“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”― Henry David Thoreau
I would consider myself a disciple of HDT (sorry to all you JC followers). I have spent my entire life wondering if I am special or if I am living my life in “quiet desperation” as Henry David described. Honestly, I think the later.
I will make the natural assumption that to a handful of people I am “special”, to my wife (most days), my children (all days), my mother ( I am her only son), my sisters (when I remind them that I am Mother’s only son), my Dad (when he remembers that I can do no wrong at least according to my Mother). But the question remains, am I special? After 55 years I still don’t have the answer to this question.
I have expected more out of life. Progress Einstein’s Theory of Relativity? No, I don’t do big math. Answer Descartes method of doubt? I have my own. Write the sequel to Dylan’s Maggie’s Farm? I was never sure why he was working there in the first place. Let Kerouac know that I have the solution to his vision of individuality. I may be a loner but I am certainly in no position to answer the questions of the greatest loner in the world. So why am I here? As Steve Martin asked in the movie The Jerk “What is my special purpose?” I have no idea, and sadly, it seems, I am running out of time to discover it.
Maybe I am looking in the wrong places? Maybe it has been right in front me and I just haven’t discovered it, or I can’t see it. I don’t play the guitar like Keith Richards, I can’t paint like Van Gogh, and I haven’t created a prose masterpiece like Robert Frost. I guess I never will. Is it enough that I am who I am a son, a husband, a father? Or is there more?
Am I fooling myself? That I am really just a simple-minded common man, like the millions of other simple-minded common men walking the face of the earth. Standing inline with me at Starbucks. Waiting for a burger at McDonald’s. Picking our noses at the stoplight. How will I be remembered? What will be my contribution? Did I just take up space? Or did I improve the space I was gifted?
Life is funny. The questions are many, the answers are guesses, and there is never enough time to discover the truths. Let the Merlot flow. Maybe the solution can be found at the bottom of the bottle, or after the second cork I pop. Good night.