It’s an overcast Saturday morning and I am sitting on the couch in my living room. I caught a little cold after exerting myself a little too much on Thursday playing 8-ball at work. I am now revisiting a question that has dogged me for the last half-year. Why am I not in the 1% of anything? As I look back on the things I have achieved in my life there are many worth mention but none that truly set me apart. I am the living, breathing illustration of someone who is “good enough” at many things and, yet, falling well short of excellence–let alone mastery–at everything. Having recently turned twenty-eight, and well into adulthood, I am now troubled by this possibility of living a mediocre life through and through.
That is quite a painful thing to admit. But this long concealed existential angst surfaces at exactly the time when I have arrived at a stable station in life, after solving all the mundane problems life presents. With a boatload of money at hand and a promising career ahead, there is very little stopping me from living exactly the life I want in a few years’ time. But what would that life entail? Could it be one of pure freedom? Unshackled from the duties I must perform, a burden placed on me either by others or by myself, the vision of a free life presents itself to me in the form of a great adventure: I navigate the high seas in a huge sailboat, adrift in the ocean and free of worldly concern, finding peace in the play of wind and water. Or, could it be one of excellence? In this vision I see myself devoting time and attention in the pursuit of becoming very good at a few things; a list that should include my day job, writing, and the sport of the season (skiing, mountain biking, and inline skating). Whatever the answer is, there is little stopping me from achieving that life, except fear and laziness.