Back when I was a young naif, burning with ambition, I imagined that the world was my oyster. Because that’s what all the adults told me, and I was stupid enough to believe them. I wanted to pry open that oyster, and find a fast road to fame.
But for some reason, none of my crowbars worked. They just bent when I stomped on them. And that damned oyster kept its mouth tightly sealed. It clammed up, so to speak.
I’ve never been a big fan of seafood anyway, so viewing the world as my oyster was probably not the wisest thing to do. It left a bad taste in my mouth, and was a disgusting concept to swallow. But I was a young idiot. Naive to the ways of the world. I was grabbling about in the dark, heeding the advice of other idiots, like the proverbial blind man following the blind.
Nowadays I like to assume that all my decades of sparring with this world has wised me up. And if I could go back in time and give that stupid young man I was, some advice on how to quickly achieve fame, here’s what I’d tell him:
“So you want to be famous, eh? Well young man, I’ve learned that there is no faster road to fame than ordinary work. Just do what needs to be done. Do it carefully. Be effective at what you do. This is rare enough to catch the attention of others, even when it seems ordinary to yourself.
“The movers of the Earth will first take notice. They’ll recognize a bird of their own feather. And when they’re convinced you belong to their flock, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief. It’s hard work to move the Earth. It’s nice when a reinforcement arrives.
“The free-riders will notice that you’re keeping company with these movers and shakers. Blessed with charm and imperious demands, they’ll soon throw their qualified moral support behind you. They’ll award you with a poisoned chalice brimming with praises and honor. They’ll thank you profusely for all you do for them. And they’ll grumble behind your back whenever you take a rest break.
“After the free-riders contribute to your popularity, the paper tigers will be roused from their slumber. They’ll see you as a threat to their power over the free-riders. Their hearts will tremble with fear, but their throats will roar with ferocity. They will lop off your head if you don’t lower it, and skewer your guts if you drop your shield. But if you maintain your wits and courage, you will successfully defeat them, for they are made of paper. They thrive on witlessness and panic.
“The sheer noise the paper tigers make over you will raise your popularity to the level of fame. Perhaps it won’t be worldwide fame, or national fame, or even regional fame. But you will at least become famous within the circles you frequent. And yet, what will you have done to become so famous? Just ordinary work, that’s all. Ordinary work, with no ulterior motive. Work that somebody had to do, or it wouldn’t get done. And work carried out with love in your heart, a passion for perfection, and a resolve to succeed against all threats.
“So carry on. Do what needs to be done. Travel the road that is open to all, but used by few.
“And fame will soon follow.”