The magnet of mediocrity is pulling me in…

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.

  1. This phenomenon can be seen in so many contexts. In Australia (and I suspect most places, but I’ll only speak from my experience) to advance your career in education you don’t need to be an excellent teacher – that will only get you so far; then you need to be an excellent bureaucrat or builder or economist or business manager. Sucks, huh?

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light, my friend …

    1. That’s EXACTLY my point! I could be the best teacher or system architect or writer in the world, but if i don’t know (which i don’t) how to be a politician or a wretched bureaucrat, i will struggle to get by…stupid.

      I’m trying not to succumb to mediocrity’s pull, but man, i’m getting tired….thanks for getting it, though!

      1. No probs. The Greens party in my mother’s town tried to encourage her to run for local council this week. She refused, because she believes people in public life should have “financial know-how”. In my opinion, my mother’s perfectly capable of doing this: she’s sat on the board of a private school in the past, for example; and I also pointed out that she would be part of a party, and others could have the financial skills she feels she lacks, while she drives the ideas and morals of the agenda … but no 🙁 I couldn’t persuade her. I know this isn’t exactly what we’re talking about, but I think it’s related.

        Not that I can talk. I’ve started taking business administration classes, lol 🙂 If I don’t puke too much and actually end up finding the study interesting, I’ll complete an MBA, otherwise I’ll exit early at graduate certificate or diploma level. I just figure that when I do re-enter the workforce, I know I’ll need to be able to demonstrate business and financial management skills, and I figure this is the quickest and easiest way to do this. I never thought *I’d* be studying an MBA!!!

  2. Me and my friends used to collect those iron shavings (perhaps in the same exact arroyo) and put them into shoe boxes. Then we would take them home and get all the bits of sand out of it. By putting the magnet under the box we used to make the iron ore move around and stand up and do all sorts of weird things – we made it “dance”. It was really fun for us as little boys.
    But what a great picture of the mediocrity of life. The magnet truly does pull me towards that end however much I DON’T want to go there. I find myself enjoying the tiny pleasures in life when they do happen; my child saying something funny; playing music when I have a bit of time; going to the mountains; talking to people; listening to people; and sometimes someone says something or even you can say something to another that makes life just that more fulfilling.
    Even though the magnet of mediocrity pulls us towards it, we really can have fun with the process and dance around a bit while it’s happening.