Gut Rumbles

November 16, 2004

bell-shaped curve

This post gave me a headache. I believe that the topic is worthy, because I always wanted to be GREAT at something, but I never got beyond Pretty Good. No matter what I tried, or how HARD I tried, somebody else was always better at it than I was.

But I've NEVER thought of myself as "average." Especially not like this:

I am just like you - hopelessly average. Don't kid yourself either, you too are hopelessly average, in fact 99.9% of the world is hopelessly average.

I'm not going to explore the bell-shaped curve that Dawn's math would yield (it defies statistical analysis), but I AM going to quibble with her "hopelessly average" remark. I know very few people that I would describe as "average" in every way. I know some people that I WOULD describe as "below average" in a LOT of ways, but I don't see any of them being "hopeless," except for some of the true lefties out there. Hopeless is a terrible word.

When I die, very few people in this world will remember, 20 years later, who in the hell I was. 100 years from now, NOBODY will remember. I'm not going to be in the history books, I'm not gonna cure cancer, and I ain't gonna win a fucking Nobel Peace Prize. But I don't feel "hopelessly average." If I did, I don't know if I would bother to get out of bed in the morning.

I've made a few marks in this world. They aren't deep marks or high marks, and they won't endure long, but I made 'em just the same. They're MINE! I've influenced dozens of people's lives. I've saved two people from drowning. I've done some things I'm very proud of and I've also fucked up royally on several momentous occasions.

It's been a rocky ride, but it wasn't boring, it wasn't average, and it damn sure wasn't hopeless. It was just life, that's all. It's average ONLY if you allow it to be. I've damn sure got some good stories to tell, and some of them make me laugh while others make me cry. Some stories make me do both at the same time.

It's been a fun run, dings and all. As my wise daddy always said, "If it was easy, any asshole could do it."

Maybe THAT'S the true definition of "hopelessly average."


Rob, I am not one who posts a lot of comments, but when I do, they mean I am awestruck. Great post!!!

Posted by: Jim Thomas on November 16, 2004 09:59 PM

when i die, my kids will remember me. and i believe with all my heart that they will never remember me as being "hopelessly average"

Posted by: mr. helpful on November 16, 2004 10:35 PM

One standard deviation on either side of the mean encompasses 68% of the test population. There's your "average." To encompass 99.9% of the test population you're looking at 4 standard deviations (or 4 times the standard deviation) on each side of the mean.

Here and here are two pretty good links to explain it.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on November 16, 2004 11:16 PM

Once again, it's posts like this that keep me coming back. These type of posts, along with your humorous ones, are what sets you apart as a writer, which is different than a blogger. Well done.

Posted by: Jimboy on November 17, 2004 07:46 AM

Good post for an average guy. Who helped you with it? j/k
Talk about HS graduation, got my Diploma along with a class status card showing my rank among my classmates. I WAS 1st in the 3rd quarter, that got scratched out. They moved me to last of the 2nd quarter. I asked and they said that was done every year. and I thought it was because I was special. Just average.

Posted by: Marcus on November 17, 2004 08:49 AM

Interesting post, A-man, since I was just writing about this today. We come on stage, do our little bit in the limelight, get the hook, and the next act comes on stage. We might get remembered for a little while, and we live in the memories of those who knew and loved us, but when they are gone, what then?

(and this is without considering afterwards - heaven, hell, reincarnation, whatever)

Perhaps that's why people are so desperate to be in movies and on TV - you might grow old and die, but so long as a bit of film exists and a pair of eyes sees it, you're immortal.

Posted by: Ripper on November 17, 2004 11:09 AM

Dawn has never been average, think she was doing a pity party because her boy lost the election.

Posted by: James Old Guy on November 17, 2004 11:37 AM

"Hopelessly average" tends to be one of two things when used in this context. The Michael Moore-esque "I am better than you will ever be" mindset, or the "I am too damn lazy to get off my ass and do something with my life" mindset.

"Average" is relative to a given person's perception of it, and as such attempting to apply it to someone else is usually an attempt at one of the above.

Posted by: Mr. Lion on November 17, 2004 01:42 PM

Gee, the "hopelessly average" stuff again... For awhile I used the following .sig file on my emails:

A college student challenged a senior citizen, saying it was impossible for their generation to understand his. "You grew up in a different world," the student said. "Today we have television, jet planes, space travel, nuclear energy, computers..." Taking advantage of a pause in the student's litany, the geezer said, "You're right. We didn't have those things when we were young. So we invented them."

Sing LOUD the praises of the "hopelessly average"; without them to USE the fruits of the few geniuses amongst us, we would still be squatting in caves, wondering where that light in the sky comes from every so often.

Posted by: Terry Egan on November 17, 2004 05:07 PM

There's a few folks out there that know I'm not "hopelessly average".
But, it's sometimes best to lie low.

Posted by: Dan Pursel on November 17, 2004 09:02 PM

It could be argued, and I will, that no one is average. On the bell curve of any attribute only the center line representing 50% is average. Since a line has no width people can only be above or below average.

Posted by: Ivan Ivanovich on November 18, 2004 06:07 PM
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