I love this. I like your point- the evidence of which I see all the time- about the damnation of exceptionalism. Bottom line for me, and ultimately for all of us, Sean, is that nobody else is on my racetrack. Not you, not other writers, nobody. THAT is why staying in the room when it is clear you are in the presence of giants is so critical. I can only push to my own outer boundaries, explore my own limitations, and define success on my own terms. Others can push, inspire, cajole, cheer. But nobody else is on this track, this race. That is why, ultimately, comparisons really are odious. I used to believe that if I were going to learn a new skill, I HAD to be the best or be an utter failure. What pap. And costly. I know when I’ve done my best, I know when I am tapped out, and I know when to let go of what doesn’t work. I am not and never will be Toni Morrison. But I can sure learn from that giant. And her exquisite excellence doesn’t diminish my star one bit. There’s a place in the firmament for us both (and all of us) to shine.

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