Mouse Moves – An Attempt at a Definitive View of the Gifted Underachiever


In elementary school I was part of a play called, ‘Of Mice and Mozart‘. I wasn’t one of the main roles. The play called for a group of dancing and singing mice and I was one of them. I remember I had to do the classic clap and sway move while singing some lyrics. The shyness already a part of me, I was given talks on making sure to actually participate and not just stand there. During the play my mom was going to be there filming. So, for her, I went for it. I clapped my hands and swayed like I actually wanted to do it. Even after all this time, I remember it not feeling good to do so. It felt dirty. I was just doing it for mom. I have a distinct memory of watching the tape afterwards and my mom’s giddy voice sauntering onto the recording: ‘He’s really getting into it!’

I’m the ‘If you put half this energy into your schoolwork…’ kid. In fact, I am the absolute pinnacle of that type of human. It’s always been obvious to everyone that I could do it if I wanted to. Except me. My public self-shaming mutated over the years with several different shades of self-awareness, but while there was always a little extra madness sprinkled on top of my garden-variety school angst, I believe I used to not be aware of my potential, that I was genuinely oblivious to the power.

Nowadays, the growing pains are raining down, maybe for the first time ever, and I’m starting to see just how capable I am. With that came another complete embracing, this time of a beautifully written inspirational line: Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. Yup, that line sums up any kind of growing I’ve actually done. I internalized the world is there for the taking and it shook me with a terror I’ve never felt before. A terror of power. Maybe it’s just the DMT-level mindfuck of realizing your potential after a life spent slaving away under the watchful eye of passivity, but the concept of LEADING, of taking CONTROL of the situation, of making life work for YOU, and actually MAKING what you want HAPPEN, is far, far too much for even a brain that I thought was stretched enough to gorge itself on any concept, no matter how large. How humans lust for power is beyond me – I go MAD just THINKING about it.

The next step in realizing I’m in control of my destiny is breaking through the supposed omnipresent apathy and realizing that I’ve actually acted in this way when I do want something. I chased the girls that made me excited enough to push away all of the garbage and actually feel the urge to want them. I took the train to New York City seven days a week and, without any knowledge of the city, started wandering around to any open mic I could find and performing stand-up in front of strangers, making my name known on the local circuit in a little under a year and a half. I stood in the freezing East Coast winter cold for 12 hours for a chance to audition for Last Comic Standing and made it past the first round. I called people who were barely acquaintances and went to places far away and dealt with odd social politics just to get bags of weed when I wanted to smoke. I up and left for the opposite end of the country with no plan whatsoever, no job set up or contacts or knowledge of the town, just because I had a dream. I wrote for endless hours and contacted local professors and police officers to research and complete a novel I had a thumping idea for. I forced myself to pick up a pen and actually try rapping after a closeted lust for it and performed it all over Los Angeles. I drove two hours there and two hours back in the middle of the night to perform in front of five people for ten minutes.

When I truly want something, I go for it. Sometimes instances like roaming around NY, finishing a novel, or rapping in Vegas actually get to me and I feel a rare surge of genuine pride. Putting all this together though, it all ties back into those goddamn mouse moves.

Often times, many times, damn near every time, what I’m supposed to do is not something I want to do. It’s those mouse moves. I don’t give a fuck about them or the play. But mom does. She wants to see me join in and it would mean a lot to her if I did. So I dance them. Of course I can. I can rip up that fucking stage better than any of those other mice, you bastards! I can ace college courses, and be open and polite and friendly, and get through job interviews with flying colors, and be a perfectly fun, interesting gentlemen on first dates, and take on Hollywood with my unique sense of artistry, and care for a girl and children and buy nice things and sit at Sunday dinner with my parents with the most suburban nice guy smile ever plastered on as mommy and daddy grin with approval. Of course I can do all of that. Not only am I not different from anyone who has, but I’m insanely smart, aware, and capable!

But those are mouse moves. It’d mean a lot to mom if I did them. It’d mean a lot to dad. To my friends. To my relatives. To the whole fucking world. Because let’s not lie – there IS a right way to act. The maturity blueprint is there for a reason. Any true nihilist still attempting to function will tell you that. We’ve learned after all these years, that for most, if not all, of the humans, this path helps with your health. Why fight it? Look at everyone who tried – I fought the world and the world won. Our heroes are all dead. Put them up on the wall but don’t be like them. College is preached more publicly than an ‘On the Road‘-esque lifestyle because overall, more people can handle the structure, the mouse moves, than can the unconventionality.

The mouse moves make most people feel good. Proud. Productive. Correct. Right. But to me, to my type? To all those too-smart-for-their-own-good, ‘Put that effort into the schoolwork’ dreamers? We see too much. We’re bored. Most people look at the stars, get a goofy smile, and say, ‘We’re pretty insignificant, huh?’, but then forget it. They take school or their job or their kids seriously. They don’t actually buy into the insignificance. They still truly believe their insect lives matter. But those of us who’ve internalized the insect? Those of us whose brains won’t let us forget for one second the magnitude of actual reality? It’s all mouse moves. The truth is blinding, hiding the importance of  the mouse moves behind its shimmering brilliance.

So I know about the mouse moves. I know how to do them. I know why people think they’re important. I know how people react to the people who get into them. I know how the world spreads its legs and opens itself up wide and raw to any who oblige to do them. Never let it be said that I don’t grasp everything there is to know about those mouse moves the same way the world’s most successful billionaires do.

But they’re for you. My enthusiastic clapping and swaying is for mommy and daddy and everyone else for whom the inner insect doesn’t burn as bright as the sun itself. I’ll do the mouse moves when I want something. Problem is, nowadays, with all the above knowledge internalized, when I know anything I want on this planet is entirely up to me, when I know I’ve rocked the mouse moves when I wanted to, when my Earth-shattering, parent-smile-inducing, the-whole-world-applauds potential gets in my face with that smug, glaring smile, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what the fuck I actually, legitimately, genuinely, truthfully want.

Whatever it is is gonna make my mouse ass groove like a motherfucker. But only when I’m doing those moves for me, you bastards. I’m far too aware now to waste energy dancing because it’s what you want. Insects have no ability for that.  They know the world shrugs at their death. In turn, no matter how mad anyone gets, these insect feet move only for me.

Only for me.

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