Eyes on the prize

After church this morning, a lady who I’ve known since forever (her daughter was one of my close childhood friends) came up to me and said that she felt she had to tell me something.

She and her husband had been praying for Husby and I, and mid-prayer, her husband had said something he later didn’t recall having said. She felt this was significant and wanted to tell me. It went like this:

Start your journey thinking about where you want to end up

 Seems obvious?

This sentence still managed to get me in a total quandary for the rest of the day. You see, between you and me, I’ve never known where I want to end up.

The closest I ever got was in a home group session where we had to write or draw what we wanted our future to look like. This is what I ended up with:

This is based on something which touched me very deeply as a teenager, back when I was self-conscious enough to think that how I looked actually mattered to anyone (I’m under no illusions now) and I saw, walking quite unabashedly down the street, the an ugly, sweet little old man and an ugly, sweet little old woman, holding hands. It was the holding hands that got me. Those two (I imagined) had weathered life together in all its glorious ups and downs, and they were still holding hands. At that moment, I knew that was what I wanted.

And yet, and yet…

…it’s simply not enough to want to be about eight-hundred years old and still be holding hands with your husband. There has to be more to life than that, otherwise I could sit right here in this chair and wait to age.

So like all kids do when they don’t know the answer, I asked my Mum (and also, variously my Sister and my Aunty, and Neff chipped in a bit, too)

Me:YOU know me – what do I want out of life? I mean, ultimately, what do you think I want to achieve?

Mum: Contentment with your life and with your self, and growing closer to God.

 I can understand that. Makes perfect sense. Don’t make anything a goal which is beyond your right or ability to control. But surely as I age and change, my ‘self’ will be different, so contentment will constantly be in flux. And as for growing closer to God, I don’t think anyone’s yet had a ‘Eureka!’ moment where they can say “That’s it, I’m the closest to God I, or anyone, has ever been or will be, so I’m done now”. I just don’t think that’s the way it happens. It’s all about the journey.

Sister: You want to pass on your knowledge and love to children and give them good memories. [and upon hearing Mum’s reply] That too.

I do indeed want to pass on my love and knowledge to children and give them good memories, but that’s not all I want to do – there’s more to it than that. And whose children, anyway? 

Aunty: *grinning* You want to do something which you actually use all of your brain to do and work hard at.

Yes, but what!

Neff: You want a really big house

Nice as an incidental if it happens, kiddo, but it’s not the goal.


Thanks, family, for making a confusing question even more complex.

Time for some blue-sky thinking to see if we can’t pin something down and get a pattern out of this craptangle!

Things I’d like to do when I grow up

Be ‘little olds’ with Husby – pretty much covered that already, though, didn’t I.

Have my own, beautiful showman’s engine and take it round the steam rally circuit in summer, towing my ‘Lady and the Champ’ champ van. It’d be OSSUM! (Champ, for those not in the know, is an Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, scallions (spring onions) and cream. I’d serve it at £3 a bowl for plain and £4 a bowl for fancy and still undercut those pricey burger vans and hog roasts and provide a healthy(ish) alternative! Win.) Thing is, those traction engines cost upwards of £40,000 (which I don’t have) and I don’t know how to drive one, nor know anyone to teach me, nor do I have a catering van or the contacts to get into the steam rally circuit. Arse.

Have a family. When I suggested this, Neff piped in “But you’ve got me!” followed by Niece’s “And me!”, which was very sweet and very true, but I would like kids of my own one day, whether natural or adopted. Course, that all takes money, too. So I’d need a job-type-thing. So would Husby, and with him being ill and all…it’s a work in (slow) progress.

Learn Polish, because it’s a beautiful language to listen to. Or Hungarian, which is also very pretty, but Polish is realistically more useful. Cos the nickname of my home suburb is Little Poland. But, seriously, I’ve done French, German and a little of each of Japanese and Spanish, but it would be nice for once to learn a language properly, you know, to a point where I’m fluent and can hold a conversation with a native speaker which goes beyond ‘How are you?’ and ‘Where is the train station?’ But again, lessons cost money, so we’re back to that job thing.

Be an author. But as I answered myself when I suggested this; what would I auth? I’ve written several children’s stories and done nowt with them. I don’t have the brains (or specific knowledge) to write a crime/horror/thriller novel, nor the application, and I certainly don’t excel sufficiently in any field to write a factual book. This blog is the closest I’m going to get to authoring anything, unless I can convince anyone to publish something with the title ‘How to be incredibly middlingish’

Set up a kids magazine about fish, which is for girls and boys, encompasses practical know-how, information, education and conservation. The thing is, there’s not money in the industry to start something like this (probably) and I’ve discovered a distinct mental block when it comes to business plans, so I don’t know how I’d get it off the ground. I also probably haven’t the application to be an editor, so would need to sell the idea to someone so they could continue it. Good luck with that, self!

 Be an artist. I know anyone can be – did you ever go to an art gallery and look at some piece of absolute weirdness on the wall and think ‘I could do better’? I think that secretly, what makes a good successful artist as much as anything is great PR. The price tags on some pieces are utterly ridiculous, yet the most I’ve managed to get for one of mine is reimbursement of materials.

Pipe dream, thou art a fickle friend

Get a degree. But what in? I know this is only one of those things I want because I’m a not-so-secret intellectual snob, and I’d like to feel good about myself. I do know, though, that having a degree to my name won’t make me a better person or (in all probability) feel any better about myself, because once I had it, I’d want a PhD… I do like the idea of writing a dissertation though. Kinda like a novel but with more references, right?
Have beautiful kitchen chairs all different from each other and all painted different colours/patterns. Very beautiful, I’m sure, and would probably give me a great photo-op to be in Homes and Gardens if I was rich enough to have them in opulent surroundings. I doubt they’d look half as good in a 2 bed flat, but might save me some money (if not time) when furnishing my dining area. I’m so looking forward to having a dining area. I don’t think this can really count as a life goal though, it seems so superficial!

Homeschool my kids. We’re straight back to money, aren’t we *sigh*
Go to Woods Hole and do something awesome and science-y.  Now we’re back to needing a degree, a brain, application and above all (say it with me) money.

Be a politician. But not for any of the parties which exist currently, because whilst I agree with bits of lots of them, there’s lots of bits of them I completely can’t stand. I also don’t really think my brain could come up with all the solutions to everything which I’d need to do to stand a chance of getting anywhere as an independent candidate. So I’d have to join a party, which would mean appearing to go along with things I fundamentally disagree with. Nerts to that!
Don’t you love when you put a craptangle into the old thinkbox, give it a shake and out falls an even bigger craptangle? I’m sure there’s a plan for my life somewhere, I’m just not sure I know it. I guess so far I’ve been looking at the map back-to-front and upside down with my eyes closed. Does anyone ever know what they want to do? I’ve heard of a few people who have, who’ve worked bloody hard and made big sacrifices to get there, and when they get there it’s a pinnacle they treasure and enjoy for as long as possible, then spend the rest of their life looking back fondly upon. Perhaps if any of them read this, they might do me the kindness of letting me know how they ever knew.
Don’t forget – last chance to vote on SETI’s poll of names for Pluto’s moons – I still want you to pick ‘Vulcan’, if you’d be so kind.
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12 thoughts on “Eyes on the prize

  1. Montessori's fascinating! I never got into it myself, but taught pre-school age for many years.

    I think my Husby's turning out to be the fretting type – he wants the perfect job but doesn't know what and stress is definitely becoming a factor!

    I guess everyone muddles through life in their own, different ways. Maybe it's not meant to be a 'one size fits all' with the goals thing.

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  2. Lucky you being married to a goal setter! I seem to have that role (in as loose a term as possible) and as you see, I'm making very little headway.

    I suspect I'll always be something of a jack of all trades and master of none, but no, I don't want to limit myself 🙂 I'll bear that in mind. It would be good to do something well for once though…

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  3. I agree…I sorta have goals all related to teaching. First it was music…then elementary…not it's getting certified in Montessori.

    My husband has goals (however frustrating they turn out). He frets about it a lot. So I don't see having a particular goal as being necessarily a good thing especially if it stresses you out trying to make something concrete (or in his case getting the perfect job).

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  4. I am 41 years old and have already “been” so many things. Cake decorator, photographer, and teacher being my favorites. I just go with the flow and do whatever comes my way. I don't have the desire to imagine an end-goal, let alone the plan to get there. Plus, I like the spontinaity of it all. Fortunately, I married someone who has been a goal-setter his entire life. He makes plans and I go along for the ride.
    Who says you have to limit your “what do I want to do/be?” to one or two things?

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  5. This was such an interesting list – thanks for sharing it. I especially liked your comments on each one. It made me realize I don't know where I want to end up either. Something to ponder.

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