The American spirit of ingenuity is as unprecedented as the irrepressible nature of her citizens is incontrovertible. I am reminded of it daily and often seek solace in its truth. It is a well chronicled phenomenon that these soils cultivate resourcefulness and determination that is uniquely coded into our collective double helix. When faced with a challenge, regardless how daunting, we roll up those shirt sleeves and let our true greatness resolve into perfect clarity for all the world to see … and envy.
“America, f’ yeah!”
Ah ... Myopia can be a wonderful place. Just be mindful that your head isn't buried in the sand too long in any one particular sitting. Tends to lead to suffocation.
I wonder if that which has driven us to excel in the past has left us to stagnate in the present. Ours is a society of dreamers and pajama clad entrepreneurs. Nobody wants to be the poor schmuck pulling factory levers or wielding a nail gun when he can fashion himself into a social media icon in the privacy of his own double-wide domicile. If there is one thing America has taken to heart, it’s the rags to riches tale. We constantly strive to rise above our current stations. We go big or we go home.
We are all would-be chiefs in a tribe desperate for braves.
Too busy working smart to work hard, perhaps?
Raw ambition can lead to extraordinary gains, both personally and collectively, but have we been too successful in our endeavors? Have the rampant technological breakthroughs of the past quarter century led us all to abandon productive pursuits to chase the all too tangible allure of overnight riches? Is ours a culture of talentless drones that simply chase down the promise of easy money that the authentic trailblazers and revolutionaries have shown us is possible? Why strive to invent the wheel when you can copy the original design and simply produce the product cheaper and market it better, after all? Better yet, you can just start inviting friends and relatives to meetings about the wheel and detailing how it will lead to unprecedented new levels of wealth amongst its followers.
We are our own Ponzi scheme.
We talk lots and produce precious little. Good gig for the guy at the top of the ladder, but not so hot for the single mother of three who has abandoned the hairdressing career that was barely covering the bills for the road to easy street. That particular road is paved in, well, nothing, actually. It's not even a road. It's a magic carpet ride that terminates abruptly upon smashing into the jagged cliffs of reality.
If you make nothing, you make nothing.
Instant gratification supplanted the dollar as our true currency ages ago. The abundance of raw data, as dispensed through the virtual world, carries with it a dark edge: lack of quality control. The online evangelists will proselytize the hungry masses with morsels of promise regarding the wondrous new world we live in which allows every voice to be heard. Facts and opinions only a click away, including our own, so we all plot a course to recognition and demigodery (yes, I made that up).
We write, we opine, we argue … but most ultimately accomplish little besides diluting the talent pool. The next Hemmingway is out there somewhere, but he is adrift in a sea of inane commentary that has replaced actual art. Actual productivity. Actual life. There are too many merchants chasing the old goat’s fish, and they have better tackle. Lacking ability, they won’t snare the beast, but they’ll spook the prized marlin off the prime fishing grounds so that it is lost to all.
Or perhaps the old man drags the ravaged carcass ashore after an epic battle with not only nature, but his fellow man, only to find that there are no deckhands available to clean and prep the catch for the bone weary old salt. There are no little boys to carry his gear to his hut at a rate of 5 pesos per bucket. The former deckhands are all circling the bay as captains now, following the new SONAR equipment that they don’t know how to operate. The village children are all inside, blogging about sea currents and fishing conditions. Trying to figure out how to monetize their sites.
The fish market itself is long gone as well. The customers buy their seafood online now, and they won’t be purchasing from him today anyway. Some anonymous poster authored a comment that cited an erroneous report about dangerously high levels of mercury in marlin caught in the Gulf of Mexico. It was written on a well-known message board for a consumer advocacy site and subsequently picked up by the major news outlets. In an unfortunate rush not to be scooped, they ran the dubious story with the requisite disclaimers about the unverified authenticity.
Maybe I should take that BassMaster sponsorship after all, the old man wonders. With the appearance fees alone, I’ll never have to fish again.