Here is a thing that messes with my head.
Imagine all of the people on this planet, the sheer number of people. Billions and billions of people. Think of the largest crowd that you have ever been in and how that is a minuscule fraction of the world’s population. That idea may melt a brain in its own right, but let’s go a layer deeper. Think of all those individuals that we identify as the best in the world at one thing or another. This is what messes with my head: how can we possibly know?
So you say, that is why we compete. We have competitions, tournaments, games, finals, examinations, trials, contests, quizzes, elections, displays, exhibitions, and all manner of forms and formats for people to measure themselves against one another. But, I say, all of these events are excluding a huge portion of the global population. And try as we might, through organisations great and small across the world, we may only unearth the best available rather than humankind’s very best. What if someone’s great talent is never recognised by force of circumstances? What if the best individual at a given thing is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Think about it this way: The best pianist in the world might not even own or have access to a piano. The best footballer in the world might be part of a family that prefer staying in and playing board games. It stands to reason that, for all manner of reasons, there are people in this world who do not get the opportunity to be their best. Natural geniuses and child prodigies cause us to assume that natural abilities are inevitably nurtured. But what if they are not? What if we remain unaware of the potential skills and talents waiting to be unlocked within us?
It just messes with my head to think that someone out there, among the billions and billions, has this dormant ability going untapped. Or, for example, myself. Think of all the Olympic gold I would have obtained if I had ever trained (or had the inclination to train) to the limit of my athletic ability. If only some of the Egg and Spoon races of my formative years had gone my way, but alas; I was disenchanted by those cheats who glued the egg to the spoon. In a similar way, think of all the awards and international acclaim I would have earned if I had doubled-down on the tin whistle in school. There is little doubt that I would have unlocked my hidden (deeply, deeply, hidden so very deeply as to appear non-existent) musical mastery. Think now of my quiet anguish and suffering as I see others unjustly take the plaudits that would surely be mine, if only circumstances made it so that I would exert myself in any sort of meaningful way.
Instead, I watch these people delude themselves into thinking that they are the “best in the world.” As if that could ever be anything but assumed. As if it should not matter that I have not had the opportunity to measure my best against their best. How can anyone possibly know?
Let me tell you, that really messes with my head.