Thursday, February 10, 2005

The B+ Life

I was taken aback when I turned thirty and only had a husband, three daughters, and a few close friends to show for it. Don't get me wrong - I love my family and friends. They make me feel like I have worth, and that is more than most can say. In fact, I know that I am downright blessed to have each in my life - it's much more than I deserve, really. I have no regrets. But putting family and friends aside, I simply thought that I would have accomplished more in three decades.

The weight of this reality became terribly apparent when I read an newspaper interview with a fourteen-year-old from Portland who had just celebrated her second week being number one on the best sellers list. "Yikes," I thought, "what am I doing with my life?!" In the interview, she talked about how she wrote this novel with ease; it was mostly autobiographical after all. What floored me - what literally took my breath away, however, was a comment the young novelist made as a mere afterthought. She said that she wanted to do something with her life because she didn't want to get to the old age of thirty and realize that all she had been was basically a B+ student.

At that moment I knew that comment perfectly described my life. It's a good life - a really, really good life. Better than average. But it still only scores a B+. That's a hard truth to swallow.

What's even more difficult to choke down is the fact that my life is exactly what I've made it.

First, there was the music album I never recorded. I love music, and I love to sing. I've been performing one way or another since I was about ten. My only vocal training came in the form of voice lessons when I went to college. Even so, I thought I could belt out a tune before I had that training.

Come to find out that I am an above average singer, but I'm not spectacular. Once a person looses the ability to wear sexy belly button showing half shirts and low rise jeans, it takes "spectacular" to get that album recorded. The older I get, the more I realize that there are a ton of above average singers out there too. And after I laid down some back ground vocal tracks for my husband, I discovered recording vocals is very hard work. Very, very hard work.

The truth is, recording an album isn't as important to me as it used to be. So I've basically abandoned that dream with little to no regrets - but watching a long held dream swirl around and finally flush down into oblivion was still difficult.

Then there was the soccer career I never had. When I graduated from high school, I seriously planned on joining the men's soccer team at my college since there was no women's soccer team. Crazy, but true. Of course when the team got wind of it, well...let's just say the idea wasn't embraced as I had hoped it would be. Granted - this was a small private school in the mid-west, and their ideas of a "woman's place" were a little archaic to say the least. Nevertheless, I decided to join the cheerleading squad instead - which makes me laugh out loud to look back on those cheerleading days. What kind of athlete gives up the sport to shout from the sidelines? An athlete who is above average but not spectacular does.

I did get a chance to play on some recreational co-ed teams years later - those are some fun memories. I coached for several years too. But now that I see the leagues for major league women's teams disband, I realize that my chance to be a competitive player is over. It's just as well since having four children has taken it's toll on me physically. I'm not as fast or agile as I used to be.

Finally, my dreams of being a famous writer never came to fruition. Sure - tons of writers say to themselves, "Some day I will write the next great American novel." The difference is that I seriously thought I would. I thought I would be well into my writing career by age thirty.

Way back when, I remember how I first voiced that dream. I told my college writing teacher, " I want to write a novel some day," and he didn't respond to that comment. I should have taken a hint then; what he was silently saying was that I was only a good writer. Not spectacular, not great, not talented, not creative, but good. The more I've studied great writers, the more I've realized my deficiencies as a writer as well. Also, great writers get published. Good writers pay to get their work published. I don't have that kind of money to waste.

I'm not quite ready to give that dream up yet, however. Honestly, when the time comes for me to accept the fact that I won't be the famous writer I always dreamed I would be, that truth will die hard. I just don't think that my ego could take that blow right now. Also, I'm living on the hope that I might be the next Toni Morrison since she published her first novel at age thirty-eight. So I'm saying there's a chance...

I could make excuses for why I chose the path I took. I could say that schooling and earning money and having a family got in the way of my career, my dreams. But all of those things make up the "me" I am today, so, again, I have no regrets.

Which brings me to my point: I've finally decided to embrace "what is" instead of lament all that wasn't. I own up to the fact that I keep a lot of plates spinning, and it's inevitable that one or two or five will drop eventually. But that doesn't mean all fifty-seven plates need to fall and shatter at my feet. Not all at once, anyway.

I admit that my house is a little disorganized - that's a nice way of saying that it's messy. I admit that my children sometimes run amok. But they are happy. I may never be able to wear a two-piece bathing suit again without being offensive. So what. So what if I have a B+ life. One thing is for certain is this: I have the best damn B+ life of anyone I know. And really, that is spectacular defined.


Ch@ndy said...

I happen to think that 30 is young. Barely an adult. So this freaky 14 year old wrote a novel. That's weird. (I am laughing really hard right now.) The kid can't even drive. What sort of novel does a 14 year old write??? Can it be anything more than a novelty?? That kid should be on Ripley's. I bet that kid sucks at singing.

Now I sound like I am 14.

bluesugarpoet said...

Yeah, let's hold her down and spit in her face!

Actually, even though I'll be 35 this year, in my mind I'm still 20. Until I look at all the body parts that droop that shouldn't, that is.

Ch@ndy said...

I just read an awesome book...the author is Judy Blunt....Breaking Clean. Well worth the read.

Ch@ndy said...

Uh, I mention this because the author got a late start on her writing but you see that it is because she was very busy living.