Tonight as I was nomming on some so-so pizza, I was absently watching a Linda Ellerbee political special the kids had on Nickelodeon. Barack Obama and John McCain were answering kids' questions, although it was about as spontaneous as a state funeral. One of the questions was from a boy who asked if the candidates had ever been picked last for anything. McCain answered that he had been picked last at times, and he thought the thing to do in that situation was to fight that much harder, do better than your best, show them that they were wrong for picking you last.

I thought about this. It is not the answer I would have given. It is so...scrappy little guy.

I have been last a few times in my life, not often, but still. It is a really crappy feeling, particularly for someone like ME who wants to be best and first and such just by the virtue of my natural awesomeness. But sometimes, you gonna be last whether you like it or not, whether it is fair or right or whatever. You have to take your turn down at the bottom of the shitpile.

What bothered me about McCain's response was this: what if being last was the honest place you should be? What if trying your hardest and "showing them" would never do a damn bit of good, and you are still gonna suck? This whole "them" thing is just the worst. WHO CARES? Isn't it more reasonable just to do the best you can, and accept that you indeed might just be an awful soccer player or bowler or middle manager or astronaut or matador? Try to do well, try to do better, appreciate your own effort and admire those who are striding past you this time. I find that more graceful than whipping yourself up into a red-faced frenzy of trying to prove something to others.

How much mental anguish is spent during the course of a lifetime thinking and worrying and fretting about what THEY think? So you were picked last. Someone thought your skills were lacking, or they didn't know what you could do, or you looked weird. If you have an accurate understanding of your own value, this should not be such a big deal. THEY shouldn't have that kind of power. YOU should know that you do some stuff wonderfully, some just OK, and sometimes you are just lame.

John McCain's answer told me a lot about him. Just that one small thing. Last sometimes lasts a lifetime inside.