“Mother, what can I be when I grow up?”
“Oh, my little child, you can be anything you want; you can be anyone you choose. If you dream it, and believe it, you can achieve it. The world is your oyster, my child, but you must remember, never, never, never give up.”
It’s a lovely concept. I’d love to tell my children that they can do whatever they put their mind to and become whatever they want, as long as they work hard and persevere.
But I don’t believe it.
There is a reality called the Laws of Nature and they can get in the way of our dreams. Many of these laws are annoying (Michigan weather) and many, to put it bluntly, suck (death). It’s one of the supreme ironies of the universe that humans naturally rebel against the Laws of Nature. Most of the time we lose, although we pat ourselves on the back for something that looks like a small victory, but is, in reality, just a cheat. My extremely white teeth that seem to be unaffected by copious amounts of coffee and an occasional glass of red wine, are a perfect example.
Sorry if I’m raining on your parade, but it pays to be pragmatic about important things, such as life.
For the sake of illustration, let’s say I decide that I want to be a supermodel. I commit my entire life to becoming a supermodel: I study, practice, correct my posture, learn to live on cigarettes and diet pop. Even if I was younger and did all those things diligently, I could never be a supermodel. There’s no way for me to break the natural law of being only 5 feet tall. (My mother would say I’m 4 feet 11 ¾ inches, because that would make her ¼ inch taller than I. She’s wrong.)
Another sad but true strike against me is the fact that I’m not photogenic. I have a wonderfully patient friend who is an amateur photographer. She spent two hours taking pictures of me recently, because I wanted a decent, professional photo to use on my Facebook page and blog. She must have said at least fifty times, “You look like you’re smelling something that stinks. Try to look like you smell something good.” It was a painful two hours (It might have been three. I’ve tried to block out the memory.)
I could sit in front of a mirror for hours and practice just getting a decent smile down, forget the sexy pout, or far-away-come-hither look. My smile for the camera might improve, but not enough to use my photo in a Dollar Saver advertisement, much less on a Vogue cover.
Don’t believe that the Law of Nature can keep a person from their dream? Just watch one episode of American Idol during the audition phase. Remember William Hung? Enough said.
There is hope though, because the Laws of Nature bestow gifts, as well as curses. Each of us has gifts that we can use and hone and perfect. It’s just a matter of discerning and focusing on those gifts.
Partying is one of my natural talents. I can throw a heck of a party. I used to think it was a silly, frivolous gift and I felt guilty wasting time and money on it. But I enjoyed it, so I ignored the guilt and continued to hone my party skills (often). I began to notice some of the good that came from this gift. People looked forward to our parties and they enjoyed themselves. They were taking time out of their busy stressful schedules to have fun and relax, and they were connecting with friends they hadn’t seen in a while. And friends from different areas of our lives were meeting each other and making new friends.
My singing voice on the other hand, is something no amount of dreaming or practicing will ever improve. That’s ok. I’ll forgo singing and focus my energy on hospitality, to the infinite relief of my children. And I’ll tell my children that if they focus on their gifts, they can do whatever they put their mind to and become whatever they want, as long as they work hard and persevere.