On Saturday night my husband I went out to a Greek place we’d never been before. The only thing that was really different about this night was that we had had to leave Adeline at home, and we were celebrating my bday because my mom wanted to babysit, and normally the kid pretty much goes everywhere with us. So what did this mean? Ouzo of of course! We each had one eensy beensy ouzo with dinner. It felt like we were being really wild. (sigh)
And Jeff said something I was so glad to hear him say. He was talking about goals in life and how if you pursue something you want to do and you never forget that that is something you want to do, you will slowly set yourself up to be able to realize that goal. And even the most impossible thing, the most impossible idea that you wish you could do, you can accomplish, just by all the little decisions you make in your life every day. The problem is that so many people give up, and me too, settle for less, don’t even start because we write off our ultimate as something that could never be accomplished. We settle for less from the start. Or we maybe don’t think we are capable of doing really cool amazing things in our lives. Or maybe we are worried, or scared. And sometimes, we try, and one or two failures in, we give up. But he set forth this challenge for us, knowing that we both have desires for our lives which right now seem almost totally impossible, that we should not give them up, not settle for less but hold out and look for that door. Make the little decisions everyday that will facilitate what we might some day be able to do. It’s when Jeff says things like this that I fall in love with him all over again. Because I knew this, but somehow I forgot it, or maybe it was put on the back burner.
It might be winning an Olympic gold metal, it might be serving in an orphanage in eastern Europe, it might be taking your time to travel around the world, it might be moving to a new country, it might be getting an advanced degree, or becoming a musician who can do music or compose for a living, it might be being a writer or a photographer, or an artist or thespian, those jobs that seem impossible to support yourself in. It might be starting a program to teach skills to young men, it might be starting a community service involvement, it might be an activist thing, or becoming a linguist or an anthropologist…anything, it might be anything. But we all too soon give up those dreams when others discourage us, or when we run up against a failure or two.
I know I was told from time immemorial that I couldn’t be in theater because it didn’t pay the rent. And so I never even pursued it. Sigh, I can’t believe that I believed that.
For my part I learned this in my 20’s. I was 21 a college drop out and about all I had really done was hold an office job in Seattle and date a lot of really good looking young men, none of whom weren’t really even a quarter of the man I married. I thought by “partying” looking good, being independent, I was basically supposed to be completely satisfied in life. I was so far from that. I was miserable, directionless and carried a suitcase of garbage that said “loser” on the side of it.
When I started college I was scared to death someone would think I was not smart. I worked incredibly hard, I was motivated primarily by fear in this time. Since I chose a foreign language major, I knew that if I graduated and couldn’t actually speak Spanish comfortably, I’d be lost. So I practiced as much as possible and did the study abroad. A number of things happened there that focused me with a fury. My motivation came at this time more from a feeling of proving myself. I was incredibly self-absorbed, but all I wanted to do was travel more. I completed my certification in ESL with high marks in all of the linguistics classes taught by professors who said things to me like “Maybe you just aren’t cut out for this subject” They taught me more how not to teach than anything else.
By the time I graduated, it was a done deal, mentally I had practically already done half the living overseas I wanted to do…I was as good as there. Did I come from a rich home? Hardly, I was not sitting on a trust fund, nor was anyone there to bail me out when I couldn’t pay car insurance or rent. From there I was offered a job in South America and one in Russia. Because of the human rights issues where I was going in SA I chose Russia. And just resisting the temptation to give up when everything and more went wrong there, when it was below 0 for 6 months with snow on the ground, spoke no Russian (but learned quickly), had no real work to do and huge amounts of time on my hands but no friends nor easy means to communicate with home…I thought “ok here I am and boy does this suck!”
But I stayed & worked for 2 years, I have a few friends from that time and lots of memories. And what’s more, I left my loser suitcase there. I realized at least one part of my goals.
From there, I traveled plenty more. When I was done, I felt satisfied. I moved on to the next goal. But I will still travel…
And that is where I am today. I have for me conspicuously left God out of all of this, but he was there the whole time…making my car run a little bit more on an empty tank, giving me endurance and a sense that I could do and excel at every little thing that I was told I couldn’t do. Giving me the whole time what it took to push through every little step. He is particularly responsible for Adeline and Jeff. But those are other stories on other days.
The only reason I spend all this time committing this to blog is because I don’t think I am special for this stuff, I think every person needs to go through this. I think every person in their life at some point is told they can’t do what they know they can, I think every person in either big ways or little ways settles for something less because they don’t know how to get what they really want…for fear. Whether it’s a girl, a house, an award, a degree, a profession…The thing is, what is there to be afraid of? From where I am sitting right now, the only thing to be afraid of is that I will have gone through life too afraid to go after what I knew I could or should or wanted to do.