Funny is it not? such a robust and energetic start I had. I grant you that.
I’m great at that; running off the rails like there’s no tomorrow.
I’m actually good at keeping things going, too. At least if you want to factor in the work ethic I had hammered into me–the one that says “keep mindlessly and dutifully allowing your soul to be sucked away piecemeal”–in an endlessly useless, fruitless, and barren wasteland of hapless idealism, warped polyanna doctrines, and Stepford-level stupidity on the first floor of interpersonal accounting.
Try as I might, I cannot seem to shake what I call the “Bail of Hay” maxim. By this I mean the following, pessimistic algorithm, and how I truly believe it has some sort of transcendental value over my exploits.
It works like this: I am a free and reasonably happy traveler, cruising unencumbered on life’s Route 66 in a convertible. Wind blowing through my hair, sign ahead says “Destination 10 miles.”
Right above me, a C130 cargo hold accidentally releases a rogue bail of hay at the mile elevation. By all reasonable calculations, the chances of all factors–wind resistance, trajectories, velocity and the sort, should run the probabilities into nearly infinitesimal levels that I will be struck.
Yet, time and time again, it seems, probabilities seems to have some kind of oversight committee behind them.
SOMEBODY’S got an abacus–and a front-row seat to my angst.
Then, of course is the mirror. 47 isn’t really that old, but it certainly doesn’t excite the central creative vortexes out there–you know–the ones that need to deem anything you do as marketable? I mean I started this thing thinking I had some kind of rhetorical x-factor–that I have some special finesse to the word that sets me apart.
Yeah. Right . . .
Look around–there’s a million other carpers out there, saying the same cutesy-fied crap I’m hammering out. Just in some other fashion. Getting above the noise is . . . well, subject to algorithms I don’t control (see: Bail of Hay).
Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus’ talentless bully-pulpit makes millions . . .
I can’t even formulate the contiguous flow I usually have for these things. In short, I’m finally coming to realize something that someday I hope I can just suck up, shut up, and internalize beforeI die:
Extraordinary ability means nothing. And in my case, attaching any transcendent meaning to it has been the biggest mistake of my life.
And a snipe hunt of embarrassing proportions.
I’d have to disagree with you, Ron. I think you do have ability, and what it takes to succeed, however you define success. Whether you have extraordinary ability, or not, I don’t know you well enough to say. I’m willing to bet your talent is above average, though. I can identify with the “47” age comment, being a little bit older myself. Google Malcolm Gladwell’s article on “Late Bloomers” in the New Yorker. I’m making some major changes at 50, and it is a lot of hard work (I had the same work ethic instilled into me). Gladwell’s book, “Outliers” is also a good read and deals with how extraordinary ability doesn’t necessarily mean a person will succeed at something. One of my favorite existential writers once said, “The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.” Keep at it, my friend, and do it for the joy of writing rather than for succeeding, and in that way you will be a success.