Psychologists, charged with cataloging the various dysfunctions of the human psyche, cite the two most common and prevailing neuroses of the human population: fear and laziness. Being enemies and opposites, fear and laziness can have deleterious effects on people, especially those with dreams and aspirations. People fear failure but are too lazy to do anything about it, so instead they stew in their shattered dreams and numb their self-loathing with various forms of substance abuse. And success? That can result in a train wreck as well, as Hollywood continues to show us, since once you succeed you must continue to feed the beast or drown your ego in a trail of whiskey and cocaine if you end up a one hit wonder.
Not that I have anything against success or having aspirations, but unfortunately, the side effects can often cause depression and low self-esteem, among other things, if your dreams don’t turn out how you would have hoped. Also keep in mind the simple math involved. There are more people on the planet, which means there is more talent and competition in every industry and profession than at any time in history. Even if you are the best you still could get stuck in the slush pile of other countless applicants. These gatekeepers are very mysterious and I often wonder why some get in and some don’t. Occasionally, a misunderstood genius slips through posthumously or way after his prime, as was the case with John Kennedy Toole (Confederacy of Dunces), and John Steinbeck, respectively.
And it doesn’t necessarily help your chances if you happen to come out of the right vagina. Melissa Rivers came out of her mother’s and went straight to the middle. But that’s my point: maybe being in the middle isn’t so bad? Melissa seems to be doing fine as the mediocre daughter of Joan Rivers. She gets to enjoy the riches of success without being subjected to a volatile and cutthroat career in the limelight.
Other benefits of mediocrity can extend to being a “C” student as well. You won’t have to be world-weary and depressed if you don’t know that much about the violence and misery that happens everyday in the rest of the world. We may have ended slavery in the United States, but we just outsourced it to China. But if you don’t think about it – and mediocrity requires little if any thinking – ignorance is indeed bliss. In fact, I recommend skipping the news altogether and sticking to celebrity gossip, since real news these days is scarier and gloomier than the bloodiest war movie. Plus, if you are prone to mediocrity, you can revel in bad plastic surgery and the recent hit and run by Lindsay Blohan.
I would also like to see mediocrity go beyond the bounds of corporate monotony. I was driving through High Springs, Florida the other day, which is one of the few towns in the state without a strip mall. Instead it boasts a small-town-feel with little ma’ and pa’ shops selling all types of awful things. One gallery in the heart of town doesn’t even try to hide it, with the name “Poor Taste.” My point is, you would never be able to find a 10-foot chicken statue at a Pottery Barn, now would you?
So listen up all you overachievers out there: Give yourselves a break and enjoy a little mediocrity. And please indulge my idealism for a moment: all the CEO’s destroying the planet with what they call progress, maybe it would save us all if they took a break too and played the guitar kind of badly for awhile. Robert Mugabe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il… I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like if they weren’t so ambitious?