An eventful week. I’m not sure whether to laugh or grimace over what has happened, but I’m not one to truly linger over how I affect people. My time is better spent reminding myself why I stopped caring about those matters. When did I stop being human?
Birth. The obvious answer is birth.
Who gets offended on a daily basis is a toss-up. I don’t know who I’m going to meet, nor do I know the situation that will present itself. What I do know is that every moment exists in both a vacuum and part of a larger narrative. The goal remains the same: be as consistent as possible. Executioners are given a job to kill the condemned; if the executioner has a change of heart, he’s fired, and the condemned will still die. I don’t see myself as an executioner, but rather as a functionary of the system. And that makes me smile.
It also makes other people smile, such as the social dance party that I attended tonight. Once a semester, we gather, we dance, we reconnect with the past. Everyone takes their familiar places. Everyone exchanges the customary greetings. Everyone talks about how rusty they are, how their bones don’t move the way they used to, and how the new faces outnumber us. And then we get cranky enough to remind the new faces that we were here first, therefore we are still the best. My friends dress like professionals or closer to the party’s theme. I’m expected to be the rock star of the group. I’ve always been the rock star of every group I’ve been in. Tonight’s no different. Zebra pants. Glimmery shoes. Title belt. A dismissive sneer to the uninformed. And a voice that barks instructions to a filled room. People are skeptical, yet when I march to the front of the room, taking my customary position of center-left with my fellow squadmates flanking my sides, the new recruits understand that I am the leader. Handshakes and congratulations ensue. We’ve never seen you before, but we’re glad you’re here. I sign autographs. I invite all to partake in post-dancing feasting. A packed house follows the leader. That’s just how it works.
Towards the end of the night, or more accurately, towards the break of dawn, storytime commences. I always tell stories of past campaigns, present endeavors, and futures past. There are plenty of laughs, stunned faces, and deadpan cynicism. There’s excitement and marvel because people haven’t lived my life. I’ll always contend I’m closer to Forrest Gump than any other fictional character. Not to the extent of a learning disability of course, but Gump was an average man who was always near history. I’m not a chiseled jaw, muscular hulking hero. I’m just the first person to arrive on the scene. That in itself doesn’t make me a leader. I’m a leader because I’m committed to authenticity.
That’s the complexity about being a leader. Sometimes, you have to be boisterous and assert that you’re the best. Other times, you have to listen and guide from a distance. I’ve been doing the latter lately, because it’s easier on my blood pressure and easier on the people I lead. The symmetry in these disparate actions is that everyone knows the buck stops with you. I am the leader among each circle of friends. I start the fire, which is probably the most crucial part of being a leader. I am a cautionary tale regarding what happens when you play with fire. Sometimes, the fire leaves me with burns. Sometimes, I become the fire. Everytime, I have no problem looking for the fire. There are always casualties when being a leader, when being authentic, when being committed to the cause. Over the last few months, I have excommunicated people that I have shared moments with because of authenticity concerns. While not ideal, every person has to make a choice. Some people become victims of their choices. Those same people were not at the table last night, despite years of being there before. But I can’t dwell those who are absent, because my time is better spent celebrating with those who are here. I don’t have the highest number of friends, but it’s not due to my gruff nature. My selectivity rate concerning friends is somewhere equal to Harvard’s acceptance rate. I don’t force people to come to my side. Whenever I hold court, people attend because they want to be there. And I love holding court with a group of eager spectators. Skibbedebebop. Much later.
Current Track – Outasight “Now or Never”