Daniel Sue has competed in various marathons, triathlons and three Iron man competitions. To put it into perspective, an Iron man competition comprises of a 2.4-mile swim,112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon.
This feat has been completed by less than 0.001% of the worlds population and probably only a handful of Fijians. Therefore for Dan, as I have always called him, having to eliminate mediocrity from his modus operandi is almost a given and its no surprise that his mantra is that;
” Mediocrity scares me. If you are going to do something, be the best”.
Average does not get you to compete on that scale. Average does not allows one to successfully complete one Iron Man, let alone three; and average certainly doesn’t allow you to take risks like taking a sabbatical in South America to perfect your craft which Daniel did. For a person with accomplishments such as this, mediocre should rightly scare him.
So how do I, an average UK Fijian diaspora lady, know this Iron Man conquering bloke? Well, Dan and I were the Athos and Aramis to our close-knit high school trio. Our marine loving Kelly Thomas Brown was our Pathos and together we spent most break times together being anti-establishment, unconventional, and slightly weird (sorry Kel, I’ve grouped you with the slightly bonkers 🙂 ).
We endured class detentions together, the weirdest of which was to sit completely still during school hours and not do anything. There we were, all sat at our tables in silence until the ‘oh-most-benevolent-Principal’ decided that we were worthy of a proper class time. This punishment of silence was designed to directly contrast to our love to converse.
However, we were not talkative. We only loved to converse. There is a difference if you must know. Being talkative is to vie at being the popular kids in school, which we weren’t!
We conversed. Kel conversed in order to find an outlet for his intelligence, we endured listening to his Jules Verne inspired love for everything marine. Dan conversed to satisfy his ever-curious nature which at 14 was already pretty evident; and I conversed to put to words my wanna be revolutionary ‘ai, ai, ai Brigadier Sabari’ energy (Don’t mind me- I had revolutionary dreams!)
We had bits of each in us and together we filled the spaces between our growing limbs with conversations of our highly reactive pheromones, how Liam and Noel Gallagher monetised their argument and how Buotros Buotros Ghali’s was vetoed in his second term.
We also had endless conversations about the plots in Julies Caesar and Hamlet, not that we were studious but because our English teacher in the final year kept missing classes so we had to teach ourselves because we wanted to get out of there! And make it out we did. Dan went off to Australia and then to the UK for work for the BBC while Pathos and Aramis headed over to our local University.
With a master’s in public policy, Dan now works for an energy company and has spent most his pre-lockdown spare time taking up a new challenge, mountaineering & rock climbing. I suppose it makes sense after one has swam, cycled and ran close to near sea level; one would naturally want to soar for the skies.
I know Dan enough to realise that his life mantra is not a sneer at mediocrity per se because it does not arise out of a snobbish response of a person of privilege. Dan has had his fair set of challenges, one of which was losing his father a few hours before we sat our Maths FSFE (the equivalent of an A level) paper. No, his fear of mediocrity is a balm that propels him to satisfy his curiosity for the things he loves which all just happen to be on the extreme scale of human effort.
My ability to relate to this mantra is not out of loyalty to our friendship but the fact that I had to use it various times in the course of my migration journey. In particular in my first job as a cleaner, it was my self-talk as I jumped out of bed to hold a mop that if I was going to be a cleaner at this stage in my life than I was going to be the damn best cleaner the world has ever seen!
It is not a snobby mantra at all, it is a challenge to yourself that if you are going to do something than at least be the best. If your lot in life is to be a back office staff processing invoices than by all means be the best invoice processor that office has ever seen. Just go ahead and own it! It is even mandated by the bible (Ecclesiates 9:10). I did, Dan has and our favourite Pathos certainly has, with him being the excellent Captain Nemo of his Sharkosphere.
Our conversation for this piece has been twenty years in the making but we haven’t missed a beat in between. We talked about Jacinta Arden, Clapham Common and the life journeys that the other had missed. I shut our zoom session and smiled to myself.
I am so not surprised that mediocre scares him. If it did than we would seen the signs in high school, ‘the just getting by’ and we probably wouldn’t have been friends. Kel would have had to find a more intelligent soul to talk about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with; and I would have to dissect Alpha Blondy songs on my own or plot my own revolution in solitude.
In our own little way, we had cultivated this mantra and it has manifested itself bit by bit in our lives. That he never settled is probably why the three of us were the Arthos, Pathos and the Aramis of our high school.
This is our Dan. Our not the average Dan.
We know there are many ‘not your average Joe’s’ out there, the ones that have resolved to be the best at what they do. We take our hats off to you. Whether you have resolved to be the best mum, husband, baker, CEO or just the best all round good guy – you are where the good stuffs at so if ever you are need of an eclectic mixed do-gooder trio- you will find good company with us!
Not your average Miri @ The Platformm Team