Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rising Up

"The greatest waste
in the world is the
difference between
what we are and
what we could become."
~ Ben Herbster

This post, if I'm honest, feels incomplete even as I begin it. Because it sort of is. I'm not sure all of what I want to say or how I want to say it. I fear it will all come out wrong or that it will reveal too much or, well, who knows. It is deeply personal. It reveals my naivete, my-head-in-the-clouds, my weakness. So I want to be clear.

I’ve been thinking lately about potential. About our ability to rise up to that which is within us, but, more often, our tendency to fritter it away with notions that we cannot achieve much. I’m thinking about this for many reasons: the insanely good writer/student I have who, sadly, prefers the football field and friends to honing his talent on the page, for one. I sat him down today and talked to him about it. I thought he should know just how good he could be at this. But he has to want it; he has to do it.

And I think that is the part that is difficult. Reach your potential--this trite little phrase repeated often. But that whole reaching bit means engaging and working and striving and acting and believing. And that alone can be daunting. Life can delay and distract us from what we ultimately want. And then that whole believing bit comes into play. And...

And here is the truth of things: I am good at a few things and know it. And because of that knowledge, I apply myself to a point. I try to excel (in varying degrees of the word try). Everything else feels as though it were a possibility. And potential or no, it feels like too much.

But perhaps I am being too vague?

I am. I know.

So let me try and begin again. I feel as though I have the potential to be a really good teacher or a really good writer or a really good fill-in-the-blank, but I sometimes fall short. For whatever reason. And it is frustrating and sad to me that I want so very many things for myself that the desires seem to cancel each other out.

My biggest fear is living a life of mediocrity--survival in place of purpose and intent. Laziness or insecurity in place of confidence and dedication.

Fear it though I might, sometimes I drift into the mediocre. I get glimpses of that potential and wonder why I'm not always there, performing at that level in my own life. I wonder when it is that I will ease into the intended shape of myself, as bread rising up.

Image found here.


Stephanie said...

I think as long as you can still recognize when you drift into mediocrity (as we all do; it's the nature of humans), you will be fine.

I also want to tell you that you are brilliant and wonderful. I'm grateful to know you.

Shannon said...

Bulls Eye! This post is exactly how I feel (more of that kindred spirit evidencing itself, apparently). Well said, my friend.

p.s. I'm curious to know how you're liking "Cold Mountain"....

Miss Melissa Bee said...

First, I LOVE the picture! Second, this is beautifully written and expresses so clearly what so many of us feel. I too am afraid of fading into nothing, of becoming nothing, of doing nothing, of not making a significant mark with my "one wild and precious life." I think Steph is right...all we can do is try. We can realize we are slipping, we can try to do better, we can reach for our potential as often as we are able, even if we are not always able.

You are absolutely amazing! Someday I will rival you as a writer and as a teacher as you are brilliant at both! xoxo

Lildonbro said...

I love this post, it expressed how I feel A LOT of the time!

It's true, you can have this natural talent but you have to WANT it in order to become better at it, you have to work on it and so many times we just want things to come easily, but anything worthwhile will not come easily.

Libby said...

I come from a family chock-full of talented siblings who are too scared/lazy to do anything about it. They make excuses for hiding their talents and it drives me nuts.

Of course, I'm scared and lazy too. I say that I'm too stressed/busy/covered in baby barf/etc. to pursue my dreams right now. However, plenty of other people manage to do it while having much more on their plate than I do.


Rie Pie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rie Pie said...

It’s extremely frustrating that we don’t live to our potential. Even though you might not be where you wish you were – you are amazing. I don’t think you could truly understand how great you are. Talented. Faithful. Writer. Friend. Role model. Teacher.

Jen said...

LOOVE this post. I feel the same way so often. I get lost in the diapers, crayons, or even just reading a bazillion good novels, and then feel unsatisfied that I haven't written the great American Novel or quilted the great American Quilt by age 30. Love ya. You are such an awesome blogger.