Friday, January 02, 2015

the size of my life

When I was little, I was always told I would do big things. My teachers would predict a great future. Maybe I would be a writer. Or president. Or famous. It was undefined, but HUGE. Because I was smart. I was a really good student even though I didn't study, and I didn't work hard. I just had a terrific memory, and a quick mind.

I did almost as well in junior high. My teachers no longer predicted the future in such glowing terms, because by then I had also become a pain. I was a smart-ass, and I was clearly coasting through my classes doing the bare minimum necessary to stay on the honor roll. Not a teacher's dream. It didn't matter -- I had been so indoctrinated by other people's visions of my future that I didn't really give it much thought. I was going to be a huge success some day. Details were irrelevant.

I got to high school, where I thought I had life figured out. I was cynical, a bigger smart-ass than before, and was always playing the angles. I could work really hard and get an 'A' , or I could do almost nothing and get a 'B'. I would take the 'B' and laugh at the suckers who worked so hard for so little return. I was going to be rich someday, and hire grinds to work for me. Or so I thought.

Made it to college, although not the Ivy League that I somehow thought was in my future. My worldview took some serious hits, pretty quickly. There were people at school who where smarter than me. And there were tons of people who worked harder than I did. And I began to realize that my future was not so rosy. I still expected that someday I would work my way into fame and fortune; maybe I would write a best-seller, or work my way into the C-suite. But I began to realize that I might have to put in some work to make that happen.

I worked hard over the years. I went back to school. Got bigger, better jobs. Added credentials.  We moved, and moved again. Moving up, I thought. At some point, though, I began to understand what worked for me. What made me truly happy. And doing "big things" wasn't part of it.

Now what I want most of all, is life on a small scale. I want to sit in the sunshine with a good book. I want to walk by the water holding my husband's hand. I want to have dinner with my kiddo and hear how his week was, or what great movie he saw today. I want to hang out with friends and drink a few beers. I want to take a nap on a Sunday with a purring cat by my feet. A hot cup of tea on a cool morning. Blueberry pancakes on Saturday. A new song on the radio that makes me sing along.

I'm not dissing ambition. The world needs the people who do big things. I just don't need to be one of them.

My life is finally just the right size for me.

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