I have been operating under a delusion, a delusion driven mainly by ego.
By the third grade I thought it was clear that our class was exceptional, at least in the narrative of our school. By third grade we were beating the fifth and sixth graders in sports, in aptitude, on tests. By sixth grade we had athletes ready for JV, by seventh grade varsity. When we graduated we were the first class to have raised a surplus of funds that we donated to the incoming freshmen, and to the charities of our choice.
College felt different for us, like we entered in a meaningful year, took the reigns, and made things happen. Even as soon as our sophomore year we decried the blandness of those just one year behind. I am convinced, as I have said in other poetry, that I have loved the finest women of mine (or any) generation, known the finest men, a delusion driven by ego.
Statistics will tell you that my high school was below average, that we graduated too few, sent to college too few. I attended a state school, which means none of us will be President, and none will be diplomats, though I can look on the TV and see people that I know you know. I chose the easier grad school, befriended the exceptional there, and thought them exceptional, married (the first time) someone who turned out to be quite ordinary.
It’s a delusion, this thought that I have rode shotgun with those who would and could and did change the world. As for the continued scaffolding that holds up this view, for that I thank Facebook. Because well many decry its ability to highlight the fakeness of life, as if we are all simply baby pictures and great meals, it keeps me connected with the ones with whom I continue to be exceptionally impressed. And it shows me only the highlights of their, most likely, ordinary lives.
What great thoughts. What great energies. My friends.
I would sacrifice it all for a weekend in some hotel, in some obscure city where we all could meet, to be cut off from electronics and families, to stay up all night talking about intractable problems, about philosophical conundrums, about literature, or formulas, or the greatest vista for watching the sun set.
I see us all as French Impressionists, as the first meeting of Zulu Nation, as Einstein and Feynmen and Heisenberg working out our problems. I never thought of us as normal. I never expected less than great art, outlandish jokes, exceptional storytelling, inventions. I refused to believe any of us could fall into the worst of insults, that we were normal, or ordinary.
On that premise I have built my castle, on an illusion of ego, on a foundation of false concrete.