.

So he stopped complaining, and just did his job. Because at that point, there was nothing to be done about the cold - it was going to be cold, and the only way he was going to go home was by finishing his route. So he did.

For as long as I spent time with John, complaining was never his style. Probably because of that paper route.

John had a long sleeved, white cross-country shirt from high school. The shirt made it to college with John, but didn't make it much past - I kept the shirt when we broke up.

It's one of my favorite shirts. I still wear it. Frequently.

And when I do, I'm reminded that, in some situations in life, when things just plain suck, but there's no way to improve the situation, well, then, accept it and move on.

Because sometimes, sometimes, there's nothing to be done about it.