Posts Tagged ‘Self Help’

Self Help

I went to the self-help section
To feel less alone
I was reminded by the cool book with the blue binding
It’s called self help because, in other words, you have to be alone.
So many of us stood together alone
Here in the self-help section.

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(Originally posted Friday, March 20, 2009)

From: Michael Gooch, 15 years old, Junior High School Student, Mena, Arkansas
To: Jennifer Aniston, actress, movie star
Re: Idealism and Disillusionment

Dear Jennifer Aniston,

I’m writing because I, like you, have faced some pretty rocky times in my life. I’ve gotten some pretty bad grades. My dad’s out of work. My older sister is having her second baby out of wedlock. Sometimes I just want to curl up in a ball and die.

But then I look at you. Every time I pick up a copy of this week’s Us Magazine or People or In Style, what I read makes me horribly sick. It seems that these people won’t leave you alone. Every day they want to know the status of your relationship with John Mayer. Or how you feel about your ex-husband Brad Pitt and his great betrayal with Oscar winner and much-lauded humanitarian Angelina Jolie. I fret endlessly over these horrible factoids and pieces of gossip and all the jealousy that feeds it. And it occurs to me you at this late date, as you get older and likely more tired of the rampant tabloid speculation, that something horrible might be happening to you: that you may be losing your idealism.

I cannot let this happen, Jennifer Aniston.

I look at people everywhere suffering. They’ve been laid off. They’ve had their savings wiped out. They’re reeling from war and poverty. They are sick of corruption on Wall Street and in our nation’s capital. They see congressmen adding tons of earmarks to our nation’s necessary spending bills, and thus they lose interest in participatory government. They shudder and slump over at the sight of high food prices due to rampant inflation of commodity inputs. They see the price of education skyrocketing at three times inflation so that they can’t possibly imagine their children doing better than they did.

As for myself, I feel like I’m strong enough myself to weather these cataclysms. I take vitamins and I try to read self-help books. I see a high school guidance counselor once a week. I go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays. I say to myself every day that I’m a good person and I can take whatever the world has to dish out. I have a t-shirt that says “It’s not my business what other people think of me.” And it isn’t!

But what makes me cold is thinking of what all of these political and environmental and spiritual upheavals might be doing to you, Jennifer Aniston. It must be rending your soul to be in a roller-coaster romance with a posturing musician who seems to be greatly ambivalent about the string of hot blondes he’s dating. It must tear out your heart to hear the yellow journalists talk about your septoplasties. It must kill you to have your mother write a book about you for a substantial profit. It must make you want to plunge needles into your eyes whenever you read another article about how you’re either pregnant or gaining water weight. That’s not to mention the great existential despair you must feel when you find out how much AIG is getting in bonuses with your tax money.

The world is a hard place. I have 15 hard years to prove it. But when you’re young, you think anything is possible and you can change things for the better. Hope is a resource, and it must spring eternal, something my friends at Jenny Craig and I remind ourselves often.

What I can’t stand under any circumstances, though, is the idea that you, Jennifer Aniston, with all your talents and beauty and brains and charmed life and millions of dollars of net worth, might for one minute start to have doubt. Spiritual doubt. Philosophical doubt. Sometimes it comes through when I’m reading an interview with you: your world-weariness. The devastation you feel at personal betrayal and life’s ceaseless unfairness. The pages of Vogue practically ache and sag with your personal sorrow.

This isn’t something I can abide by. Not from the woman who played Rachel and finally got her Ross. Not from the woman whose helmet hairstyle made us all want to be her boyfriend. Not from the woman whose saint-like quality in “The Good Girl” allowed us to overlook the fact that she was playing a total slut.

If you became jaded, I don’t know what I would do. If I thought for an instant you had lost your faith in a better world, I don’t know if I myself could keep going. Sometimes I’m so torn up about the idea that you might be losing hope that I can’t do my math homework or take my insulin.

I have lots of advice for you. You have to always remember the good things about people. Even those horrible tabloid reporters and naysayers. They don’t know what they do. You’re better than they are. You are golden and perfect, even with your oft-repaired deviated septum. You have to exercise at least twice a week and try to remind yourself before you go to bed every night what good thing you did that day, even if it was just giving somebody a kind word or getting some back-end syndication money for a television appearance. You just have to pat yourself on the back once in a while like that. Also, rather than focus on the destructive capacities in mankind, think of those people who pursued goodness for its own sake: Oskar Schindler. John Rabe. Mother Teresa. Meryl Streep.

There is badness in the world, Jennifer Aniston, but to find hope, we just have to look within ourselves. If I may quote Michael Jackson, we must start with the Man in the Mirror.

Maybe you know all this or maybe you don’t, but if you didn’t, it occurred to me today that maybe somebody could save you from cynicism. If that person was me, then you don’t have to tell me. Just think of me from time to time and maybe send me an autographed picture.

Michael Gooch

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