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a bridge to here

My rant against excellence will surely be seen (rightly, at least in part)as a self-serving justification of my mediocrity. Although i did have the staying power to finish my university education, a BS in math if you must know, the focus and stamina that are needed to achieve excellence in the absence of exceptional talent were already starting to desert me. The degree itself was completed out of momentum and a lack of will and imagination to resist forces set in motion long before.

Fortunately a growing ho-hum and why-bother started to counterbalance any ambitions that had been instilled. A formative experience was in a summer job seeing an old guy have his retirement party, get his gold watch, come in for another two weeks as a fill-in, decide that was enough and that very weekend have a heart attack on the golf course and croak. Hmmm. After i graduated i treated myself to a year off in Europe, which mutated into almost two years on the doper circuit in Morocco, Greece and overland to India. I had not intended to leave the bourgeois career train, but i just fell off. Seeing things i could not have imagined in my previously blinkered existence, staying on the train became unimaginable. India, religion, back to the land, dope, lifestyle, yada yada and finally Osho, to make a long story short.

I built my own house, but it has probably fallen to the ground by now, if not torn down. My music, which i dropped as uncreative, imitative, has returned to show me i can have fun with it, but excellence? In the last several years, i have developed some computer skills, thanks to a supportive existence, which i may be able to use to make a little money, but excellence? You can judge for yourself in these pages and those of Osho Pulse (there the design element). Competent, hints of professionalism but not that imaginative and somewhat crude and inattentive to the fine details that say "excellence." So don't get me to design your web page if that's what you want. (sarlo@globalserve.net)

I feel fine about myself and my underachievements. Bart Simpson has paved the way for all of us who are ambition-deficient. Such deficiency is NOT SHAMEFUL! To excel means to beat others in your field. It is competition. There is only so much room at the top of the pyramid that defines excellence in any given field, and the energy (and whatever other perhaps more ignoble qualities) required to reach the top and stay there are not granted to all of us. To that i say Hallelujah!

Playing with Competition

In the field that i gave the most energy to and had the most aptitude for, i could still not attain excellence, at least in the sense of being anywhere near the top. Bridge – yes, the card game – is about competition, pure and simple. There is much genuine talk about personal improvement and the technical and psychological aesthetics of the game but in the end it's about winning and losing. There were small triumphs and goals achieved, to be sure, but as Osho points out, the goals are like the horizon, forever receding as you advance. I can still claim – in my thoughts and dreams – that had i devoted more energy to it, i could have...[whatever] and there's some truth to that, for my quest was not one-pointed. I didn't put my total energy into it. I had other fish (tofu) to fry, and to win big you really have to commit big, to what politicians call the rubber chicken circuit. And not just rubber chickens but rubber people, with all due respect. The seriousness that comes when winning and losing are so important overwhelms the awareness that this is also just a game, played to enjoy the aesthetics of the moment. So although bridge players are not all serious, enough of them are to make this circuit unattractive. And i have become disillusioned from my idea that i could just be a dilettante and still win, or even earn the right to play with the best. I saw that it's too much work.

I have no more energy or time in my life for major pursuits wherein i can achieve excellence. Bas. Finished. I can only be excellent at being myself – whatever that means. I'll let you know when i find out. But it must include mediocrity, for if there is truth in anything, it must contain its opposite. So i'll continue to celebrate non-excellence, the path that is the goal, for i'm already here.

(main)