At the time of this writing (and reading), I am the writer and you are the reader. As such, I do not know much about who you are (as that is how this relationship works), but chances are that you know what a trophy wall is. It is a place for polite company to gather and view the dismembered remains of a hunter’s prior kills, perverting the designs of maggots and flesh eating beetles. It is a place to regard one’s success as an unassailable predator, all while being stalked silently from the shadows by your inevitable acquiescence to one too many double quarter-pounders with cheese. It is a gross enshrinement of the unnatural and the unnecessary. It is a panacea for insecurity and doubt.
In short, it’s a wall covered with trophies.
I am fiercely unsentimental about physical things, but in my little office I allow myself a trophy wall. This is perhaps a grand name for the small space above my desk that holds mementos of projects I have finished, or projects that never quite were but might be again some day. Too humble are my framed magazines and game discs, but together that is what they are, my trophy wall. I have strictly enforced rules regarding the wall (in the spirit of fun). I allow myself only one trinket per project, and I must feel at least some amount of pride for the project as a whole. Upon completion of a new project, I rearrange the trophies using a dousing rod of pure emotion (making it indistinguishable from an actual dousing rod). It’s the rare time that I put my feelings in the driver’s seat, and as a rule I don’t stop until I feel am finished. I am hard pressed to describe the system that ranks the items that hang above me as I write this, but rest assured, they are all in the right place.
The reason for the trophy wall is that I am an ambitious person, although the term “ambitious” has been ruined by people that enjoy achievement. I am not one of these people, and quite frankly, I do not understand them. Ambition is adjacent to achievement, in the same way that defecating is adjacent to eating. They are linked, but one is more the byproduct of the other. A truly ambitious person shits out achievement, but it is not the reason for it. You might know ambition by way of its cousin, “discontent”. From the peaks of discontent you can see unhappiness, misery, and a sharp decent into hemorrhagic ulcers. But on a good day ambition skirts these synonyms. On a good day ambition is true to itself, which is to say it is simply nomadic. Ambition roams and travels, not to any destination, but to somewhere, anywhere but here. Because it likes to. Because that’s what it does.
As such, a trophy wall for the ambitious is counter-intuitive, since to them celebrating past success is foreign. I can’t describe why my trophies are hung in the order that they are, and I feel similarly blocked when thinking about how they make me feel. I know that on hard days, when I feel mired in discontent, drowning in it, misunderstanding myself, my trophy wall makes my toes twitch. Maybe it is because those little rectangles on my wall form the shape of a map that tells a story of where I’ve been, reminding me that even when it feels like I’m standing still I’m always moving. Or maybe they’re like little buildings on the horizon behind me, and all I can think is that it’s getting crowded around here and I’d best press on.
And that’s a long way to say that I have a trophy wall here on my website too. It follows the same rules as my trophy wall at home: it holds things that I’ve participated in that I feel proud of, and I’ve arranged it according to rules that I refuse to elaborate on. I hope that you’ll indulge me in this selfish, stupid thing, rightfully analogous to an unblinking herd of stuffed elk faces. But it makes me feel at home. It makes my toes twitch.