When legendary comedian and actor Groucho Marx sent his famous telegram to the Friarís Club of Beverly Hills to announce his resignation from that society, he supposedly said, ďI donít care to belong to any club that would have me as a member.Ē
A likely story Ė and probably true.
Throughout the years, variations on that self-deprecating joke have probably been used again and again by hundreds or thousands of people who have actually been expressing their gratitude to their companies for giving them the jobs from which they were retiring or spouses with whom they were celebrating milestone anniversaries.
The very thought makes me throw up in my mouth.
It isnít only because I hate clichť sentiments that present an image of eternal camaraderie that is false in an insipidly Norman Rockwellian fashion, but also because I have often used my own variation on that line over the past decade or so: I donít care to belong to any club that would have anybody but me as a member.
That isnít to suggest that I think I am superior to every other person on Earth. It isnít just simple arrogance on my part. The truth is that I just donít understand why anybody would want to be part of any club larger than one person unless being part of that club also involves being paid millions of dollars to play a sport or fighting for a noble cause like the end of the Nazi regime (not to say the two are similar in any way).
That is excusable Ė even admirable in a few cases.
But, generally, the idea that there is strength in numbers is only true when the number is one. The problem is that so many of us are only fractions. And depending on the people Ė depending on the size of fractions Ė it can take two, ten, even a hundred of us to turn those fractions into anything resembling a whole.
That must be why there is always such an emphasis on being part of a scene.
As an example, the average musician or artist seems eternally desperate to create or join a scene, probably so insecure about his or her ability that he or she requires the constant support and approval of the other equally insecure members of their group, the other fractions of their whole.
Sadly, scenes always die. And clubs fall out of fashion.
And what happens to those poor fractions who used those scenes and clubs to define their identities? Where do they go? What is the next phase of their incomplete lives?
What will you do when your scene is dead, oh, sad and pathetic hipsters?
You probably should have spent your time working to make yourself whole, not gladly and proudly sliding yourself into an easy slot like a tiny piece in a human jigsaw puzzle.
You probably should have thought about the virtues of being selfish, not in the greedy sense, but in the sense that your self is most important to you.
The happiest of us are not their jobs, not their friends, not their families. And they are certainly not the opinions of other people concerning what they say or do.
They are individual to the point of solitary, even when surrounded by colleagues, friends and family. And they can be just as happy in their presence, regardless the words and actions of those people, as they can be in their permanent absence.
I think I am that happy, but it doesnít mean I canít be angry, too.
Happiness and anger arenít as incompatible as you might think.