I coulda been somebody (or, mildly put, who cares?). Deconstructing the common power trip.

That which distinguishes us most from “the animals” is really just the conscious assertion of power. Everything man has created throughout history, from grand cathedrals to bridges to string theory, is a result of his self-conscious desire for power. Money, pussy, fast cars, fame…whatever. That’s all fluff, meaningless end product. The elemental drive that cheers us on to do the crap we do is simply…power.

Power comes in many forms and in many degrees of luminosity. People likewise share their lust for power in highly varying degrees of exertion.

It took me about 45, maybe 46 years, to realize and accept the fact that I simply crave power much, much, much less than most people, and it’s this dearth of appetite for power that explains my life. In fact, I despise the notion of having any sort of power. Power is responsibility and it devours autonomy. The need for power spawns delusions of grandeur which some people find worthy of trading their soul to safeguard.

Power is personal dominion over a specific aspect of our social, professional or emotional life. Ruthless ambition, materialism, fixation with appearance…these are all manifestations of need for power. What is ambition other than the craven and usurious drive to attain and assert power? Power for some can be as benevolent and innocent as sparring to get their child into an elite grade school. Everything we do is structured around the acquisition, and then maintenance, of power. I lift weights and I assume that I do it for the sake of fitness and health, which is the truth, up to a point. But lifting weights also serves to differentiate myself in a robust and powerful manner from other men by virtue of enlarging my masculine physiological visual power centers, such as my triceps, deltoids and pectorals. If these muscle groups are noticeably and proportionately larger than those of other men, I am then accomplishing a stupid power trip. I recognize this.

Nevertheless, I loathe overt displays of power that most people lazily cultivate because cosmetically, they are easier than truly building an inner sense of power that takes patience and time. It’s easier to buy a Porsche or battle for a lucrative position and title that to truly spawn a source of power from within. Power over others bores me and leaves me dissatisfied. In fact, I’ve always been slightly uncomfortable with that type of power I possess which is the most common and primal in the human species: “parental power.” I am a poor practitioner of this power, but I try very hard hard because I realize this is one of the most important and crucial power dynamics in existence. It can shape generations and societies! However, I’m so uncomfortable with this parental power role that I frequently shirk my disciplinarian duties. I despise telling people what to do and how to live. I would make a terrible politician. Politicians are the most disgusting example of artificially induced power in modern society. Their goal is one of pure, unadulterated power. I don’t believe politicians when they sputter about altruism. Garbage. They are lying. There are many avenues to altruism without involving political office and dictating how people must live. The simple act of being elected sets off an endless unfolding reaction of power gluttony. It’s like the girl who gets asked to a dance…she becomes the power broker for that moment. Likewise, to be elected to a representative office by thousands or millions of voters imbues the recipient with instant measures of unbridled power.

Ambition is solely the striving for power. Conformity is a tool used to ease one’s path to power. We don’t all seek power over a lot of people. Most people seek power over their own little world. We seek power in property, in career prestige, in stupid IQ measurements, in degrees, in certifications. These are superficial power gradients that satisfy because we believe they signal to our peers that we have POWER. And if our goods and status exceed those of others, it signals that we have MORE power than they. Obviously, we are not singularly leaders of the free world, but we are leaders of our small pitiful social realms. Power comes in many guises.

Power is slavery. I find it ironic that as we achieve this magical notion of power in our lives, the tighter and unrelenting become the shackles which bind us. The least powerful man in your village is likely the freest. The circular self-reinforcing quotient at play in the heads of many people is a belief that power is freedom but use of freedom in such a context is a misnomer because freedom to wield power is not freedom, it is authority. President Obama is surely one of these least free men in the world. I do not envy his position nor do I particularly admire those who would be President.

It is important to note that the drive to seek power is not in and of itself the destroyer of freedom. Rather, it’s the conscious drive which only humans seem to possess. Power dynamics occur across the entire animal kingdom, but in such cases, power is a natural fomentation of innate “skills” that result in an individual’s assertion of power, whereas in humans, we are too willing to wield power simply because we want it, not because we are suited for it. We are the only animal in which the desire to hold power is as important as the ability to assert the same. Equality and democracy create situations in which the inept attain power purely on the strength of persistent desire.

Personally, in addition to my parental parent power role, I also possess a minor and trivial career power role which is minimal and comical, at best, but nevertheless, I find myself in a position which places me in a state of “power” balance over others. I find it less than fulfilling and embarrassing. I’d rather just work hard and let someone act like they matter. I can’t take myself seriously in this power role. I once declined the position, and when it presented itself again a few years later, I realized to decline again might cause more harm. Society does not treat those who eschew power kindly.

Power is empty and perfidious to those who mock it. Everyone else falls under its spell.

I sometimes wish I had been more power hungry as a child, as a person. I have the brains to take advantage of ambition, but the ambition is not there because I never cared enough to really want this petit power trip that propels most people into doing everything under the sun just to keep up with the Jones’s or at least with the anonymous strangers living grand stellar lives on MTV or HGTV.

If I had craved power, I coulda been Somebody. Instead, I chose to be somebody.