“You didn’t always need to be the dazzler, the firecracker, the one who cracked everyone up, or made everyone want to sleep with you, or be the one who wrote and starred in the play that got a standing ovation. You could cease to be obsessed with the idea of being interesting”
– Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings
Sometimes I think we live in an age of amazing exceptionalism. Entrepreneurs creating transformative things, athletes performing beyond their abilities, artists creating mind blowing spectacles. All of this greatness is available to us as never before, in a constant stream of updates, pictures, videos on demand, and blog post analyses. Never has greatness seemed so . . . close and attainable.
Except maybe it is not. Maybe it only appears so close yet in reality is as far away as ever. Maybe all that greatness is solely the result of outliers (the ones that “burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars”), not normals, the same as it ever was, it only appears now that they are within the grasp of most of us because we can consume that greatness much more easily and often. Maybe I am just talking about how it’s not within my own grasp.
But also maybe all of this is ok. Greatness, or being exceptional, may simply lie for most within ourselves, not in what we do. Yet, we still are a required piece of the puzzle. We play as important a role as anyone else, albeit a different one, and as a result we don’t, or shouldn’t, spend too much time obsessed with being “interesting.”
We can’t all be poets, David Carradine once remarked. But, if we cannot be a poet, he added, we can all be the poem itself. That’s just as interesting, and within reach, for me.