Tuesday, April 29, 2008


They say it’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re surrounded by turkeys. But what about the opposite scenario? It’s difficult not to look like a turkey when you’re surrounded by eagles. Nothing brings out one’s own sense of mediocrity than being confronted with the genius of others. Now of course the mature and grown up thing to do would be to delight in the talent of others and celebrate their success, but let’s be honest – deep down a little part of us thinks, why can’t I do that?! Throughout life we are placated with sentiments such as, everyone has a special talent. Yeah sure! Cold comfort that is when you discover your special talent is the ability to stack books in perfect piles by size or the unique ability sleep for extended periods of time. Yes. Very impressive!

Picture - "Prefection" Traffic Signal Box by Scott (fischer) Moorhead
To see more of fischer's work, go to:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Eye of the Beholder

Art is a curious thing. One person’s mediocrity is another person’s masterpiece. There was a painting hanging in the Queensland Art Gallery that was a canvas painted black. Not subtle shades of black, not different textures of black. Just black. Is that art? Apparently, yes. Is it good art? Well that’s open for debate.

A piece that may appear to one person as “the internal struggle between good and evil”, may look to another as if someone has thrown up all over the place. So who gets to decide what art is all about – is it the artist or is it the art viewer?

Ultimately, art appreciation comes down to personal taste. If a piece (be it literature, music, a painting, or a sunset) speaks to you - reminds you of a place, a time, a thought, a person, a feeling, or asks you to delve more deeply into yourself - then it may appeal to you as valid art.

There are no rules about whether or not something is truly a work of art, although I have devised my own benchmark – if it’s something I could produce, it’s not art. If it exceeds my ability (wouldn’t be too hard mind you, most people above the age of three could do this) then it qualifies as legitimate art!

Some of my favourite works of art, by the likes of Michael Sowa and Quint Buchholz, can be found not in galleries but on notecards (they may well be in galleries too - don't want to sell these talented individuals short!). Check out http://www.inkognito.de/ for some more than mediocre art.


1 - Peter Anderson - Persons of Interest, Kingston, Norfolk Island, 2006; oil on canvas

2 - The Oozy Scab - 2008; Pencil on paper

3 - On the Rocks, Shelley Beach, Caloundra, 2002; oil on canvas

4 - Quint Buchholz - Title and date unknown; Notecard

Monday, April 7, 2008

List of Delusions

I’m a list maker. If it’s not on a list, it’s most likely not going to get done. (In fact, I wrote a list of things to include in this post about lists). Lists give the illusion of having a purpose, being organised and in control.

But there’s a downside to list making – the abject feeling of failure when you reach the end of the day, weekend, week (or whatever your timeframe), and you find more items on your list are not crossed off than are crossed off. This feeling of mediocrity can easily be avoided, however. The trick is to be more expansive in your list making. Add, add, add. Everything should go on your list, especially things you’ve already done. These can then immediately be crossed off. “Get out of bed” – check! “Eat breakfast” – check! “Breath in” – check! “Breath out” – check!

In this way you are far more likely to shift the balance back to having more items checked off than not. It doesn’t matter that you may have only succeeded in merely existing and your thesis on procrastination remains unwritten. You have climbed from the ranks of list mediocrity to that of list mastery!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mediocrity at Work

Clearly mediocrity is everywhere. For a perfectionist, it can be very hard to accept mediocrity, particularly in their work. Now obviously, there are some occupations where mediocrity is a no-no. For example, an Ambulance Officer should always strive to eliminate mediocrity, as should a pilot. A chef on the other hand, while aiming for excellence, may get away with a little mediocrity every now and then (where’s the harm in a little food poisoning?).

Teachers, who obviously would like to be all-knowing, can use mediocrity to their advantage – “Yes I did spell that word incorrectly Jimmy, but I did it deliberately to see if you were paying attention!” On the flip side, it’s probably not good for a teacher to confuse “Naturalist” and “Naturist” when presenting student awards before the entire school and parent body. Similarly, they may need to think twice before announcing into the loud haler that, “All those boys with balls should be more careful!” And telling a four year old to, “Stop acting like a child,” frankly doesn’t make much sense.

Then there are those professions where mediocrity is a prerequisite. Journalism for example. Imagine if all the journalists suddenly became literate and well-informed! We would no longer need editors or talk-back radio!

So before beating yourself up for being mediocre at what you do (I’m not saying you are, you may be a flaming genius at your job), stop and think about the fact that perhaps your mediocrity is the very thing keeping you, and those around you, employed!