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

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.


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.


  1. Sounds famil­iar

  2. I have always won­dered what it is that makes some peo­ple rise ear­ly and stay out late; switch inter­ests, be first at so many things, get so deep into DOING; be able to move on with no appar­ent regret; just want to BOTHER. And how I could get some of that. But as I get old­er, all I can say is I mind it less often. I don’t seem to get more of it, or to focus, or even to like what I do instead (nap!). I won­der if they made some kind of deci­sion way back when, or if they just were born with a bat­tery that did­n’t run down at about age 2…

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