The title begs the question, doesn’t it? What am I in and what will I win?
After my soul-searching post from a couple of days ago in which I wondered aloud (in writing, at least) whether life has passed me by, a post about winning seems appropriate.
No, this is not like Charlie Sheen’s drug-fueled “winning-g-g-g-g” weirdness. But in some ways I do feel that I’m already winning.
If I followed the advice of a friend’s mother — Take what you’ve got and be glad you’ve got it — I would be content to rest on my laurels, such as they are.But as I once wrote in a now-defunct blog, that’s probably some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard. That’s a recipe for staying stuck. That’s reaching some point in your life where you declare you have no need to continue to grow, to continue to learn, to continue to strive for better. By “better,” I mean meaningfully better. Not a better car or a better house or a better wardrobe. I mean a better life.
But I think I know what this woman meant with her advice. She meant that we need to be grateful for what we have. It’s so easy to be negative. It’s so easy to focus on what’s missing instead of what’s there. I saw a quote somewhere that said “To mourn what you lack is to waste what you have.” If I knew the attribution, I would include it. (If anyone reading this knows who said that, please let me know.)
So, I think that’s what she meant. Too many of us look outside of ourselves for happiness. We rely on things to make us happy. Or we look to someone else to make us happy. And if the person we’re with isn’t making us happy, we think that finding a different person will make us happy.
I think that’s what she meant. And even if she didn’t, that’s how I choose to interpret it. I have no intention of sitting still or, as my dad did, parking myself in a chair and watching the world go by. I believe that’s how you get old. I still have hopes and dreams and goals and ambitions.I had a dream of earning a college degree. I did that. I earned an Associate in Arts degree from our local community college. Then I enrolled at Old Dominion University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. Then I earned a Master of Arts degree. And I did all of that in my 40s. While running a business and homeschooling my son. (My mother once remarked to a mutual friend, in front of me at a party, that I “have more hours in the day than the rest of us.” I don’t know exactly what she meant by that, but it didn’t feel supportive, and obviously it’s not true. I just chose to use the hours in my day in a constructive and productive way to move my life forward.)
The day I passed my oral exam for my Master’s degree was truly one of the happiest days of my life. Leaving the building on campus that day, making my way to my car, I felt like I was walking 12 inches off the ground. I want to feel that way again.
Granted, that was a discrete moment in time representing the end of a long journey. I may never experience that feeling again. But it’s certain that I won’t experience it again if I park myself in a chair and watch the world go by.
So, though I have much, and yes, I’m glad I’ve got it, I do want more. But the “more” that I want doesn’t come in the form of things that I can buy or a person who is going to somehow bestow happiness on me. It comes in the form of working hard, always learning, setting goals and moving confidently to achieve milestones along the way.
And yes, I am in it to win it.