Can we take a moment here, please?
So much is made these days about hewing your trail, calving off from the herd, becoming the supra you.
I’d like to pause a moment here to suggest something radical in a site abounding with the themes of creativity and living life for an ideal.
It is this: It is OK to be a follower. It’s admirable to want to be part of the mainstream of an era, doing your part without seeking to take the lead. The world needs passionate followers as much as it needs path forgers.
Were it not for the masses of humanity doing their jobs well and as expected of them society would break down. I’m Gandhian in that way. Every job is a worthy contribution.
Maybe we can come up with a new term for followers.
Here’s my suggestion: Contributors.
Because every job from garbage man to hostess to corporate denizen contributes in sometimes imperceptible yet necessary ways to the intricate whole.
Also, passionate followers — contributors! — often delve into passionate pursuits off-hours.
The poet T.S. Eliot worked a day job at a bank. Albert Einstein toiled the day away as a patent clerk. I work at an art gallery. (Yes, yes I did just insert myself into that pantheon.) (Oh the fun you get to have on your own site.)
You’ve probably noticed this too, it’s not the leaders that glue a community together. It wasn’t corporate titan Jack Welch personally helping make an after-school event happen. He worked obsessively and expected those under him to do the same. Or he fired them. So you didn’t see those guys at Tae Kwon Do practice. Or a bake sale.
Think back to the people who were there when you were growing up, whenever you needed someone, emotionally, personally, for guidance or support, in the family or out of it. I can guarantee you it wasn’t someone of great renown. It was someone who had the time. And more importantly, made the time to be there for you.
I can think of teachers, coaches, church volunteers, people in the neighborhood, co-workers, all of whom were there for me. This means they were not elsewhere, getting their name and brand out there.
Here’s to you, passionate followers — thank you.
Don’t buy into the hype that you must risk it all, commit it all. If you don’t feel it — feel the compulsion to break out on your own in the arts or business or lifestyle — rejoice.
You’ve been freed from lifelong uncertainty. You’ve sidestepped a life of intensity and ceaseless question asking. Rejoice.
And thank you, for all that you do, all that you contribute, to help make this world flow a little better each day.
Excerpted and modified oh so slightly from the forthcoming book Bohemia in Suburbia and Beyond.