My Place In This World

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I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out where I fit in this world.

Like everyone else on the planet, I’ve daydreamed about being a superhero or a rock star. Whether it’s using a towel like a cape or donning a hairbrush for a microphone, we’ve all fantasized about being in the limelight. And I would say most if not of us have tried it is real life as well. Whether it’s acting in a school play, singing for the talent show, or aiming for the fences in baseball, we’ve all tried to be that amazing actor/ singer/ athlete / comedian/ dancer/ or whatever to secure the attention and adoration from the crowd. Some succeed, and go on to live glory-filled lives, but the rest of us fail to break through the wall of mediocre. Maybe we try something else to see if that’s the hidden jewel, but chances are we are destined to be just another face in the crowd.

I tried to be one of those singer \ songwriters who plays guitar in a coffeehouse with visions of breaking into the music biz. But when I played, people would just stare at me like I was a car accident. My songs may have been decent and my voice acceptable, but I didn’t have the ‘it’ factor is. I was just an eyesore. Fine. I get it. Being a star isn’t me. I’d known it all along anyway. I don’t perform well in front of people. I can’t think straight and get all stupid. But I thought  I would try.

But I didn’t give up. If I can’t be the star, then maybe my place is the sidekick, right? If I’m not Batman, I can be Robin. If I’m not Sherlock, I can be Watson. I can be the trusted / smart / funny half of the hero team. But nope. That’s not me either. Why? Cause every sidekick needs a talent – something to either offset the hero’s weakness or to compliment his style. Otherwise he wouldn’t need a sidekick. Whether it’s being an acrobat like Robin, or smart like Spock, or strong like Chewbacca, a sidekick needs a thing. And I have none. Besides, the sidekick also has to come through in a pinch and save the hero from time to time. And that is definitely not me.

So fine. Skip that. Maybe I’m just a sideman. I’m the supporting character in a movie like the neighbor next door. I may have a few lines but otherwise I’m just part of the plot.  I’m like the bass player in the band. No one notices me or even remembers my name but I’m still important.  The second I stop playing the song sounds weak and empty. So, yes, I’m needed even if I’m stuck in the shadows. In fact, I’ve identified with the bass player most of my life. I even play bass in the band I’m in.  And you know what? And I am okay with that. I’m not the hero, but I’m happy knowing that I am important even though someone else gets all the glory.

But still… something doesn’t feel right. I may play bass in the band, but I still feel like an outsider. When the songs are done and everyone is hanging out having a good time, I feel like a misfit. Oh sure, I put on a happy face trying too hard to fit in. But I still feel awkward. I don’t have the skills to socialize. It’s like a foreign language to me. The more I try to fit in, the more I feel left out. In the end it’s too much work and I’m better off letting them have their fun while I go home alone.

So I guess I’m not the sideman either. So what’s left? Only one thing. I’m like the sound guy. I’m nowhere near the stage. I’m in the back, still contributing but just doing my job and completely ignored. Yes, I make the band sound good but I get no credit for it. I’m not even introduced or acknowledged because I’m just doing my job.

That’s a better fit for me. I’m not the hero like Batman. I’m not the sidekick like Robin. I’m not even a member of the team like Batgirl. In the end, I’m Alfred. I’m the loyal butler who keep things humming along in the background while the hero is out saving the world. It’s a thankless job. Oh sure, he has the respect and perhaps even the love of the hero he is serving, but he has no life and no identity outside of that.  No one else knows he exists. No one cares for Alfred. No one falls in love with Alfred. He never saves the day. He never gets the girl. And he never has his own happy ending.

That’s me. I’m Alfred.

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