Elton John's insatiable desire to be constantly achieving greatness

Elton John

Pierce TurnerWexford People

Reggie never feels like it’s quite good enough for him. He isn’t too bad during the celebrations, when he’s with the gang, having a drink and hooting about this crazy world and the people in it. But inevitably when he wakes up the next day, he sees through it all and believes that it’s all a rouse, just another clever manipulation by himself, to appear equal to his idols.

He may have fooled others, but he hasn’t fooled himself. His manager calls to congratulate him, Reggie is facetious, “Congratulate for what?” He shouts. “For winning an Oscar,” his manager replies “It’s just for one lousy song,” Reggie snaps, “it’s not like I’m Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia.”

It was never enough for Reggie Dwight, and that’s what the record company loved about him. He was driven, so driven that he would stop at nothing. People who worked at his record label would go out for a pint with friends and forget about Reggie when they went home to their families. But Reggie never turned off, he was always looking for more. If he could conquer Mars after Earth, he would do so, but unfortunately his ambitions are restricted to Terra Firma. And if the unfortunate occasion should arise when he realises that, you better hope that you’re not the informant.

Eternity has no ceiling, it’s infinite, and no matter how much we read about infinity, we will never fully comprehend it, because it’s not something we can experience. Our life span is irrefutably finite, and everything that humankind says and does is based on the capability of ourselves. We seek to reach the ceiling while we are alive, not realising that it can never be reached because the Universe is infinite.

We are not all like Reggie of course, still if we were put in his position we might be. Still, one man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, and most of us believe we’d be satisfied to achieve what he has achieved. But are we happy with what we’ve achieved ourselves? Probably not, because that is the principle of being. However we still have plenty to achieve, and for most of us, it’s enough.

When Reggie was 50, he threw a party to end all parties, I know because I was there with Clare, who was his manager’s personal assistant. Reggie’s outfit was so outrageous, they had to hire a van that was tall enough for his hair. He was dressed in a white, feathered and sequinned Louis XIV outfit, complete with a massive curly wig and a miniature silver Spanish galleon on top.

The traffic was horrendous that evening in London, and the large van was extra cumbersome as it slowly weaved its way to Hammersmith Palais where the event was held. The last minute change of transport held things up too, causing him to be even later, which in turn caused him to lose his rag, because once again it wasn’t good enough for someone like Reggie, and he made sure that everyone knew about it the next day.

When we look at people like Reggie, we are filled with admiration for what they have achieved, and their endless ambition. We admire them for thinking that nothing is good enough, for thriving on stress, instead of backing off like we may have done ourselves. But they say that stress is ok in short doses, and not ok if it persists. We are supposed to stop when something hurts, otherwise it may never heal.

Maybe Reggie could stop once. But not anymore, not since he changed his name to Elton John.