"He who has his why can endure any how." - Nietzsche

Greatness, as it pertains to sport, the arts, and achievement, is the result of majestically broken individuals. It shines the most forgiving light on the most productive illnesses. I've been seduced by the pursuit of greatness. But make no mistake, all greatness is born of sickness. It is for those who dedicate their lives to unclimbable hills, who will give everything to edge their competitors, and sacrifice their sanity to make a dent in the universe. And while I do not sit on the throne of Mount Olympus gazing at the peasants below, a fire burns within me to join them at the summit. 

But, like, who gives a fuck? The podium won't bring you Gatorade and magazines when you're sick. Your trophy room won't call you on your birthday. Awards can't spoon you at night, nestling your Achilles heel between their big and long toe.

Why then? Every Olympian dedicates their life to an endeavor. They all can't be Rocky. Some of it has to be biology. Lance Armstrong has a super human lung capacity. Michael Phelps is biologically engineered like a fish. Alex Honnold's Amygdala literally doesn't fire. He is sinewy Daredevil, the man without fear. Let's leave aside the GOATs.

Let's assume it a pure meritocracy. That effort in approximates performance output. Competition measures our proximity to gods. To what extent can we leave behind our bone shelves and skin curtains and execute perfectly? 

Every GOAT necessitates a generation of losers. Imagine a world where Gauguin fucked off to the tropics and painted like shit? What fascinates me are the ones who sacrificed everything and came up short. The gamblers who bet big and had to answer to the loan sharks.

What drives a person to chase achievement rather than human connection? My first thought is that they are interrelated. People seek out the best. However, this argument quickly disintegrates under scrutiny. Experience shows us a long history of those who would leave behind personal connection for the pursuit of excellence.

Excellence is a chronic disease. Once it's infected you, there is no turning back. It's a high whose withdrawals are crippling. And anyone who's glimpsed it, who's basked in that sun, knows there is no substitute. The faint echo of greatness is a siren song louder than a Black Sabbath concert. It whispers to you like the One Ring.

My best friend's Dad once said, "We're all heroin addicts. Some of us just don't know it yet." To those who've never been haunted by the ghost of greatness, be thankful. This life is a drag.  

No comments :

Post a Comment