Thomas Edison famously claimed that genius was “One percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” It’s pithy, and I appreciate the sentiment — I really do. Clearly Mr. Edison was a genius and a successful man. But it also sounds to me like a relentless douchebag congratulated himself for being a such a relentless douchebag. And the world shouted “hooray,” because we love that shit.
Never give in. Never say die. Never give in the overwhelming might of the enemy. Never, never never. Never give up hope. Do not go gentle into that goodnight. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. It’s as American as apple pie and Mighty Mouse and Super-Sized energy drinks.
I am in no way a relentless douchebag. I’m a quitter.
Is there a place for us – the folks who have never coveted the corner office, never fantasized about a life of royalty?
It’s not that I don’t want to do well. I do want to be a success – to stay employed, to be appreciated for my talents, and have a comfortable financial situation. I’d like to own my own home again. I would like to have a solid relationship with a good man – something real, and true. I’d like to live out the rest of my days as a decent, genuine person.
None of this is interesting, of course. It’s not the stuff of best-selling memoirs or letters to Penthouse. I don’t want to wow anyone with my relentless pursuit of…anything. I don’t want my own reality show. I don’t hope to spend my retirement bragging about how ruthlessly I pursued my goals. How many losers I trampled over while ascending the long spiral stairway to Success.
In fact, I take a certain pride in my ability to stop trying and just walk the fuck away. If I wanted to be relentless, I could still be in my sham of a marriage, fighting to hold onto a guy who clearly felt that fidelity was optional – for him — and that snorting cocaine was a swell hobby. Staying in that marriage was killing me, slowly. I was working relentlessly to fix what I had no power to fix. Sometimes, the right thing to do is to just say “Fuck it.”
And this is why you’ll never see my face on the cover of Forbes. Because I am not just a quitter — I am a proud quitter. Quitting, to me, is an artform to be admired. Quitting should be taught in schools. It is just as important to success as working hard. I’m not suggesting that we all quit everything and sit on our asses. But couldn’t we allow ourselves a little bit of common sense, and the freedom to let go of the bullshit?
I want to propose a new recipe. Genius is 40% perspiration, 40% inspiration, 10% laughter, 5% good hygiene, and 5% knowing when to say “Fuck it.” I hope you’ll join me. Because, when you get the hang of it, saying “Fuck It” can change your life for the better.