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Coattails

I have a habit of finding the best or smartest or most talented person in a setting, and becoming close friends with them.

My long time best friend is generally considered one of the nicest most genuine people any of us know. He was the person everyone was hoping would show up at parties, a million girls wanted to date him, all that crap. He went on to do very well in college and become a successful professional in a very interesting field that people love to talk to him about.

And I always felt great when I could interrupt a conversation about him to remind everyone that he was my best friend. Even today, in our third decade of friendship, I still feel like the girl dating the quarterback.

In college, I quickly became extremely close friends with, and soon after roommates with, one of the top students in my college. He was in the honor society, he was consistently awarded ‘best project in studio’ every semester, a couple times beating me, jerk. He tutored kids (including me) in statics and structures.

And I always felt great that I got to call him up, or knock on his door whenever I needed help on a project, and just wanted to steal some of his shine.

When I played in bands, I always made sure I was the worst musician and songwriter in the band. I was for a long time the third best guitarist in a band with only two guitarists, wrap your head around that. I would offer my ideas up here or there, but I could never keep up, technically, or offer much, musically, to benefit the band. I recorded ten songs onto two albums (kind of) and of those ten songs, I wrote the opening and verse riff of one song, and I wrote another song entirely with another person. Those are my writing credits. Wow.

But I always felt great when we received good reviews or had a solid show or we did well in a band battle. I could always say that was my band.

I think that I need to face two realities.

First, I like to ride on coattails of people with true talent. I guess my true talent is getting these people to let me tag along for the ride.

Second, I like to be a part of, or at least adjacent to, greatness. I know that one of my strengths (and I’ve known this for a long time) is criticism. I know how to deploy it to serve what I believe to be best. I have always been good at recognizing what doesn’t work in a situation, and I am generally good at offering a solution. But what I am not very good at is creating the thing that then has the problem, to begin with.

If you study art history at all you will notice that quite a few master-workers have people they work with or a tight circle of friends that share ideas. I’m always that guy. I’m like the Harper Lee to Truman Capote, if Harper Lee hadn’t written one of the most important books of all time; or maybe Art Garfunkle if Art couldn’t sing a lick.

I’m a facilitator, a sounding board, a sidekick. My greatness, if it is anywhere, is with my critique, and even that is pretty weak.

This blog is really the first endeavor in my life where I am the lead man. And surprisingly I am getting a ton of great feedback and I feel like I am getting better at this. Maybe I don’t have to follow the path I have always taken.

But I would probably rather be ghost writing for someone who could teach me things and this blog would be better and have a wider appeal. I guess I can’t change that about me.