Amidst the massive crowd of rabble, which is still limited enough just to be numbered, a man cannot help but despair at his lack of worth. As the colony continues despite the death of a single ant, so too does the world of men continue without noticing the loss of an individual. Maddening horror envelopes any poor soul intelligent enough to recognize his generic existence but not outstanding enough to rise above it. To know that one is not unique even in the realization of insignificance is to take the full weight of existence onto one's shoulders. To bear that weight and endure that stark reality is courage, but for all too many it is a burden that cannot be tolerated. Escaping into delusion is not difficult, as indeed it takes only a few words to convince some that they are the deliberate creation of a caring deity, and some others believe they can become god-like themselves. Still others seek respite in delusions of grandeur, egregiously inflating their own egos and believing themselves superior by virtue of something beyond control, like race. Desperation to escape resounding truth is endemic of the cowardly and foolish.
In the glory of youth, the desperation to be exceptional is largely absent. Even if a child struggles to find self-worth it isn't a strecth of the imagination to believe that in some conceivable though far-off day, the child will achieve greatness. Teenagers and young adults are similarly protected by the sheer amount of time that is presumably open to them. Even if a life is rife with failure and disappointment, it is still quite difficult for cold, frank truth to entirely quash the dreams of glory.
At some point though, the dreamer is forced to wake. This point is commonly referred to as a mid-life crisis. It is quite aptly named, as it is indeed a crisis, and it could not be experienced before the onset of one's later years. Even if I, writing this very article, or you the reader were to summon the courage necessary to admit that our lives will more likely than not end in disappointment and paltry success at best, we could still not understand the depth of despair felt by those who have seniority of years. To think on despair is one thing, to have the experience forced upon oneself is quite another thing altogether. A man (or woman) cannot accomplish everything desirable in life, and since certain spheres must be neglected to the benefit of others, it is inevitable that regret will surface. This regret could be reasonably managed if the person still had the saving grace of time; their lack of time and recognition therein is the source of despair.
How might such feeling be combated? Success is ironically guaranteed to those who are weakest of temperment, as in their superstition they are easily convinced of their worth by virtue of worthlessness, they essentially believe themselves blessed because of their failures. This victory is founded on delusion, but it is a victory nonetheless, since many will go to the grave believing their lie without ever having the truth hoisted upon them. And thus they die undefeated, but still deluded and pathetic. If one is to truly triumph over inadequacy and impotency in the face of reality's all-consuming and crushing force one must be willing to admit a certain degree of failure. Not everyone will become famous, nor will everyone be remembered or glorified. One must renounce the need for such validation before true meaning can be established against the tides of nihilistic horror.