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The Curse of the Greats
Ever wondered whether you were blessed or cursed? Good or bad? Whether you were dragged by your society’s addiction to conformity or it is your choice to be where you are right now, at this very moment?
How much of who we are is the result of our choices? Or is it the deeply rooted cultural legacies that define us?
Is it not what we do that defines us? Or is it who we are inside that counts? As the fictional character Bruce Wayne puts it. Is not fiction part of our reality? Or at least it resembles our truths and puts them on the surface to scar them and help us shed our conscious light on them. There are complexities within ourselves nested in our neurons that are beyond our comprehension.
If I am to sum up all the chaotic questions that have been laid before me during the last decade of my life, it would be the same one: “Are we who we are by choice, or did life throw its Curse upon us and help shape our reality?”
It is a question indeed worth asking if you are to pursue a path of Meaning rather than conformity.
How much of you is really what you sculptured? And how much was just given to you, living your daily life as if you deserved it and were entitled to it, as if taking life for granted wouldn’t come back and slap you in the face, and maybe even break your jaw? Something worth thinking about.
After my shallow pursuit for an answer, I have concluded, and only after rigorous scrutiny, that people can be categorized and put in judgmental boxes. There is the 90%, there is the 9%, and then there is the 1%. There is almost no question about that, and history has already done its fair job and proved it through the known Masters and Outliers. We cannot put the likes of Mozart, Einstein, Shackleton, Da Vinci, or Elon Musk in the same category as the rest. It is not fair to them, or to life, to compare. They are the 1%, while the rest try to catch up as they are driven by their intrinsic envy and all kinds of jealousy.
The 90% is literally 9 out of every 10 people you see around you: your family, friends, peers, gym buddies, school mates, and colleagues. But who is who, and where do you stand in this equation? As you read this, your ego will blind you to the the truth about your worth. And you will come up with all kinds of crappy excuses, such as “My parents didn’t let me,” “Society didn’t support me,” “I didn’t have any money,” “I did my best,” “I am different, this is just my way.” And the list goes on!
If you belong to these excuses, this only proves your deep belonging to conformity; to a mini-life with challenges as small as bugs and flies. You simply belong to the 90%.
The 1% will not react this way. They will question their ability and judge their decisions, and some might take it far and be extremely harsh on themselves for not giving their actual best. The 9% are the ones with the potential to be in the 1%, and they will have to understand that it takes tons of additional sacrifices to head toward the 1%, which is their ultimate goal and the only cure to their earned egocentric personality.
The 1%, on the other hand, know their worth and their place, and they have put their self-inflicting nature to rest and under control. They know what it took to be where they are, and they are not afraid of any consequences. For no matter what, they have accepted reality—the philosophy of birth, life, and death. And in doing so, they have found the audacity to demolish all the fictional walls of certainty.
To bring the idea of the Greats, of the 1%, closer to you, the following is a summary of three characteristics they possess. And maybe by looking into the Greats, the 9% will get a chance.
“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
― Ernest Hemingway
“What does it take to be in the 1% and join the Greats?” the 9% will ask, while the 90% is asleep.
This question will keep haunting the 9% in their failed attempts at greatness and soul maturity.
The sad truth is that not all of them will make it. As the Greats rise, the majority falls. The 9% get washed away with all their human nature and vanity. And the question of the mirror is whether you’ve got what it takes or life has taken its toll on you.”
The Undying Will. The will to become, to overcome, to prosper, and to build skyscrapers from the ashes. Nah, surely not everybody has this kind of guts. It’s a rare trait. Whatever hell life brings upon the 1%, somehow they find a way to thrive through it. Without question, they find the strength to hold on a little longer than others.
Is your will solid? Are your standards high enough? You ought to ask yourself the next time you feel proud of a silly achievement in your daily routine, comforting yourself with a taste from the cup of success, not necessarily reaching your highest potential and giving your maximum effort, and yet feeling proud of your shortcomings. And thus, your will has died.
I say, with all certainty, that if you are not in a position of providing an exceptionally outstanding skill to serve those around you, and maybe society, then you do not fit at the table to dine with the 1%. Those people you wish to enjoy a delightful supper with have not earned the right to be where they are without the Undying Will that 99% of people fail to grasp.
Take a step back and take a look at your dying will, try to rescue it if you can, maybe call on the heavens for it if that comforts you. It will not come to you. It has beaten you. Now all the distractions and life’s pleasures, the needs and wants, the meaningless sex, the drugs, and the smoking and the drinking will have no mercy on you.
It is a choice, but one that needs to be made early, and it takes guts, patience, and long painful nights to develop the Undying Will. It is not a gift, nor is it a godsent prophecy, but merely a daily choice of extreme perseverance.
“You’re going to pay a price for every bloody thing you do and everything you don’t do. You don’t get to choose to not pay a price. You get to choose which poison you’re going to take. That’s it.”
― Jordan B. Peterson
The idea of Sacrifice is ancient, as old as the inception of life and the origin of consciousness. Religions did reasonably well in shining light on the idea. Some even based their very belief systems on it. It makes you wonder why and how important it is to our human nature and how compatible it is to our Psyche.
When you give something up, when you let it go, you get another thing in return. That might be a simple fact, but think of it a little deeper. Everything you do is a kind of sacrifice. Spending time working means you are sacrificing spending time with your loved ones. Choose a path in life, or a life partner, and you are sacrificing all the other potential paths and partners that could have been yours. We sacrifice almost our whole lives, and we offer them on a golden plate to our children, without question. And it is always worth it.
Sacrifice is embedded in us. It’s our most fundamental rule in life. The question is how far you are willing to go and how much of your needy, pathetic daily routine you are ready to sacrifice to become something extraordinarily different from who you are now. The 1% knew the answer and acted upon it. The 9% struggles to conceptualize the idea and lacks the vision to endure the pain of sacrifices. The 90% is doomed and stupid and lives by one rule: wants and needs for now and hell for the future. I doubt if they are even aware of tomorrow as we speak.
“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” ― Ernest Hemingway
I understand that Sacrifice and letting go are extremely difficult. Whoever says otherwise does not know a thing about life and living. We are almost defined by our ability to let go of someone or something we love and hold dear to our hearts.
It’s hurtful and painful. It’s the kind of pain that reminds you of your humanity and proves your existence to yourself. Without the pain of letting go, we are doomed and stripped of our humanity. It is a kind of curse that falls upon you, an angel coming down to you to question your belief. Evil, on the other hand, devours you and leaves you naked if you dare to refuse the pain, the feeling, and the reality of all the rationality of letting go.
When you come face to face with yourself and your ability to let go, which is a situation that you will definitely find yourself in at some point in your life no matter how much you try to avoid it, it will feel like you are standing in the middle of a vast hot desert, thirsty to your guts, right between Good and Evil. A judgment will then be laid upon you, and you will have to make a decision despite your inability to think, move, or see. You will still have to stand up and speak. Speak the word or remain silent and let your guts eat you. Speak the truth or remain a coward. The decision will be yours, and you will have nothing but yourself to blame for your weakness and no one but yourself to praise for your strength. Will you take it? Can you make it? This is just a glimpse of the Curse of the Greats since you are daring to be one. And it is the ultimate Sacrifice of the Greats.
I’ve been asked multiple times whether I would advise a life of complete independence and entrepreneurship, full of risk-taking and striving for self-actualization. And I said, “No.” I would not advise such a path to anyone. I might have been wrong, or maybe I was right. It’s one more question to add to those unanswered questions of the mirror. Perhaps it is fear that stops me from approving the pursuit of such a path, or maybe it is the strength to outspeak that most of you will not make it through. Who am I to judge?
Do we have the Undying Will or the ability to Sacrifice and let go? Did we measure our breaking point and tame our Psyches? Even if we do, then comes the Curse. Are we willing to fight with what’s left of us?
I have read and dug deep into the Curse faced by some of the Greats. And I intend to sum up my ideology after almost a decade of research and intense scrutiny of the lives of those before us. They have not only defied the odds but set new rules for living, prosperity, and the ultimate purpose of success. We ought to listen and learn from those before us and bow to their rules.
The Curse manifests itself before you as you reach the gates of individual sovereignty, the same way Evil stops when faced with the omniscient truth and purity.
And I say, “What if” because I am uncertain of what I preach, as of all Philosophy. It is the “Chase,” as Nietzsche calls it. And if we are to chase, then we should chase graciously.
What if, after you have spent your whole life doing good to yourself, learned and taken the toll of all the years on your shoulder, listened to your parents very well, and helped spread joy to your siblings; after you have dedicated your life to helping and guiding others, built a connection with your God, and become an unstoppable force, a strong, honest human, and looked into the eyes of those who needed you and offered a hand without expecting anything in return; after you have acquired the Undying Will, tamed your breaking point and mastered it, and learned through painful memories of Sacrifice and letting go; what if, at the end of this path, you must then face reality to balance the equation of Good with the necessity of Evil, to shed light, to bring value, to validate Good?
What if you then have to face the Devil himself, sitting and waiting for you to pay your dues and balance the good you did with a Curse sown into you, waiting to bring you down with depression, hatred, sadness, pain, and tragic memories of loss, letting go, and all kinds of misery?
Perhaps life needs an equalizer, and Evil has occupied the job. Maybe coming face to face with your worst self at your most desolate state in moments of despair is the test, and it is the Curse that will bring balance to your Psyche, and to the world.
Another question for the mirror. Until the mirror speaks, that is the Curse of the Greats.
Can you take it then?
Written by Yousef AlQanai (Joe Qanai)
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