I’ve come to accept that I’m not going to grow back the hair on my head. Hair that’s been away on a several year vacation. I’m never going to be six feet-two inches tall – that’s become okay in my mind. Yet, there are a few other areas in which I still have a bit of a way to go.
In a recent discussion with writing friends, I was lamenting my desire to be a better writer. I spoke of those “Wow” moments that often come to me when I read Joseph Conrad or Barry Lopez. I’m sure you all know what I mean; those sentences that hold such beauty and perfection that they stop you in your tracks. Those same wow moments that never come when I’m rereading my own writing.
My wonderful friends that heard my pitiful entreaty, gave back words of understanding, encouragement and kindness. “Don’t judge yourself against others.” or to paraphrase, “Be patient.” Good and wise words from good and wise people.
Later that evening I came upon something by happenstance that seemed to speak to the issue from earlier in the day. The author Will Schwalbe had this to say about mediocrity. “Mediocrity isn’t crass or shoddy or vulgar, It’s, well, mediocre. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not bad.” He went on to say, “When you embrace mediocrity, you embrace humility – you learn to see that no matter how good you are at something, the world probably has people who are more talented at it than you. You can strive to learn from people who do things better, or at least appreciate them. By definition, most of us are mediocre, and everyone is mediocre at something.”
So where does that leave me and all those others out there that desire and strive to be just a bit above the rest of the herd?
I became a drummer (I’ve often said I’m not a musician, I’m a drummer) when I was about fifteen. I’ve played in many bands since those teen years and it’s always been fun. Even as a mediocre drummer, it was fun.
I played tennis for thirty years. In my best days I was a mid-pack 4.0 player. I won some tournaments and I lost in many. In hindsight, my tennis days were fun. Even as a mediocre tennis player, they were fun.
Do I ever wish I played drums like Steve Gadd or Joe Morello, of course. Do I wish that just once, I’d hit one topspin backhand like Roger Federer does on a daily basis? Absolutely.
Now I write; not like John Steinbeck, Barbara Kingsolver or Tolstoy. I write at the level I’m at right now. I will always attempt to get better. I will try to one day write a WOW sentence. When I do, I will stop and try to appreciate it. I will then buckle down and try and write another one.
Until that day happens, I will also try and accept that my mediocracy is not a curse. It’s a place where I currently sit until I’m able to rise up to a higher stool.
Until the, I plan to enjoy the view. Go well, David