Of Race Horses and Apple Carts

Whatever your plans were, your life has gone elsewhere and will continue to do so; best get used to that and accept it. The delightful twists and horrifying perversions of our best laid plans is what makes the ride interesting and keeps our days here on Earth challenging…otherwise, we’d all be pretty bored. But whether your dreams are broken and lying in ruins around your feet or you’ve kicked some serious butt and are enjoying the accolades from atop your glistening mountain of accomplishment, life is what you make of it. And what you make of it is the best indicator of how you’re wired. To quote a Yes lyric, “You’re every move you make.” In short, what you make of your life is the measure of you. Whatever side of the tracks you were born on, whatever your parents were like (present or not), whether you were born into struggle or advantage, your life is yours and yours alone to screw up or turn into a shining example of How It’s Done. Don’t look for pity, there are no excuses, everyone gets hurt, everyone has a bad story to tell, everyone fails and everyone falls. And not everyone gets back up.

We are surrounded by people of no extraordinary gifts who do very well, simply because they don’t fail in some key areas, to wit: they don’t fail to believe in possibility; they don’t fail to believe in themselves, and they present themselves to the world with that air; they don’t fail to seize opportunities or to utilize their resources and they didn’t get discouraged by things like their parents telling them that they couldn’t.

Also among us are people with extraordinary intelligence, talents, gifts and qualifications who, through failures in any or all of these areas, are spending their only life here on Earth as million-dollar racehorses pulling apple carts. Whether they were brought up to be a little too sweet and humble, or listened when their parents told them discouraging things, or allowed some discouraging events in life to dampen their flame, or just aren’t driven and allow themselves to get comfortable…or maybe they’re simply sort of bohemian and satisfied with very little…this piece is for life’s over-qualified and under-harnessed people. They are everywhere.

Speaking for myself…for whatever my too-close-to-the-trees perspective is worth…I don’t feel especially gifted. I feel competent, thanks to having blundered into a great musical education at Grove, but that’s about it. And it’s true that more and more, simply being competent these days vaults one into the elite ranks on high, wreathed in laurel with the others of august greatness up in the firmament, having churches frescoed in one’s honor…but that’s fodder for a different cannon. The bottom line is that whatever my skills, actual or perceived, the simple truth is that thus far I have failed gloriously to live up to my potential.

Why is that, I often wonder? And what’ll it take to make me shake the ground when I walk? It’s not like I have another life; I don’t believe in that. This is my only existence, as fleeting as it is.

Well…for one thing, I listened to my parents. They were wonderful parents, so why wouldn’t I? And yes, they did say discouraging things, not out of of spite, so my defenses were down. So there’s that. And my Dad was the greatest man I’ll ever know, yet was very humble. For that reason, I’ve always felt absurd in trying to promote my services…Dad would scowl at such behavior and call it “tooting your own horn”. Such reticence to promote myself ain’t good, not in this industry. I’ve only recently wised up to the point of hiring that stuff out. And I do believe in possibility (despite experiences in the music industry; arguably one of the world’s most discouraging) and I believe in my skills, such as they are, but I definitely fail to seize—or at least to create—opportunity, and to utilize my resources. In other words, I fail to fully engage with the world around me and develop new liaisons, projects and clients. And I grew up in a culture that venerates bucking the system and vilifies all the consumerism fizz; values I staunchly advocate to this day and, consequently, I’m fairly bohemian, satisfied with just getting by. Being a pretty lousy financial planner, if the bills are paid, I’m happy.

What I need to bear in mind is that my competition is more driven, regardless of relative level of professional competence.

Does any of this resonate with you?