Oftentimes, we say that life has dealt us bad cards, we got a raw deal or simply we’ve been given much, way too much, than is humanly possible to bear. Some people live predictable and semi-charmed lives, unchallenged so, unscathed by the thorns of living, struggling and scratching one’s way up the surface. We see them driving their neat cars in their tidy and fashionable clothes, on their way to their respectable offices and back again to their sturdy, elegant and paid homes with a lovely garden, to their healthy, decently-shod and smart children. Ah, perhaps the picture is too postcard-perfect to imagine without feeling a tinge of jealousy in our little, envious and sensitive hearts?
And we get mad why others have it easy and why we have it hard. Or, why they seem to have it easy and almost effortless, while we fumble our way through each day with little confidence and with nary an assurance that it won’t end up a disaster. Our slips are showing, our cool – hah, we must have misplaced it – nowhere to be found and, our day-to-day efforts prove little to show. We ask ourselves if it’s really just a matter of guts, of projecting you’ve got it all together even if you don’t and, of being a bit more adjusted to a public or corporatized setting. In short, a tad more adult-like, flexible and plastic, in a sense. Somebody said that it’s just a matter of being able to take in, juggle and live through layers and layers of lie on an hourly basis. Of being able to take in more shits than usual. After all, life is that – crappy.
And some even go further to say that living as a winner is a matter of method. Time management, they say, is one sure way to go about it. Multiple tasking is another (networking while doing lunch is always a famous suggestion). Do-it-yourself is another tip that ranks high up the ladder. Going organic when it comes to food and back-to the-basics also strike many people’s fancy. Live green, live lean and on the ergonomic side – chic posters in posh shops proclaim. And hey, it’s no longer hip to go around and about doing your business (whatever it is) without exercise so, go – build those muscles, tone that skin and invest in a spa membership.
Remember to always do your hair or have it done – your mane talks volume about you and your capabilities – and to wear make-up that looks like you got no make-up. Sure, that takes four(4) hours to achieve, but care should be taken one does not appear like a newbie mall saleslady or that flirtatious secretary you have in the office. Or, in the neighboring office, for that matter. Live it – walk the walk and talk the talk, project yourself like you know where you’re going. Don’t forget, many would want to step in these shoes we’re wearing or sporting or stumbling with. And, democracy is not the great legacy of the Americans – competitiveness is. It is easy to achieve perfection at your own level – the boss, the magazines and the online news – all shout out, loudly.
Or, is it? Are we really capable of achieving perfection at our own level – on an everyday basis, in this digital age, in the modern and rather unequal setting? Look out for yourself, no one else will. Grab the opportunities. Dance with the times (read, buy the latest gadgets) and claim your fortune before others do. And most of all, appear smooth. It won’t do any good to let the seams show – speak softly while radiating interest and enthusiasm. The days of rugged and loud advocacy is decidedly over. It is now time to fake it. And fake it like there is no tomorrow. Like how? Like it could be mistaken for the real thing. Remember, you are awesome and you will be, if you can make yourself believable, to as many. After all, people are aware, many of the things we see, buy, hear about and listen to, are fraud. The rule seems to be, you can lie as often as you want, as long as some, or, many, would believe you.
And oh, learn the tricky art of ignoring. Ignoring everything that will not help you advance your cause, your cause of being the first in the pack. That and being among your equals – the other focused, competitive souls who have tastes and able to recognize the beacon light of success from afar. At times, this would necessitate a lot of forgetting – where you came from, with whom you formerly hanged around and where you previously spent the best and the worst of times of your life. But hey, History, at least the ones we studied in school, was itself full of erasures, up until on its way to the press.
And perhaps, it won’t do any good to be fastidious about how we get to the finish line. If the Vikings and Columbus and Magellan and Alexander the Great were squeamish about their ways and accommodation, it is highly probable there wouldn’t have been any discoveries – continents would still be uncharted and tribes wouldn’t have gone further than forging federations. Conquest has always been a messy business, yes. But one need not make things a little too public. As with crimes, success tracks must be covered. They stand a better chance of preservation that way. Plus, the public at large could always use some mystery, some secret, some chance to be bedazzled. Mystify it – it does help. When the euphoria of triumph has cooled down, one could always turn to publishing an easy-does-it- manual that’ll make it look like – a child’s play.
So, where were we? Yes, it’s about gearing up and fitting oneself for success and wearing the prerequisite attitude sans the usual envy for the Joneses. That it’s about being open to the load of crappy shit thrown our way and swimming our way through it and emerging the winner. And it involves a lot of trappings and projection and yes, a healthy dose of hypocrisy. But it’s only hypocrisy and forgetfulness to those who are not tuned in to it. It really is about negotiating one’s way through the jungle while calling it a maze, all the while being conscious that there’s an exit, a door, if you will, where a prize awaits you. And you need not be very surprised if at that end, there will be very few of you who made it. It’s a long and hard road and not a few were cast by the wayside. Dreaming is a privilege, although the myth informs that everybody harbors one dream, at one time or another. A curious lie, one that’s worth a place in the records.
It’s raining cats and dogs and you can hear the droplets falling on the roof. The room has started to be cold and the children have gone to their rooms. The spouse goes to the kitchen to get you a cup of hot chocolate. You begged to make it coffee, instead. You are without doubt successful in your field, so your colleagues claim. The glossy copy of your office’s newsletter in your right hand confirms this fact. There’s a version of it uploaded on the internet by a guy from your department. So, why do you feel a quiet pain in your chest? You have made it, you look the part – unquestionably so. You were given a deck of cards and you dealt it like a maverick. You breezed through the process, a phenomenal achievement. Are you perhaps afraid that you might have gotten things too easily? What is it? What is that insignificant detail that is bothering you? What gives? Ah, but it is too late for regrets. Too late, you decided.
The falling rain began beating harshly against the walls and the rooftop. You stood up to close the glass door leading to the veranda. You wonder if the pain is real or imagined.