Talent is its own expectation. You either live up to it or it waves a hankie, receding forever. Whether we burn through that imagined fuel tank has become the de facto litmus test as to whether we've lived up to our potential—taken our talents to South Beach and beyond—or frittered away the gift. So it stands to reason that those of us who have put our talents to work should be the happy ones, while our couch-surfing counterparts should be wallowing in listlessness. But all too often, we see the opposite.
Whether it's Hamlet dwelling on whether it’s "nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," or DJ Khaled's 7th album eponymous to this article, the top 1% have a chronic case of suff'rin' from realness. Call them delusional. Call them paralyzed perfectionists. Hell, even call them crazy. Just try to understand the beast first.
"Suffering" is a big word in the more thoughtful religions and circles of belief. It doesn't just mean agony of the body. It means that deep, subtle sense of dissatisfaction that is a part of every mind moment and that results directly from the mental treadmill. It's an itchy grain of sand in your happy clam, materializing because you wondered if it was there in the first place.
So, if we know the cause—garden-variety overthinking—to be self-inflicted and preventable, do we still have that human obligation to empathetically hug it out with these people in pain from afar, even if they lead lives we've only dreamt of? The answer isn't a firm yes or no (at best it's case-by-case), but the fact that we find ourselves asking that question goads their feelings of being misunderstood.
Ironically, it's easier to parse out why we should feel bad for these pouty King Midases if we examine their counterparts: the person who spent their energetic years living paycheck-to-paycheck at a job unrelated to their aptitude, who myopically retreated to bars and strip clubs, who saw something special in themselves and let it rot in the corner. That person is easy to feel bad for because, in a sense, they never got their shot whether by their own doing or otherwise. They're easy to relate to because we've all started at Genesis 1:1.
But those who suffer from success, well, they had exponentially more drive than the lethargic chumps. They traveled from the mantle to the stratosphere under their own power and still found reason to complain. And therein lies the reason they're kept up at night. They rung out every drop of their talent, saw the fruits of that labor, but are left knowing the limit of their potential—left knowing that, no matter what they do, they can never get better.
Now imagine how disheartening it would be to have your life's work—in this case, continual self-improvement—halted abruptly because of your own limitations. When you reach the end of the game at such a screeching halt, it's as unsatisfying as using a cheat code. These people are surrounded by what they've built, but live alone because their talent—that somewhat dubious partner in crime—has blindfolded itself with its hankie, lit one last cigarette and tossed them a revolver.
Rick Morrison is a writer living in North Carolina. Follow him on Twitter here.