Master of None: Embracing a Life of Diverse Mediocrity

Back in high school my friend Billy was weirdly good at tennis. Good enough to go to state, play in college, and kick the crap out of all of his friends. That was my goal; be the best at something, anything, ideally something fun.

One random morning I distinctly remember walking up to my mom and saying: “Mom, I want to be the best, I want to win.” Or something along those lines (I actually don’t remember). What I do remember, however, is her response: “Ok, what do you want to give up then: Skiing? Sailing? Soccer? Football? Lacrosse?” At that moment I made the biggest and best decision of my life… I chose to be mediocre at everything.

Why do people limit their pursuits to one singular activity? Sure, its cool to kick-butt and win, but do you know what it's like to rip single track on your mountain bike and trim a spinnaker in 30 knot winds? Have you had to wet-exit a kayak in 6 foot waves, climb high above lake superior, or skied the American Birkebeiner? Maybe I am jealous that there is always someone better than me, but maybe I am having more fun. I like to think its the later.

My choice in activities may have changed over the years, but I still like to do everything and anything that sounds fun. On weekends I have to choose from: rock climbing, mountain biking, road biking, hiking, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, alpine skiing, nordic skiing, sailing, camping or whatever my friends are doing.

Committing to a life of diverse mediocrity is not for everyone. Choosing which activity to partake in will be difficult. Your climbing calluses will come and go. Your kayak may sit idle for weeks on end. That season pass to the local ski hill may not be a good idea, you will never bike enough, and you will spend every dime you make buying more gear. Trust me, it's all worth it.

Being mediocre at most and a master of none is not all fun and games. Actually...Yes, it is. Every day offers a new chance to explore. You can do whatever you want. No more early morning training or late night practice. It is up to you to get outside, become a weekend warrior, do whatever you want, and play all day. Or, you can focus on one activity and become really good at it...see ya out there.


Written by Kelly McMahon: Born and raised in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Kelly is the renaissance man of the Northwoods! He is a climber, paddler, skier, sailor, and generally ridiculously wonderful human. Kelly enjoys cheese as his food of choice, and can currently be found in Duluth Minnesota hanging out on Lake Superior.