[blue rare]—Getting By With the One Percent

A Meditation on Human Potential

“The saddest places in the world are graveyards,” my grandfather would often proclaim, “not because of all the lost lives, but because of all the wasted potential and unused talent crumbled into dust.” He was a very creepy and morbid old man, and often made statements like this.

Still, he had a point, hadn’t he?  How many of us lie awake in the wee small hours of the morning, listening to old Frank Sinatra and Smiths albums, playing endless hours of Donkey Kong to soothe our frayed nerves, bitterly worrying that we have frittered away our lives, having failed to achieve the greatness and recognition that should have been our due?  I know I can’t be the only one.

Ironic, isn’t it, that, with the exception of some manufacturer’s assembly instructions, the human brain is capable of tackling and solving practically any conundrum it encounters, and yet it cannot find a way to fully access its own vast storehouse of power. According to my calculations, we only use a tiny percentage of our brain power, like probably only one percent.  Or possibly less.  Maybe a little bit more; my calculations are only rough, so who knows?  Anyway, can you imagine what we could achieve if we put our backs into it and used the whole shebang?  Can you?!

Well, give it a rest, because you can’t.  Trust me, I’ve been between jobs, and have spent several hours looking into it.  I’ve also looked into other ways of drawing upon my hidden reserves of psychic energy, including dabbling with a wide array of chemical enhancements and even reading several pamphlets about mindfulness and meditation.  For a while, the possibility of selling my soul to the Devil for knowledge and power seemed promising, but ultimately nothing came of it, and I got a refund on the grimoire and pentagram chalk.  I have now come to the conclusion that we all just have to live with the meagre cerebral wattage we already have.  I suppose that is the bad news.

The good news is, it just doesn’t matter.  As with most things in life, it’s simply a matter of reducing our unrealistic expectations.  After all, most of the things I like to do, from mixing a martini to dialing up a meat lover’s pizza, can easily be done with far less than one percent of my brain’s capacity at play.  Nor do I care what the other slack ass regions of my brain are accomplishing.  Maybe they’ll come in handy some day, or maybe they won’t.  For all I know, my laptop computer may be capable of doing more than streaming The Sopranos, but I’m not losing any sleep over it.

I am not saying that we, as individuals, should not strive to lead inspired, successful lives.  Of course we should.  It’s just that the definitions of success and fulfillment can have very different meanings for different people.  For some, it may entail choreographing a ballet or building hospitals in the Himalayas or whatnot.  For others of us, it may look more like eating family-size packages of Cheetos and collecting vintage 70s porn films.  Can we quantifiably say that one set of aspirations is more valid than another? Sometimes you should just be thankful for what you have.

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