equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
26 Apr 06

My Average Life

You ever read any Nietzsche?

Nietzsche says there are two kinds of peo­ple in the world. People who are des­tined for great­ness, like Walt Disney, and Hitler. And then there’s the rest of us. He called us “The bun­gled and the botched”.

We get teased. We some­times get close to great­ness, but we never get there.

We’re the expend­able masses.

—Jack Lucas, The Fisher King

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When I lis­ten to this song, a post-hardcore blend of catchy, melodic gui­tar lines and tech­ni­cal scream­ing, a feel­ing washes over me. I rec­og­nize it immediately.

Envy.

It’s the other, other, Jeff’s band, and he fits the eccen­tric rock­star per­sona to a tee. His clothes are all tight-fitting, thrift-store finds and Sally Ann recy­clables. Even his frames are a mod­ern­ized ver­sion of the old-school bad-boy sun­glasses. An unas­sum­ing type until you talk to him about his music, and then he’s a gal­va­nized, ani­mated per­son. He spends his money on stu­dio hours, and his free-time lay­ing down tracks, mix­ing songs, jam ses­sions. I don’t even know the name of his band.

I do know that this song is a huge improve­ment over the mate­r­ial he gave me a month ago. The struc­ture is less exper­i­men­tal, the sound is more pol­ished. The result of a new drum­mer, and redone vocals. Jeff’s goal is to get his name out there, win a record­ing con­tract, and spend the rest of his life mak­ing music. I can already tell that he’ll catch the atten­tion of the right per­son at the right time.

The envy burns a hole in my chest.

Knowing that this young man, in his mid-20s, is going some­where, is what fuels it. He has the ambi­tion, the abil­ity, the mind­set to achieve great­ness, while I remain one of the many.

If I had the time, the money, the ambi­tion, I’d do the same. I’d be a direc­tor. A pho­tog­ra­pher. Things I think I’d be great at. Instead, I sim­ply use video and pho­tog­ra­phy to doc­u­ment my life, as an extra form of expres­sion over the writ­ten word. As a result, my desire to improve is solely dri­ven by my per­fec­tion­ist atti­tude, not a desire to be great or to make money. I under­stand that to become one of the few is an invest­ment of one’s entire life, and the risks of doing so are severe. Too severe.

It’s my choice to live like this: risk-free and secure. It’s a part of my per­son­al­ity. I invest in gov­ern­ment bonds over stock. I’m a 9-to-5 guy, who doesn’t like going out on week­days, whose pri­mary goal is to pay off the mort­gage before I retire. My great­ness is a steady pay­cheque, a cat who jumps on my lap, and eight full hours of sleep. I enjoy the sim­ple things, and sat­is­fac­tion with what I have.

And I real­ize that not know­ing the name of Jeff’s band is a sub­con­scious choice I make. That way, there’s less chance I’ll learn of his suc­cess when I’m read­ing the paper.

Less chance I’ll be reminded of how aver­age my life is.

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05 Mar 06

A Jumble Of Emotions

I’ve been a jum­ble of emo­tions lately. A mix of excite­ment and worry, fun and stress, unset­tling uncer­tainty and crossed-signals. On top of it all I keep get­ting all sorts of BULLSHIT from peo­ple, when it’s the last thing I need.

I gen­er­ally don’t like this feel­ing. To grow, and this is espe­cially true for me, one needs a foun­da­tion of sta­bil­ity. Once the basic things are con­stant, there can be changes and adjust­ments made to improve. Now I find myself strug­gling to keep the sim­plest things under control.

It’s cer­tainly been an inter­est­ing year so far.

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24 Feb 06

The Return (Hiatus 1: Octave)

We move in cir­cles
Balanced all the while
On a gleam­ing razor’s edge

A per­fect sphere
Colliding with our fate
This story ends where it began

—Dream Theater, Octavarium

Back to this.

So much has passed, yet noth­ing seems to have changed. I’ve never gone this long with­out writ­ing an entry. For a while there, I didn’t mind. Didn’t mind not forc­ing myself to sit and write at every free moment. Didn’t mind my life not being taken over by this.

Now it feels like I’m in the mid­dle of a tran­si­tion. So much is hap­pen­ing around me, with so much to do, while my emo­tions remain neu­tral as if I don’t know what to think. There’s hasn’t been enough sta­bil­ity yet, or per­haps I haven’t been able to sit down to write and think about what’s going on. I’m ready now.

It’s been 33 days.

I def­i­nitely missed this.

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