The other day while running through a dry arroyo, I saw a bunch of iron intermixed with the sand. Later on, I went back to the spot where I saw the iron, this time, I carried a strong magnet. The iron collected on the magnet like it was being tractor-beamed into heaven. What was most interesting to me about the iron collecting on the magnet wasn’t the physics involved; what came to mind the strongest was my own aging process.

See, when I was young, I was armed with the idealism that naïve youth provides. Though I’ve always known that I have talent, I figured that I’d put my talent towards improving the world. Really. I honestly believed that my capability and propensity to write would yield a career that both put food on the table and inspired people to find all that is good within themselves. As a young dude, I had all the energy and hope that life could offer.

But, as I’ve aged, I’ve witnessed and been caught in life’s tremendous pull towards mediocrity. In so many ways, I’ve become like the iron and gravitated towards that mediocre world that adulthood cherishes as a noble prize. I find my talent used towards justifying purchases of software programming tools when once I’d use my skill to develop metaphors or rhythmic poems.

In this eight-five life, though, who has the time or even cares about something as fru—fru as poetry? By the time I arrive at my house after putting in my daily time, all I want to do is plant my ever-growing behind on my chair and watch sloppy and mindless television. I don’t suppose I’m alone in this simple desire. I often run into people with whom I once spent hours playing and jamming songs now never even touch whatever instrument they once played. They, like me, work jobs that require rote thought and repetitive action. I used to think that creativity while working would be considered an asset. But it’s not. I’ve learned, finally, that the eight-five world despises creative thought and positive growth. Status quo is the end-game and growth and applied learned are enemies of the real objective.

So, I am coming to accept the fact that my life, like so many others, will latch on to mediocrity’s tractor beam. I can’t really see another option. The truth is that, when I try to change things for the better, I’m attacked and isolated. But, when I jump on board and use my writing ability to perpetuate the “norm,” I’m thanked and congratulated.

Sometimes, and with great frustration, the idealism of my youth cracks through and illuminates the mediocrity, but then, anger wells inside and I struggle with the eight-five world. I feel a kindred spirit with Don Quixote; when I rant about changing the world, I have no doubt that everyone hears my rants and knows I’m fighting windmills.

Therefore, without prejudice or passion, I am learning to accept my fate on the magnet of mediocrity.