Friday, August 29, 2014

What fills your bucket?

So, I turned 39 this week. There, I said it. We will have a moment of silence as I reflect on the fact that I will shortly be leaving my 30's (aka: the best decade of my life thus far).___________________________________________________________________
Now let us move on.

Can we just talk about this for a minute:

 I guess if getting older has taught me one thing it is this: to work to reach my own potential, not the potential I wish I had. 

I am mediocre at a lot of things. I am not trying to be humble when I say that. It is instead simply the truth. I have tried many, many things in my 39 years. Sometimes I am good at them, mostly I am just okay. I got good grades in school but was not valedictorian by any means. I sang in my high school concert choir, but was never considered worthy of a solo. I have written a couple of novels. One even reached the top 50 best-seller list for its genre on Amazon. But I know I will never write a New York Times Best Seller. Again, not trying out a false humility. I am just being honest here. And I am fine with all of that.

I run. I like to run. I enjoy the community of runners. I do not run fast, or all that far for that matter. I will likely never qualify for Boston or run an ultra marathon. Nor do I really care to. I do not win races or earn sponsors. I do, however, try. And for my efforts sometimes I am met with a reward of some sort, a PR, a runner's high,  eating lots of bread without any hint of guilt. And I am satisfied with that. Sure, there are times when I wish I could run sub 7 minute miles--heck, I'd like to regularly run sub 8 minute miles. But that is not the point of running. That is not why I do what I do. I do what I do to strive for my own potential. To fill my bucket of joy. And if I'm constantly measuring that against what fills someone else's bucket I will never find happiness. There comes a time when we have to be satisfied with what is in our bucket and stop wishing for more.

I have a dear, sweet friend who has dieted and obsessed over every morsel of food she eats for the last 20 years. Once when I asked her why she replied that she didn't want to end of up looking like her mother (who looks just fine in my opinion). I was saddened. She has been sacrificing joy out of fear of comparison. (Not that food is joy, but I really do see a desperation in her that has to hamper her ability to fill her bucket with joy.) I wish I could express to her the need to celebrate her healthy body today instead of living in a future that hasn't happened yet. I figure the only guarantee I have is today. I'd better like what I have, who I am, what I'm doing today or else I have nothing--an empty bucket.

It's hard not to be competitive in this world we live in. With social media--media in general--it is nearly impossible not to compare every aspect of our lives with what we see from others'. But the truth is, as cliche as it sounds, comparison really is the thief of joy. Most of what we see is illusion anyway. What I'd like to know is how would our lives change if in order to pick up one admirable trait from another person we had to pick up every other trait as well? By that I mean what if in order to have the six-pack abs of that swim-suit model, we had to go through the years of adolescent torment she endured for being seven inches taller than everybody in her 8th grade class. What if in order to have the generous nature of our neighbor, we had to go through twenty years of financial hardship she suffered when her husband lost his job and walked out on the family? What if in order to run as fast as that first-place finisher, we had to grow up in the same abusive house she did, spending our nights running in order to escape a volatile home? Do not wish for what you do not have.

My point is this: We each have been endowed with our own gifts that have been sifted through our own experience and refined by the work we have done to improve them. They are unique to just us--only us. There is no use in comparing any aspect of our lives with those of others'. The only potential we can reach is our own. And there is no such thing as perfection, just progress.

The end.

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