Tuesday, April 2, 2013

 As Americans we are infused with idealism that one person can change the world.  We see it.  We know it is real; the stuff of legend.  In America, we are all legends in our own minds.  It is what we are taught.    Every child can grow up to be president of the United States.  If we work hard, we can do anything we want.  This is our operative myth; powerful and compelling.  Every once in a while there is a reinforcing realization, “A black kid with big ears and a funny name becomes president.”  A kid from Blue Springs wins American Idol.  Someone we knew in College is rich.  There are, in a century, twenty five opportunities to become President of the United States.  I don’t know how many children are born in the United States in a century, but I kind of figure the odds are slim. One percent of Americans control ninety nine percent of the wealth.  I don’t want to say something can’t happen.  I am idealistic and romantic by nature.  But I am also real enough to know that dreams of miraculous deliverance from obscurity are realized by a statistically discouraging few.  So the other side of the myth is what about all of us who live our lives in relative obscurity?   How do we come to terms with being anonymous?  We redefine.  We narrow our parameters of success  to manageable (realistic) parameters.  Success becomes relative to our circumstances.  This is sane, I think, and necessary.  We can’t all win.  I remember thinking in my college years. “If I can’t be notorious, I want to at least be authentic.”  I still think that way.  More and more I see myself as ineffectual on a cultural level.  The world is run by people on stage.  I am just in the audience, or at home, or off on some little errand.  I can piss and moan about what the bozos are doing.  But it doesn’t really matter.  They aren’t listening to me.  I have no effect upon the decision makers.   I have vanity.  I would love to be discovered and heralded as suddenly relevant.  I would love to wake one day and discover I have a voice in the conversation of important issues.  But I also have humility.  And I know that there are ten thousand other people who would say what I would say better.  Who have earned more right to speak up than I have?  And I am ok with that.  I am ok with letting the universe be what it is, and letting myself be anonymous in it.  A leave of grass.  A figure in a crowd.  Or a man at home making eggs and bacon for my daughters.  It is ok to just be what I am.  And to let the world be what it is.  I love the American Dream.  I love to see it realized, and cheer that on.  But I also love to come to feel the peace of acceptance.  The simplicity of simply breathing.    

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