If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
Hillel the Elder, ca. 30 BCE
Me, The 100 Billionth Person. Can that be true? And what if it is?
First, it is plausible that I am the 100 billionth person to have ever lived (please see link). But what matters more in this era of self-promotion and entrepreneurism is that no one else has made the claim. So, with a fond nod to the Al Franken Decade, I hereby confer the title “The 100 Billionth Person” upon myself, Craig Collins.
The 100 Billionth Person. How impressive! One out of… how many zeroes is that? Hmm. What makes The 100 Billionth Person more special than the billions before and after?
We need to talk about special and unique. As I was growing up, I was constantly reminded by my mother, my teachers, by the fact that I was a year younger than my classmates, that I was special. My parents rarely missed a chance to brag to their friends about me, as if I were from another planet bearing superior and otherworldly intelligence. While I did start reading earlier than my classmates and did get better grades, it meant that I was set apart from the other kids. Special and unique? Different and often disparaged.
For a good while, I drank the Kool-Aid. Sure, as I grew up, I met countless people with abilities and ambitions far exceeding my own, but it did not shake my aura of specialness. College mid-term exam? I’ll do fine, I don’t need to study that hard. Income tax returns? I can do them myself on Excel. Corporate leadership workshop? No way, I hate that kind of social engineering crap. Improve my photography by studying the masters? Why would I contaminate the way I see the world?
There is a little shrine to myself imbedded in me, where self-seeking questions are posed. How can I get the recognition I deserve? On what should I spend my precious time and energy? What a waste it would be to fritter my creativity away — after all, I am unique!
Eventually I found I couldn’t (and no longer cared to) live up to the inflated image. How unspecial I am finally hit home after I wrapped up my career, moved to North Carolina and tried to start over. I surprised myself how unprepared I was for this phase of my life, where I couldn’t get by on looks alone.
The 100 Billionth Person is an irony, as you see. The 100 Billionth Person sounds special, distinctive, unique — but being one of so many, how can I be anything but ordinary and insignificant? Yes, each of us is unique in that no one shares our DNA, our experiences, our thoughts, our actions. But if we are all unique, how special can that be?
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Now, to this blog. A person who decides to write a blog (and wants others to read it) must think he has something important to say. (I really hate the word important.) While I try to avoid self-importance, this blog necessarily represents the way I view the world — what other point of view could I possibly have? For your entertainment, I strive to be unique but not special, hopefully interesting and fun. I am just one person in an endless queue, aware of my place in the line but clueless as to what the line is for. Thanks for joining me.
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Those expecting to find the usual biographical info here may be disappointed. Who I am is reflected in my writing, so please read. Who I am not is some other Craig H. Collins you may have been looking for. If you arrived here by chance, you need not be sorry.