When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me that there was nothing worse than being average. Being left in the dust, he said, a complete failure in every sense of the word was better than being middle of the road. The way he had it figured, those who were always having it stuck to ’em, the ones who were really hurting, getting nowhere fast- they were the ones who really knew what it meant to be alive. He told me that the guys in last place were always working extra hard, not to get ahead so much as to just survive. There was a knowledge you got from last place, he told me, a cathartic kind of longview that made you thankful for your place in life, no matter how humble it may be. No one was greedy in last place, and nobody was numb either like those in the middle who were always pushing so desperately, trying to get themselves a little further ahead of the rest. People in that lowliest position saw things the way they really are, and those folks were just grateful to have some part in the whole grand affair. They understood that so much of life is just the living- the surviving moment-to-moment, day-to-day.
It didn’t occur to me until much later that my dad was just trying to console himself, that his whole philosophy was more mad-grab than hard fact. It didn’t occur to me until much later that, passionate and aware or not, my dad was a loser like any other. Forever searching for silver linings, forever making excuses, forever fixed in last place.