Three decades of mediocrity
by Brian Keaney
The other day I attended an event for a client where a shrink spoke about the emotional aspects of wealth. As part of her presentation, she had the audience do a brief exercise designed to get people thinking about how they think about money and why. The whole thing was a little too sit around and talk about your feelings for my taste, but there was one question in particular that really got me thinking. The worksheet asked what my greatest accomplishment was. I couldn’t think of anything.
To be sure I have accomplished things in my life, but I don’t know that I would call any of them great. I’ve never saved a life. I’ve never directed a best picture winning film. I’ve never written the great American novel, reconciled quantum physics with general relativity, won the Congressional Medal of Honor, cured the common cold, eliminated racism, or brought about world peace.
Since the day I was born, I’ve never done anything that millions of people before me haven’t done, and billions after me won’t do. I have a master’s degree from a pretty good school, but earning it wasn’t anything that anyone else couldn’t have done had they put the time and effort in, and besides, the fight song talks about the 10,000 men who have done the exact same thing.
On the other hand, maybe this is what I should be looking forward to. I really need to put a positive spin on what is otherwise usually a great day in July spent on the beach with my family and with cake, but I’ve been coming up short. Instead of using it as a countdown to my final day, I will use it as a countdown to my greatest day, and I’m giving myself a decade to figure out what it is and to accomplish it. July 10, 2021, look out.
It seems fitting that I should make this realization on the same day, 42 years later, that Bobby Kennedy died. In his eulogy, Ted Kennedy closed by saying that
My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.
May I be as mediocre as Bobby Kennedy was. May my next decade live out what Bobby was to those who took him to his rest, and may I help make what he wished for others some day come to pass for all the world.