Recently, I watched Law and Order..., on cable, complete with commercials. I was pretty smug that I recognized none of them, nor did they interest me much. One, however, did catch some corner of my attention. It was for cars or tires, methinks, and was a representation of a city as a Labrynth, with cars representing the marbles. The commercial, itself, didn't interest me - what did was the memories I have of playing that game. It was one of those games I was supposed to be careful with - I think it belonged to my step-father.
When I was younger, I wanted to win at everything. I didn't, but I sure wanted to. I think I was a pretty obnoxious kid. I remember a girl in Junior High using that exact term. I spent a week asking random people I encountered if I was obnoxious. Most said I was. As an obnoxious, clever, kid who was determined to win, I learned to cheat. I was the master of the "half-assed" paper that would get me the minimum mark I needed to make my parents happy. I was disorganized, sloppy, and a real smartypants. When I was younger, I could pull an honours grade out of a failing start. I was smart and I was good at hedging my bets so that I could go full out on the few projects that interested me and slack through the other ones and come out somewhere in the middle.
I was pretty smug about it. And because I pushed myself so rarely, I began to think that that was just what life was like. That I could do pretty much anything, that I could be anything. The attitude of the time was certainly on my side. Any of us could do anything - we would all be rich and successful and happy. I didn't care so much for work, though, so I shrugged and figured that would sort itself out.
I was not athletic, but we had a provincial park near my house, growing up, that I adored exploring. More often than not, my explorations were on my own - though most of my favourites were with company. Bugs didn't bother me, nor did getting dirty. As I grew older I would go to the park to find a place where I could hide out and eat/smoke/drink. Generally, I did those things on my own, too. But my fondest memories are, again, of the times when I wasn't alone.
I have beat myself up for years for not fitting in. The situations vary, but the general feeling I am left with is that I should have done a better job of fitting in. But fitting in isn't what I want. I could - there is a giant group of "regular North Americans" I could easily join by staying exactly where I am. I have always prided myself on being a little ahead of the curve. I like to "win", but what I really like is to keep pushing the envelope, I used to see how much I could get away with, now I see how much I could do. Now I just need to accept that there is only so much I can do and do it.
It's like that game, Labrynth, I am rolling along, trying not to fall into the traps of modern life. If you've played the game, you know that if you stop moving, you will most likely lose. Flow and Balance.
I want to say something to all of you who take time to read this blog, and especially those people who gave me feedback. Thank-you. I have been reminded of how very blessed I am and of the deals I've made with myself, primarily the one where I don't beat myself up. For the past two days, I have been making mistakes with purposeful abandon. That is to say, I am allowing myself to jump and fall and pick myself up. I dust myself off a tensy bit richer for the experience. I haven't actually fallen much, or at least, I have not fallen too badly (except in conversation, I have been a bit clumsy with my thoughts and words). I feel a little taller, a little stronger, and convinced that if I put in the leg-work, my life will be a-ok. Regardless of how it turns out.