We were building a bridge. A point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ structure rising and slanting so that one, two, or maybe more, golfballs could roll their dimpled selves across. It was built like the rest. From the limited supplies—a few sheets of Philadelphia newspaper, a stretch of easily-ripped tape, straws, and some of those malleable wires coated in a colory fur. Separated into teams so that we could organize our ideas and win the timed competition.

 

In order to become a legit leader in society, one must climb the ladder. In the democratic sense, it doesn’t matter how free-spirited hippie your persona appears. One foot, other foot. Up the stringers and into the circle. In order to get to this point, one makes promises, guarantees backdoor privileges, and in a roundabout way molds themselves into something altogether different. A slave. A vector. Something.

The black-tinted folk may cherish a black-tinted president just as the other-tinted who are supporters of human equality, but success should never be measured as a ‘foot in the door’. This sort of success guarantees nothing. That historically controversial elect could turnout to be the next Hitler or the respectable watered-down Hitler that only wants to rope the whistlers.

It doesn’t matter what color your skin is. It doesn’t matter to which class you belong. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. All that matters is that you continue to become and that you actively avoid the blemishes up the rungs.

The Butler tries to sneak-in a knockout twist that’s meant to curdle on-screen and off. First-off, I greatly dislike the fast-forward celebration of aged contempt and its complete dissociation from present hate. The butler’s son is supposed to feel some crinkly-wrapped connection to his estranged father, the same to be felt by the audience. His fast-paced activism is quickly blunted by the reality that his house-slave father was riding the same train he was. That the shoe-shining penguin was a slow-paced ‘foot in the door’ hero, when in reality he just rode the wave of aged acceptance as this sort of hate became narrower—sharper.

At the top, one becomes the other. Connected by the then-forced friendships and now motivated into a clique of same-goal garble and trades of self. The malnourished perspective of one becomes the lackluster supper for the hungry climbers.

And because Hitler is the instantaneous audible disgust that fills our minds with many objections, I recruit him once more. What if Hitler was the modern respectable standard of what it meant to be a ‘president’? Would you still wish to chariot your pigmentation into the oval office? Of course you would not. In the same though, why would you condone amoral puppets term after term? Obviously the system is set up in a way that appears to be giving the population a choice. A vote. Throw in the Electoral College and now you disparage the notion that the elects are predestined politically-polished contenders—a chosen bag of letters, letting you Scrabble.

 

And so I felt guilty sitting there. Half there and half in my imagination. A similar feeling I’ve felt my entire life.

Is it okay to not cry after losing the District Championship soccer match?

Is it okay to not be emotionally engaged in the competition? To have fun and nothing else?

It is all that surrounds you that makes you feel guilty. That collective soul. The stale mood. The incentive to agree. Groupthink.

I’d like to think I would be that detached professional athlete lower-incoming myself into a more naturally laid-out calendar. Avoiding the wear and tear and the unnecessary rage to be the best. Getting out of my head and just hobbying away. When I participate in sports, there are certain people I am supposed to demolish and there are those that I am supposed to leave with that near-win casino feeling. When I lose to the chump, I am supposed to feel embarrassed. As if the world has ended. Like wearing sunglasses and a big hat because my spouse just went all hands at my face. When I lose to the admirable chump, I become the admirable chump, until the music plays again.

Over time I became good at things and let these feelings dictate the fun-meter. In time, I recognized my Hyde and embraced the unconcerned carefree. Celebrating the individual, not caring too much about how they felt, because they would feel one way or the other, and my ‘caring’ would only be another brick in the backpack.

 

Peter, what are you doing?

We need those!

Can you help us?

Here, can you put this together?

Potholed by their shared identity, our victory was never to be. Too many ticks tocked, and we had already concreted our bend.

I am that smart-ass student, spectator, or whatever that always throws in his two-cents about the various loopholes. After charbroiling the importance of teamwork, I acknowledged the task as well as my team. Then I bumped-up the volume of my voice-box and pointed-out that we should just build a short slant as our bridge. There were no specifications for dimensions, shape, or really much at all. I guess we were all just expected to envision that flat, long, and above water bridge as it was. To think out of the box with the materials before us, while remaining boxed into our accepted prototype. A competition to build via the ingrained directions time has graced us with. Not a competition to achieve the goal simply and efficiently.

The spokesperson fondled with my idea, out loud and in the corners of her neurons, eventually negating my design. So we built my team’s design. What did it look like? Well, imagine a bridge built from the previously mentioned materials and within twenty minutes. It shot for forced complexity and toppled first roll.

After that big speech about how important teamwork is in nursing and in life in general, I couldn’t help but feel like a self-righteous brat. I knew I could work out something better and that I just needed them to shut up. And then this thinking made me feel even more guilty, as if I was staring obvious in the face and saying I couldn’t see it.

And with a minute left, voila. I had it. Let’s make a cylinder. Let’s roll the paper and tape it. Then we’ll take more paper and create two hugging mounds that can support the bridge over all the beneathness. A bridge perfectly shaped to guide the Titleist.

At that point, I had already lent my hands to drone away for the team. By voicing my last minute opinion, they knew what I had done. They knew that I was thinking for myself by myself. They knew that my attention was not focused on their shared objective. They knew that I was some sort of selfish bastard.

And to this day, I can only say: Fuck that mentality.

Think for yourself. Always. First.

Never become part of the team. Contribute to the team, but don’t ever be the team. Build upon their ideas, or smash them. Constructively distinguish yourself. Don’t ever feel guilty for thinking. Don’t ever feel guilty for feeling detached from the contagious mood. Be an individual because a team of individuals is the team that will endure. Be the basketball player that only shoots hook-shots, from every distance, seeing that the hook-shot gives the offensive player a clear advantage. That advantage, a body between he or she and the opponent. An obvious buffer allowing so much more. Be that president that cons his or her flesh into the White House, and then be that moral human-serving individual you can be—are.

There are individuals out there that distinguish themselves from others. Individuals that are recognized, often too many years later, for their fortitude and unworldly presence of mind. From LeBron to da Vinci. If they were to think and or act as the great majority do, there would be no advantage and there would be no advancement. Time would stand still in sameness.

We tend to celebrate these small victories when sameness collides with reality. That point of no return.

But don’t mistake my words as evidence to individual nobility over the clotted gutters of teamwork. Individualism is a defense mechanism. A way for humans to escape ridiculousness and continue. Teamwork, over time, is the mutated belief of one, then many, then all. Believed, Traditioned, and fought for until Hollywood opens its doors and profits from decades-ago fallacy.

It is so very possible to be a team of individuals, but so very hard to only be motivated by the simple pleasures of life. Happiness. Wellness. Equality. Life.

Utopia for humans is impossible because we are motivated by capitalistic self-advancement. Utopia for the ahistorical species that live amongst us is impossible as well, because humans have the seemingly limitless ability to tamper as they please and or see fit. The ability to think for oneself disallows Utopia, but at the same time it acts to balance out the world. Teamwork propagates a false-pride that ensnares many individuals into an instinctual relationship with the world. Unlike this world’s lacking-in-wits species that fly, crawl, and swim around us, the instinctual beliefs of teamwork are not natural or geared towards logical survivalism, but rather the mutated beliefs of one, then many, then all. Therefore, if you think for yourself and remain critical in your ways, you are yourself, a creature of reaction. And if you follow the pack, herding along, you do not think for yourself, but rather just passively follow your misaligned instincts.

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