Because of our confirmation bias, it seems like things tend to happen when we don’t want them to. It’s not Murphy’s Law, it’s just that we don’t notice things all the time.
For example, two weeks ago, I was getting cat food in at the pet store. They had the usual pet adoption agency there and they had what is the only puppy I have ever seen that I wanted to keep. It was a blue merle great Dane/Catahoula mix. We can’t get a dog and I still like the idea of having a dog more than the actual practice of having a dog. But it seemed like everything that happened for the next two weeks reminded me of that puppy.
We went to Target. As I was waiting for my wife to make her selection, a book was lying on the shelf near me (in the baking section). It was a book on puppies. Petsmart sent me an e-mail with a 50% off new puppy package deal. Another friend gets a new puppy. It’s a pattern that really doesn’t mean anything, I just happened to really notice all these puppy related things because I happened to see a puppy I wanted. Heck, Petsmart sends out that same e-mail twice a week.
That’s a really long introduction to what I wanted to write about today. Accomplishments. Larry over at Atheist Intermarried posted an article about how many people did all these amazing things, then died before the age he reached today. That sense of underachievement is totally understandable. It happens to me a lot.
When I was a little boy, I dreamed of being an astronaut or a paleontologist*. I’ve actually done work in paleontology, so that’s kind of close. But I’m no Donald Prothero or Stephen J. Gould.
I mention Prothero specifically because he massively depressed me yesterday. It’s not his fault. I’m working on a book. This time, I am going to write, finish and publish a [insert various expletives here] book. Unlike all the other actual times I’ve started this process… I am going to finish it.
Unfortunately, Prothero just published a book with a similar topic. AARRGGHH!!! (No, it’s not a damn pirate book!)
Last night, I took part in a game tournament. I enjoy the game, but I ended up playing the top-tier guys with top-tier decks and got my rear handed to me. I won one match and was gifted a second win because my opponent didn’t show. Out of five, that’s not so great. I’m sad about that, I really want to be good at the game. But I’m not.
So, yesterday was a very depressing day for me. And while this may seem like whining or looking for a pat-on-the-back**, it’s really not. My community of friends has come through and lifted me up a bit.
Then this morning, I read this article about poor, misunderstood Ron Weasley. Yes, THAT Ron Weasley. He was portrayed poorly in the movies (which I didn’t like that much) compared to the books (which were better than the movies). But Ron couldn’t have been all that bad… he ended up marrying Hermione after all.
OK, back to the point.
We are all unique. There are seven billion of us on this planet. I guarantee you that whatever you are best in, someone out there is much, much better than you. That’s the way it is. Not everyone can be a massively prolific writer or a great scientist or anything else. Just like not everyone can be a billionaire CEO or an astronaut or a football star.
We (and by this, I mean ‘me’) have to learn to accept that I have some skills, knowledge, and abilities. The particular combination of those that I have is probably unique. I bet I could kick Prothero’s ass in a game of Ogre!
And, as my friends commented to me this morning. Write the damned book. You have your own unique take on it. You write very humorously (if not very grammatically correctly). Finally, the point is not to be in a competition with anyone else. It’s about doing something that you love and that you want to do.
Me, with a job (unrelated to what I blog and write about) and a family and other obligations, will just not be able to write as prolifically as some other people who part of their job is to write about these kinds of things. Likewise, I won’t be able to be an expert in a game because I don’t have the practice time, money, and just talent for it. I can still enjoy those things, even if I’m not the best.
* According to legend, my 5-year-old self once stunned a guy at Winchell’s Donuts by reciting the various species and attributes of dinosaurs. I was dinosaurs before dinosaurs were cool. My mom made a Stegosaurus stuffed animal for me because they didn’t exist at the time.
** I have a very fragile ego. I’ve told my boos that if someone doesn’t tell me how wonderful I am every few days, I get depressed. Which is true enough.