Emil Alonzo Clark was an average height kid who looked shorter than he was because of how helpless and weak he seemed. This was all an outside perception, but if you could get a glimpse into his thoughts, your shallow notion about him would descend like a flimsy snowflake on a cold and quiet winter night.
He had the mind of a wise monk and the spirit of a hyperactive five-year-old. His learned sageness combined with his inborn vigor made him an idiosyncratic fella who expressed a sense of urgency about life, which is what simultaneously made him have the wisdom of a stubborn five-year-old and the fad of a wretched monk.
When he thinks he’s being wise, he’s being a fool. When he thinks he’s being a fool, he’s being wise. A formidable life paradox, he learned early. Words like “premature,” and “before his time” described him. He was unorthodox. Those words did not affect him, instead; those words impelled him to contemplate the dissonant “adult world.” Emil Alonzo Clark ponders and says, “The adult life is what’s left after enduring the world’s toughest theaters (e.g. robotic schooling, insipid job market) that sedates you.” But he is hopeful because he noticed what gets repetitive, gets hacked, and what gets hacked, gets fixed. It’s not a cycle. It’s humans’ inability to learn from other’s mistakes, fumbling through the splendor of long-term cycles.
His elegant world’s observations do not come from pondering in a glamorous palace or learning from an eminent philosopher. Quite the opposite. His life had much more trouble, difficulty, and sorrow than yours. Had he a gracious life, he would never have found these words to comfort you.
Behind his words, there was an unbreakable sense of direction filled with a burden of discipline. This burden gave him his worldview, his reality, and his everything. A seemingly good burden that made him achieve, think, and feel what most weren’t achieving, thinking, and feeling. How can that be harmful? It’s not. It’s great for everyone but him.
Remember Emil Alonzo Clark was as wise as a monk and as ingenious as a five-year-old? This isn’t a joke or metaphor. It’s true. This made him feel, recognize, and see what others didn’t feel, recognize, and see. All he wanted was differentiation. He wanted to be different. He wanted to act differently. Emil Alonzo Clark wanted to think differently.
But when you’re different, you’re different from who you were, you’re different from your peers, you’re different from your family, and you’re different from most people. Differentiation made him and destroyed him. Differentiation makes you a winner, but a different winner. A winner, different from others.
“Different from others” is the fundamental principle. He was, is, and will be a winner. But did he consider how different he’d be from others? How different he’d be around others? How different he’d feel when others realize he’s different? Forgotten but provocative questions. He can’t go back and be “normal.” He’s too different.
Why did Emil Alonzo Clark want to be different? It was never about competition. It’s simply a good proxy to identify where people aren’t thinking for themselves. Thinking for oneself does not mean being a contrarian. It’s about asking yourself what you want and deciding whether stuff life throws at you makes sense.
He avoids competition like a hydrophobic molecule. He starts projects no one can start but him. Because they require too much work or specific knowledge. He writes essays no one can write but him. Either for lacking experience, ability, or circumstances. He does things no one can do but him. “No one but him” thinking made him the best in the world at what he did.
But he was not careful in this pursuit. He was different. He was great. He was who he wanted to be but forgot who he wanted to be with. He was successful but alone. He had friends, lots of them. People knew him, and he knew people. Yet, he had no one to relate to or share ideas with. Don’t feel bad about Emil Alonzo Clark. He got what he wanted, and should be happy, right?
Being different took hard work and long commitments that made him get closer to his goals and even achieve many of them. He can be so “smart,” so “diligent”, and so “disciplined” that he forgot to find meaning in the void, laughter in the boring, and fulfillment in the banal. Nothing surprises him, nothing makes him go, “WOW!”
You may say, “He should try harder to find his people.” And he did, and found them in books. Only if Emil Alonzo Clark could talk to them, but he couldn’t as these people were behind words printed in pages of wood pulp. He was unsatisfied, but this feeling made him reflect and think about what it means to be different.
He realized when you’re different, you have less competition but the purpose of differentiation is not competing with others but complementing them. That’s how civilization flourished. People differentiated themselves (specialization) to do different tasks to achieve a greater common goal.
But Emil Alonzo Clark wasn’t that old at all. He probably was being dramatic, right? When he grew up, he lived in environments created by his parents. Now, his peers were creating his environment, which made him think about human relationships. However, he didn’t realize there was another phase for those who can think for themselves.
This phase is when you create your environment by choosing your peers. Until this point, what surrounded him from people, places, and objects was mostly random. He didn’t get to choose. Now, he’s getting to choose his peers and make his environment. A phase no one had told him but will change how enjoyable his life becomes.
For Emil Alonzo Clark, it was never about being “successful,” being “different,” or finding “friends.” It was about thinking for himself in an inharmonious world that forces you to want to be successful, to be different, and to find friends. He refused to follow and would always try to think for himself.
He’d ask himself what he wanted. He understood that good advice is context-specific, and he had an absurd willingness to go against the crowds. This made him seem like a confounded five-year-old, but he was completely apathetic. He understood something they didn’t. Fully living is fundamentally about thinking for yourself, independently of others.
Emil Alonzo Clark would get melancholic because it seemed he was alone and no one understood him. That’s the price he paid for fully living. But, he realized, he can’t do much about it because most refuse to see the world from their own original independent perspective.
He learned to give love, offer empathy, and leave compassion towards others. He never judged and would only try to understand. Independent thinking led Emil Alonzo Clark’s life and it provided him a way to decipher life’s questions and avoid entering the world’s miserable maze of corrupting souls.
Who is he?
He is Emil Alonzo Clark.
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