Fishbowl or Shroud?

We're very intrerested in you!You may hate your job, husband, car, wardrobe, and neighbors. You may bridle at the indignities of waiting in lines, dealing with low-wage clerks, negotiating traffic, and cleaning up after the dog. You may wish your life wasn’t your life.

But you don’t want to be famous. Not really famous.

The money’s good, and having strangers do nice things for you because you’re you is nice. But living life in a fishbowl is a peculiar kind of torture, an unnatural punishment that only the worst sort of criminals ought to endure.

Conversely, to pass through life completely unrecognized is another kind of penury, particularly for those who fancy themselves in possession of a unique voice. If no one Life in a fishbowlever listens — or, more precisely, if no one but friends and family listen — the artist/inventor/poet/innovator feels like she’s shouting into a vacuum. The shroud of anonymity darkens brilliance, and eventually extinguishes it (until, decades later, someone figures out how to make millions of dollars out of forgotten efforts).

So what’s it going to be? Ignored or examined? Unappreciated or dissected? Neither fate seems appealing. But when you’re suffering from one side of the syndrome you long for the other. My super-famous friends wish they could blend into the wallpaper. My struggling artist friends wish someone would pay attention. And neither group is happy with the state of things.

The magic middle, it seems, beckons. Since mediocrity is the natural destination for almost everything, that appears to be the best and safest place.

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