Looking in the mirror this morning whilst shaving my aged face (not a common occurrence), an errant thought entered my brain. But, unlike a cosmic ray, it didn’t leave and consequently didn’t take a small proportion of my cognitive abilities with it, thereby leaving me capable of pressing keys in something approaching the right order.
I thought that, by my age and younger, famous people have made millions. And by famous, I mean famous for a reason; actors, sportspeople, entrepreneurs and the like, famous for making the best use of their talents.
Take Michael Schumacher, who retired from Formula 1 after fifteen years, 68 pole positions, 91 race wins and seven World Drivers titles and pretty much every conceivable F1 record, all in just 250 race starts1.
The sad thing about Life is that most people either never find out what it is that they can do well or don’t have the freedom or courage to follow their dreams. There must be millions, nay, billions of people out there who either have no idea what they are good at, or know perfectly well what it is but are unable or unwilling to go for it.
It’s another sad triumph of Reality visiting another crushing defeat on Possibility; another 20-0 humping of the Sunday League pub side by the Premiership professionals. For out of those millions who do know what floats their boat, only a few thousand are probably in a situation where they can afford to take the plunge and go a new direction without starving to death and having your house, family and pets repossessed. Those who don’t are just plain lazy, so I’m glad we don’t get to hear about them.
All in all, it’s a depressing thought, so don’t have it. Maybe that’s why we like soaps so much. British soaps, which I don’t watch but which are pervasive to the point of being classed as an airborne contagen, cover the bleak, strife-ridden lives of the downtrodden, something which the Learning and Skills Council have been complaining about.
If TV tells us that everyone else out there is stuck in dead-end jobs, its hardly likely that anyone else will go “I could do that!”, unless they’re the people who really want to run a stall in Walford market.
So, soaps and post-imperial malaise can explain the Britsh lack of gumption. We need a cliff; some event or advance that will enable us to convert all this potential into kinetic, into action. Please, please don’t go jump off a cliff. It was a metaphor. So please, please do jump off it metaphorically. I’ll hold your hand. We’ll jump together.
I watched Batman Begins last night (which is excellent) where the question “Why do we fall?” is asked, the answer being “So we can learn how to pick ourselves up.” In Britain, at least, we’re collectively still hugging our skinned knees and sobbing. We just need someone or something to say “Stop being a such a baby”.
So, people of the world, stop crying, get up and make2 Life give you what you want.
1 I’ll let you decide whether he was a legend or a cheating Kraut.
2 “make” as in “work hard, get rewarded”, not “complain until they pay you to STFU“.