It has long been my goal to be the best second-rate mathematician in the world. Partially this is a joke; more importantly, it is an attainable goal.
You see, I know I am a smart person -- they don't just give away doctorates in computer science from one of the best Computer Science departments in the world. But, I am very much aware that I am not the smartest person in the world, and I am okay with that fact. I know that if I fell off the face of the earth, as much as my family, friends, and vast blogging audience would miss me, the world of science would keep on keeping on. I'm but a small cog in a very big system, and very much replaceable.
But, this really does not bother me. After all, if everyone were waiting on my brilliant insights to save the world, that would be an awful lot of pressure. Thank goodness I can live in obscurity and enjoy the precious time I have in life.
I do want to use my superior second-rate skills to make a difference in this world, however, and I do feel that I am able to do that in my job. I help application scientists to gain insight into the universe and the laws of physics -- thanks to my efforts, nuclear physicists will soon be able to use their codes to gain insights into even larger nuclei, and large logistics problems that were considered impossible are now in the realm of possibility.
I don't care whether students hundreds of years from now will ever know my name. All I want is for my anonymous efforts to have contributed to a better world for them.