You know, if you want to get to the top of Mt. Everest, you’re going to need a Sherpa. I just learned this; I didn’t know Sherpas still existed - I thought they were just poor Nepalese bastards that Englishmen hired to carry firewood with them up the mountain back in olden times. I thought as the technology and knowledge level of the mountain improved over the last half-century, Sherpas had faded into lore, or, more specifically a sex game (have your partner get totally naked except for a large backpack and a warm hat and just keep screaming, ‘“We need to summit by nightfall” as she screams, “It’s too dangerous, we have to turn back!”). But they haven’t. Ninety-five percent of all climbs are done with Sherpas - and they don’t just climb, they carry nearly everything too, so some computer programmer from Portland (ugh) can brag to his buddies over a soy chai latte about feeling “alive.” And according to the National Geographic article I was reading (I was looking for topless Aboriginals), they are designed to do this. You see, while you and me and the rest of our p*ssy-kind evolved at sea level, these people evolved at 12,000 feet, and it’s been proven they have at least three genes that are different from everyone else on the planet - making them able to adapt quickly to oxygen-poor environments. They are, quite literally, born to climb mountains. What were you born to do?
I don’t expect you to answer that question. I certainly can’t. From what I can tell, the only exceptional genetic mutation I’ve developed is the ability to masturbate a few times a day. But there’s a larger question of mortality in there, right? I mean, someday you are going to die, and a quarter of the way through your life there’s no real direction. Ask any old-timer, and that seems to be the problem with our generation - we want everything, yet we work towards nothing. To hijack a metaphor, we spend so much time talking about chopping down the forest, that we forget to start on our first tree. And I get why our fathers and grandfathers probably fight the urge to punch us directly in our Wayfarer-adorned faces. Allow me to explain: a kid in Florida just had his diploma withheld for “Tebowing” on stage during graduation (he should have had it withheld for cultural irrelevance, but I digress). Seems a little harsh for a little prank-y gesture, right? But you know what? If he didn’t get punished, every friggin’ kid in that school is going to think of something THEY should do to get attention. And if in the future, I have to sit and watch some 18-year-old A-holes all do a “funny” little dance at my niece’s graduation, I’m showing up with an uzi. That, in a nutshell, is our generation’s plight: since birth, we’re told we’re special and, in turn, cursed with the idea that we have to be more than ourselves. We must be unique and important so badly (we can’t just grab the stupid diploma and sit down) that we lose perspective on how this might affect everyone else. Cue the sh*tty wall-posts...and food blogs...and guys quitting their jobs in finance to become stand-ups and write for BroBible (cough, cough). And while we’re dreaming of all the ways the world will one day adore us, there’s a report we’re turning in late that our boss just wants done so he can finally get home to his kids. Is that so wrong? Now, get off my lawn.
And yet...and yet...there IS something undeniably awesome about all this instagramming and random stupid hobbies and friends who are stand-ups (cough, cough). We can’t help but be awed by the world in front of us; like the babies we once were, everyone straining to keep us entertained and engaged, toys everywhere, affection constant. And the Internet brings us a new daily affirmation of the world’s majesty: a monkey riding a dog or a DJ playing a woman’s tits like a bongo. And we travel like never before, and share like never before, and bang like never before (thank you, J-Date!). But all that optimism for the next thing also brings a sadness, because while your friends are posting about Coachella, or taking a new exciting job, you’re still sitting at the old thing, in a gray cubicle, wondering if your boss was serious about that report he needed. There’s so much beautiful world around us to pluck from - that we’ve been conditioned to absorb - that all the choices can make us insane. And so the life of a Sherpa starts to look appealing - born to be what they are, no deviation, no hand-wringing, no friend with a photo-blogging job posting on Facebook from Nepal, no frustration. “What are you going to do today?” “Well, I’m going to climb this f*cking mountain.”
In an effort to have a unique existence we have all become little mediocre at both our cool hobbies and our non-cool jobs. I go to a Starbucks once a week where I watch the best barista that I’ve ever seen. Everyone who goes in there knows he’s the best. He gets people extra shots of espresso, he speaks to the customers, he makes eye contact - he’s the “Call Me Maybe” of baristas. I once told him that he was the best and his response was, “I know that baby” (he may be gay). And I was even more impressed. He owns that position, he’s good at it, and he seems really happy. There are two kinds of insane in this world: an insanity of grandeur, and and insanity of insignificance. As a comedian, I know too many people that are convinced the world owes a debt to their genius. And before that, I was a Financial Advisor and some of those poor, miserable bastards just punched the clock until they could get home and watch TV. How about we all try and be the “Call Me Maybe” of our professions? Put in a little effort in, take a little care, and maybe your un-unique job will become a unique career and you can afford that expedition on Everest. Just don’t put the photos on Facebook - I may start to wonder what I’m doing with my life.
Jared Freid is a New York City-based comedian. You can follow him on Twitter @jtrain56 for videos, column updates, and pics of Dudes Being Dudes at this weekend’s NCAA Lacrosse Final Four.