A long time ago a friend of mine sent me a copy of Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. I don't know that I ever finished it (there's a tell-tale Whataburger receipt / bookmark parked in front of page 91), which is a shame since it has one of my all-time favorite quotes just 31 pages into the book. I don't really remember enough about it to provide a lot of context, but basically Franny and her boyfriend Lane are arguing about the reviews of an actor's performance in a play. As most silly arguments do, this one reveals differences bigger than whether an actor played his part well enough to earn a good review.
"All I know is I'm losing my mind," Franny said. "I'm just sick of ego, ego, ego. My own and everybody else's. I'm sick of everybody that wants to get somewhere, do something distinguished and all, be somebody interesting. It's disgusting - it is, it is. I don't care what anybody says."
Lane raised his eyebrows at that, and sat back, the better to make his point. "You sure you're just not afraid to compete?" he asked with studied quietness. "I don't know too much about it, but I'd lay odds a good psychoanalyst - I mean a really competent one - would probably take that statement - "
"I'm not afraid to compete. It's just the opposite. Don't you see that? I'm afraid I will compete - that's what scares me. That's why I quit the Theatre Department. Just because I'm so horribly conditioned to accept everybody else's values, and just because I like applause and people to rave about me, doesn't make it right. I'm ashamed of it. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody. I'm sick of myself and everybody else that wants to make some kind of a splash."
Maybe it's time I read the whole thing.
However, it is definitely time for me to get ready for work.