The Foreign Rational

The world seen through the eyes of a life-long nomad

It’s been a while since I last published and I just wanted to say, things have been going above average. 

For context, I grew up getting above average grades at above average schools in above average neighborhoods. I’ve moved an above average number of times, lived in an above average number of countries, speaking an above average number of languages. 

I tested at an above average IQ, am graced with above average height, but struggle with above average weight. My glasses require an above average correction, but aside from that and my above average cholesterol, I’m generally in above average health. I can even lift above average weights at the above average gym near my above average apartment. 

I graduated from an above average university with above average marks on my above average degree. I quickly found an above average job with an above average salary at an above average organization. 

I buy at above average cost when I shop for my above average clothes and above average tech gadgets. I talk about everyday topics with my above average friends after doing above average research to make sure my opinions stay above average. 

My above average writing reaches an above average readership, and I’ve been blessed with an above average following. 

You may be reading this and thinking the above average life sounds pretty good. In many ways you’re right. I don’t have to worry about my health, safety, or financial security. I could probably ride this above average train to an above average retirement. 

Where I falter is in reaching beyond the pale. 

There are no tales paying tribute to above average heroes. No stories recounting the vicissitudes of above average lives. We live as we die, in above average anonymity. 

I often find myself wishing I had just one fleck of greatness. Take back these above average gifts and grant me one incredible skill or talent for which I could be at least somewhat known. An amazing writer. An incredible singer. A brilliant intellectual. A world class expert, even if only in my tiny little niche. 

Some say the only way to greatness is through incredible luck or immense suffering. I have neither. Which leaves me with but two choices: Accept my reality and tread along my above average path, or put in the work to cleave out a new trail toward greatness. 

I’ve been trying the latter. Six years ago, I uprooted my above average life in Switzerland and moved to Japan. I started anew; a below average life with below average savings. I made a below average wage to pay for my below average room in a share house with noticeably below average hygiene. Through all the effort and dedication I could muster, I learned the language and found a job here. 

The result? I now speak above average Japanese (for a foreigner) and am making an above average Japanese salary for an above average Japanese company. 

One doesn’t simply escape the maw of averageness. 

There are many of us out there, wasting away in a prison of comfort, daunted by our own forgetfulness. If you’re like me, it may help you to know that I refuse to abandon hope. I will keep learning and improving until I leave a positive mark somewhere, somehow. There has to be a way, through understanding who we are, what we have to offer. 

We’ve got to keep searching for the tiny crack in our above average mold, because if we keep banging against it for long enough, it will eventually give way to a great new horizon. 

2 thoughts on “Life Above the Average

  1. Jake W says:

    Always enjoy reading your articles!
    “Greatness” is so difficult to define, but it often comes at an extreme cost, be that professional, athletic or artistic “greatness”.
    Recognition and mastery are nice, but are they worth calm mornings with coffee and sunrise or gentle afternoons spent on a hobby that is simply that, a hobby.
    The human experience is too vast yet limited for the zealous and the exclusive devotion “greatness” demands.
    Living life constantly on the scale of mediocre-average-above average-great would be the antithesis of my definition of a “great” life.
    As much as I enjoy the work of the “Greats”, I would never want to be them.
    C’est de l’arnaque.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AlexSt says:

      Thank you for your kind comment, and for following my work!
      This is indeed a question I’ve struggled with. I enjoy a rich experiential life in the moment, but then have times when I look back and regret not having accomplished more.
      In the end, the I guess the life best lived is the one you’re content with, and that will inevitably vary from one person to the next. For me, I don’t think I can aspire to ever be among the “Greats,” but I hope some day to have produced a lasting sliver of greatness.
      Mais après, j’avoue que je n’en sais rien 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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