One question you hear the comedian Marc Maron ask a lot of standups and actors at the beginning of his interviews is: Who did you come up with? Who were your guys? By that he means, who were the comedians starting out around the same time as you? Who was there at the beginning with you?
It’s interesting how almost every one of Maron’s guests seems to be part of some kind of a cohort of fellow comedians or performers who cut their teeth in the same clubs or the same theaters at the same time. You can look at their careers and see how many of them got big breaks around the same time, and developed their careers along similar lines. There might have been some cutthroat competition between them, but as the years passed, it became clear that they all shared a common origin, almost as if they were part of the same graduation class.
In a way, this is just another illustration of that Stoic concept of sympatheia. That, whether we know it or not, we’re all on some kind of team, all part of some collective that is much bigger than us. It’s easy to lose sight of this, of course, when we are fighting for the #1 spot or trying to get noticed, but that’s only because each of us is naturally self-obsessed. But anyone with some distance, anyone in the audience or in the press, can’t miss it: We are shaping the scene we are in, just as it is shaping us. Our fate is bound up with other people—and their gain is not our loss. Quite the contrary, we each help each other—and help the world—when we excel and fulfill our potential.
We are all part of a scene. We all came up—and are coming up—with a cohort. Even the truly innovative mavericks did (Elon Musk, for instance, comes from the so-called PayPal Mafia). Try to spend some time thinking about that today. What scene are you in? Who else is in your graduating class? Who are your guys? Eventually you’ll come to appreciate being a part of it, and, with time, you’ll understand and be grateful to have shared the stage with these folks. Everyone does. That’s guaranteed.
What’s not promised are the lazy, nostalgia filled days of old age. So why wait to appreciate them? Why let decades pass when you could do it right now? When you could thank them now.