Rob wanted me to come to a planning meeting for Freedom Place today. I didn’t have anything else to do, so short notice was ok. Only three of the teens showed up, I don’t know if they were the only ones invited, so maybe that was a hundred per cent turn out.

The meeting itself was pretty straight forward, looking at the past for success and failure, looking to the future to continue and increase success and minimize failure. Considering that this is a after school program for high schoolers and that it seems to attract a very similar set of demographics, and the volunteer group includes a high school teacher, I’m witness to first hand accounts of how messed up life is for some people. My life? Not perfect. My adolescence wasn’t perfect, but it was much more than a couple steps better than how some of these kids have it. It’s several flights of stairs and a short elevator ride.

It probably wouldn’t be right to go into details for any or all of the kids that I’ve heard in the years I’ve been helping out with Freedom Place, but dang, there have been so few stories that are something like some girl saying “My dad took me [here] for my birthday, it was a great time,” instead the stories are about alcoholism or abuse or obvious mental health issues, or abandonment or absentee parents.

Life isn’t perfect. Anyone who thinks it is, can only see inside of the few moments in life when it feels that way. Anyone who says that it is all the time is obviously mental. I don’t expect every story to be sunshine and puppy dog tails. I just want a handful more that are, to give me reassurance that life doesn’t suck so bad for everyone.

I remember a time when my mom was asking about why people complain so much. Neither my mom or me are above complaining, we both do it, but some people are chronic complainers. I answered her with the fact that pain is more universal to people than pleasure. Everyone experiences the pleasures in life vastly differently than pain. I don’t have any scientific studies to back this claim up, I just know.

Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate this is that people have preferences. A person likes rice, but not corn. A person likes to live in a cool place, but not a warm place. A person likes red shirts over orange shirts. Because the things they like give them a certain degree of pleasure. Other people have different preferences, which gives diffrent degrees of pleasure. Pain, on the other hand, is pretty much across the board, the same. No one likes a stick in the eye. No one likes having their foot shattered when the jack slips. No one likes hemorrhaging from the scalp.

No desire for all stories to be pleasant. I just want a few more to round things out.