In this day and age it seems grounded and healthy to sit back and enjoy life. To relish the simple things. To be content with the day-to-day stuff. It seems appropriate to immerse oneself in the pleasures of being human, the joys of life, the character-building sorrows, the little things from which greater things are made.
It seems natural to let life flow and not obsess over it, not stress and fret over it, to allow things to pass and pursue one’s goals with the dignity of personal limitation. No more grandeur and empire, they’re not good for you. Humility is the new greatness, a virtue one must aspire to, they say. Castles in the sand are what one builds when one chases after ghosts in the light of day, in the dead of night. Not a good way to go about life. A waste of time. It’s bad for your health, they say. It’s better to stop worrying and not be strained.
They’re wrong. Reasonable and noble as the argument sounds, it’s nothing but ashes, smoke offerings in the aftermath of lifetimes spent chasing ghosts, without reprieve. Generation upon generation in pursuit of every thing fleeting and impossible were spent for life to arrive where it is now. Those who say otherwise are lazy opportunists riding on the coattails of their progenitors’ success. Unworthy successors acting righteous and holy and preachy, and consumed with the merits of surrender.
These entitled little heirs, be they of aristocratic or common heritage, forget that a world without ghost-chasing and dead-of-night wandering, without obsessing and stressing and wheeling and dealing in the mill of time, a world without the fury of ambition, without curiosity or friction, is a world colder and deader than the void of space; a meaningless, fruitless, bland, insipid world where mediocrity doubles for humility in a mindset steamrolled by propriety, creating stencils for posterity. Goodbye life, hello contained existence. Hello smiley prison.
They forget that a prison is a prison is a prison, no matter how many smiley faces you slap across it and how many holier-than-thous you wrap it in.
They forget that light is valuable because shadow provides the contrast necessary for it to shine bright and salient across one’s mind.
They pretend that not pursuing one’s excessive aspirations is an honorable thing to do, claiming that excess is bad, everything that isn’t humble is bad, and hide behind cliches and platitudes. They make up excuses behind which they hide, and pretexts, they find pretexts for excusing their excuses, pretending to be humble, pretending to be doing the right thing, the hard thing, by the grace of modesty.
The harsh reality is, and Time will confirm this without fail — ask him — the harsh reality is that acting small and simple is the stuff of breakdown and retirement, interludes and intermissions, not missions and advancement. One cannot move forward and make any kind of impact by being easily content and humble. What keeps the world moving beyond the confines of yesterday’s limitations are risk and opportunity. Change can only come through increased expectation, extending one’s reach beyond what is immediately available. Take a risk or two, or more, many more, go after a fleeting vision, a dream, maybe a delusion of the superlative kind, inspirational in every way, daring to leave behind all that is precious and holy, everything that defines a good person, and be selfish without end, steadfast, mad, and obsess over insane ideas because that’s where the difference is made, in the whirlwind of insanity, if by insanity we mean the notion to go throw caution to the wind and go against the odds. If we mean to do something truly different, something of unique value.
Or we could just stay put, hanging from the branch of a tree, happy, smiley and unmistakably obsolete.
Intrigued? Watch this space for more.
From the collection of writings EON: THE ANGRY COMING OF AGE