One day, while sitting in my windowless corporate office and trying to imagine it didn’t resemble a jail cell, I picked up my ringing phone to discover the call was not business-related, it was in fact a friend I’ll call Chumley Frampton, although his real name is Syngen Enthwhistle.
“Arrogance: What stupidity wants to be when it grows up.“ Taz Mopula
Now, bear in mind that Chumley is not what you would call a close friend, so I wondered immediately what the purpose of his call might be. I didn’t have to wait long. With fabricated faux urgency for which he is well known, Chumley informed me he was too busy to speak with me right now and had to ring off.
“Multi-tasking: The fine art of doing many things badly at the same time.” Taz Mopula
Yes, that’s right. He called me to let me know he was too busy to speak with me, even though we hadn’t spoken in months.
“Before you criticize a man, walk half a mile in his shoes, turn around, retrace your steps, and return them to him.” Taz Mopula
I don’t usually deconstruct for the reader’s benefit but let’s look at this briefly. 1.) Apparently he was incorrect, he wasn’t too busy to speak with me – the communication was false. 2.) Had it been accurate, why would I have cared? What possible purpose could have been served? 3.) The exclusive point of this contact was to remind me of his importance. (This quality, by the way, existed only in his mind, assuming that one measures importance by gauging influence, power, achievement, and celebrity, which he did. So, not only was it a tiresome nuisance, it was wildly inaccurate.)
“Celebrity: A state of being where one is not known by a large number of people.” Taz Mopula
As concept humor the story is hard to beat, but there is another reason why I’ve retained it all these years. Long ago a psychiatrist said to me, “It really matters to you that what you do is perceived as important.” This was both true and damning. He didn’t say that it was important to me that I achieved important things – (like Chumley I existed on the periphery of accomplishment but had nothing to show for myself) – he said it was important that I was perceived as having done so. Back in the day, Chumley and I managed our images fastidiously, what others thought of us mattered tremendously, indeed, it determined the value of our stock.
“Humility is nothing to brag about.” Taz Mopula
Today I know with absolute certainty that I am not important. On occasion I may be involved in work that is potentially important, and now and then I may serve the purposes of a very important entity, but that is another matter altogether. If I ever find myself making a case for self-importance I immediately take a time out – recalibrate, and begin again.
“Never underestimate your ability to underestimate others, and overestimate your own capabilities.” Taz Mopula
I am perhaps important to the extent that I have learned the importance of unimportance.