Average = Fucked

carpet.jpgI am average. On a good day, I am average. On a bad day, I am average and self-absorbed. I’m having bad days lately. I had a good day yesterday when I objectively reviewed everything I had ever done. The verdict? Average, at best. In a world of 50 billion blogs, 5 billion of which are excellent, why bother writing a blog that’s average? For other average people? Impossible. Average people are average in as many ways as there are average people. Average people are usually connected to a network or community of some kind. They have their own average friends to encourage them. An average person without a network, like myself, is only writing for myself, maybe the web designer, and a dozen acquaintances who visit my blog out of sympathy.

The fact that I now recognize my averageness is a blessing. I knew it, on some level, for a long time, but tried to keep the fact at bay for the sake of sanity. I also tried to be crazy in order to avoid being average, and I succeeded. In being crazy, that is. Now I am average and crazy. My averageness lacks the one positive: a consistent sanity based on average thoughts and average activities which comfort the mind as it contemplates life from a low rung of expectation, and allows the body to relinquish its fate to average food, average sex and and an average car. Average becomes better than good because there are more average jobs, people, vacations to choose from. Possibilities for average experiences are endless. So many choices! Whilst the special people have to settle for the best of everything. Nothing else will satisfy.

A few years ago I was below average. I was able to avoid the pain of that reality by saying I was an “artist”. Artists get away with anything because they always have excuses as to why they are considered below average in all categories: looks, style, education, financial success, healthy relationships, marketable skills, mental health. All of it. Wiped off the board. “It’s okay. You’re an artist” Why don’t they just say, “It’s okay. You’re average.” and get it over with.

I wait and whine at my fate, when all I have to do is accept the secretary job at the carpet company. (Middlebury, Vermont) My problems would be solved, tout suite. I would be a good secretary for a carpet company. I can type 60 words a minute. I have a pleasant phone manner. I can take measurements and know the difference between an Oriental rug and outdoor carpeting. I could bring donuts to work for the carpet salesmen. We could laugh about awkward installations over coffee. An hour for lunch, I could go home and walk my disabled dog. If I dressed up real pretty, I’ll bet one of the balding, paunchy salesmen would fall for me, although I am over fifty. He’d say, “Oh, that Laurel is pretty silly, but she sure can type.” He would ask me to diimg_6844.JPGnner. “Meet me at the Olive Garden after work. Let’s play!”

Why not? There’s an all-you-can-eat salad bar. It’s basically the same food as anywhere else and he is the same as men everywhere else: within the average category. A big category, with endless possibilities, so there’s always the prospect of a new restaurant and a new carpet salesman.

The mistake I’ve made: not realizing the potentialities of average. The lack of envy, the offer of support and encouragement, remedial night classes, invitations to every barbecue in the neighborhood. Where to begin?

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5 thoughts on “Average = Fucked

  1. So you thought you could beat the LAW of averages? Humans cannot be excellent every day. We’re human, don’t you see?

    Culturally, we are programmed that our identity at any age is formed by what we do and what we accomplish. Placing second in the Olympics is seen as a failure. An artist without a grant or a corporate sponsor is a non-entity. There is considerable evidence that success on that level is largely random. Tiny differences in process can yield sharp differences in outcomes. Bush won, right?

    Our biased hindsight tends to make us think there is more to someone’s success than mere randomness. American media has a tendency to cast average as some sort of failure. If you calculate your value as a human being based on what medals you take home, you are bound to go crazy.

    You may be from “Middlebury” but that does not make you average. No one is average. Average is just an abstraction, a benchmark of some sort. But there are countless benchmarks. In some ways we all excel, in some ways we all are all “average.” Some people are extraordinary parents, some people are extraordinary runners. There are no ordinary people. Everyone is remarkable in their own way.

    If you try too hard, the results can be disappointing. We all have learned this the hard way. Maybe a happy life is like good improv. Don’t prepare, just keep showing up.

  2. Matt, I like the way you think, but I want money in my bank account, fuck the bastards.
    I was a fine parent, and have wonderful qualities and talents. I have so much to contribute to the planet, and I know this. But hyperbole, no matter how expressed, doesn’t make it easier for me to pay my electric bill. Now, I know that people who sell swamp land in Florida pay their electric bill easily. It may simply be that I need to begin selling swamp land. I agree that the word “average” is an abstraction, but I am
    taking liberties and suggesting it means “fucked” in that, in my world, a world experienced through my senses, there is a difference between polyester sheets and linen sheets. Now, the question is, do I hate polyester sheets enough to sell swamp land to unsuspecting consumers, or, while I’m on the subject, a ski package to a woman that will probably never ski and can’t afford to. The answer is, no. I will also not become a secretary in a carpet store. If I remain “as is” I will go to Morocco and hang out on the street with the opium dealers. in Morocco I can live on 600 dollars a month and replace all my medication with a couple of tokes in a back alley. It disturbs me that I have suddenly acquainted my life with those who do not understand that a one-way plane ticket can completely turn things around. Thank you for writing.

  3. Laurel, you make some good points. Yet, it seems evident that you value something beyond mere sensory satisfaction, else why the dilemma about the swamp land?

    I may be given to hyperbole, but is it possible you are fooling yourself with some rationalization here? As you wisely point out, artists get away with almost any complaint because they always have excuses. On the surface it would appear to me that your frustration with being average may be a similar rationalization. Plenty of average people have beat the averages and become successful.

    Why have we not succeeded? What is our excuse, our rationalization? Ultimately, who do we have to blame but ourselves?

    The world seems pretty random to me. That is my favorite rationalization at the moment. Myself, I’m tempted to rationalize my failures by writing them off to the random nature of success. But that is just another artist’s excuse.

  4. Crazy is way better than sane. Sometimes you can forget you’re average.
    We look forward to meeting you this summer.
    Kelly and Christie, the summer renters. (The not lesbian couple, unless you want us to be)

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