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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I always liked that Clint Eastwood quote that tells us that a “man’s got to know his limitations.” There is a lot of weight to that quote and it is something I have tried to live my life by. Unfortunately, I don’t always remember Clint when I get all worked up and things can tend to get out of hand.

When people talk about a support network, there are usually images of institutional gatherings in sterile rooms with people who talk to their left index finger and comb their hair with a toothbrush. I used to write columns that tried to impart life lessons in the hopes that they would help people to find the answers they were looking for. I got away from that for a while, but I want to get back to it.

A support group is any network of people you rely on to understand your limitations and then talk you out of stupid things. A few years ago, my support network was my wife and son and those two were severely overworked. After a while, I could see the frustration on their faces so I tried to tone me down.

Thanks to Facebook, I reconnected with old friends and my support network grew. I had people I could bounce things off of and that really helped. I even reconnected with my older brother, who I had only seen and talked to off and on for years, and now I know I can shoot him a message when I need to.

Since then, my support group has expanded even more to include people who know how to talk me down from the bell tower. Most times, I get talked down in time to prevent all damage from happening. Sometimes I damage myself a little, but I can recover. But my support network has never let me get myself into so much trouble that I could not come back from it. For that, I am grateful.

I am pretty sure that the two most important parts of my support network, aside from my wife and son, know who they are. I am also pretty sure that at least once a week they think to themselves either A) “I am going to slap this guy if he doesn’t stop doing this” or B) “Oh God, here we go again.” Yet every time I climb that bell tower, they are there to talk me down.

Unfortunately I am the Quasimodo of life as I seem to really like bell towers. I climb them a lot and I really do not mean to. I put a lot of pressure on my support network, but it is big enough now to spread out the damage and try to prevent people from just giving up and walking away. That is a huge fear of mine, but unfortunately that fear does not stop me from cranking the key in the lock and climbing that bell tower again.

What about you? Are you trying to get through life without a support network? Do you ignore your support network to the point where it doesn’t care if it helps you or not? It doesn’t matter how secure or in control you think you are, everyone needs a support network. Whether it is just one person or, like in my case, a small army.

If you know you make rash decisions, then you need a support network. The more rash you are, the harder a support network is to find. Trust me, I know. But you need it if you are going to get through life without blowing up everything that matters to you.

That is the other part that people do not seem to understand; things do matter to me. Just because I tend to act first and think second doesn’t mean I don’t care. If the rest of the world saw just a fraction of what my network prevents from getting out there, there would be a crowd with pitchforks and torches at my door. So to my entire support network, I am eternally grateful and, unfortunately, I will be putting you to the test again very soon.

Don’t go through life, as complicated as it has become, without a support network. But at the same time, take your time in determining who you can trust and who you cannot. When you finally get the right network in place, it can literally save your reputation. If you try to get through all of this on your own, then you may not have much left to protect.

George N Root III is a Lockport resident and complete buffoon. His column appears every week and is carefully edited by someone who knows better.

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