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.