Everyone knows Rich. At least according to Rich. Everywhere Rich goes, people queue up to get a glimpse of him. They indulge in acrobatic acts of servility to get his attention. Rich’s favorite hobby is to look for people that aren’t giving him attention and scream the words “do you know who I am?” into their face.
Rich also has regular hobbies. This weekend, he’s decided to trek up a mountain. He assembles a small army of sherpas to carry his gourmet food, cutlery and heated toilet seats for him. As Rich climbs up the mountain, he has an epiphany: he wants to move this mountain. He shares the idea with his fellow trekkers and they say it’s the best idea since sliced potato chips.
“Do you know who I am?” yells Rich looking up to the top of the mountain.
At a distance, a monk and his goat hear a faint echo.
Rich stumbles on the duo on his way up. Neither the monk or the goat show any interest in the arrival of Rich and his boy band and continue their shared purposelessness. Rich goes up to the monk and says, “you and your goat will need to find a new place. I am planning to move this mountain.”
The monk looks up at Rich and says, “do you know who I am?”
Everyone goes quiet. Rich can’t believe what he just heard.
Stunned, stung, Rich says: “I don’t know who you are! In fact, no one knows who you are!”
Monk: “But I know who I am.”
I was half-tempted to end the essay with that.
I feel the need to say a few things more.
We are all like Rich. We all want to be known, all-encompassingly. There was a time not long ago when your value was determined by the number of Facebook friends you had. The idea of being known comes to us very early.
Life is a popularity contest: The winner is the loser; The loser, the winner.
The desire to be known is a nauseous road of insecurity and idiocy. The road of popularity is paved to make you forget who you are. It’s the brick of regret that breaks you when you realize everyone knows you, but you.
Knowing is the journey, and the only way to move the mountain is by taking it.