My brother and I grew up in the same somewhat-chaotic household. From an early age, he was extremely bright. I remember him reading books like “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, “Das Capital”, and various science fiction works before he left elementary school. I, on the other hand, was…an underachiever. I remember my guidance counselor giving my father a book called “Bright Child, Poor Grades”, in a effort to help me get in gear.
In seventh grade, a confluence of events changed my life. First, I went to a tough junior high school in which it was in your best interests to keep a low profile. You would likely be beaten up if you stuck your neck out. Second, my mother died and that increased my sense that the world was a tenuous place and you’d better keep your nose clean. Finally, I was in homeroom after the second grading period when my friend leaned over and said, “Look, you made Honor Roll!” “What?” “Honor Roll! You see the ‘H.R.’? That’s what it means!”
And so my life changed. In a short time, I learned that perhaps you could receive good attention for doing the right thing. Also, I learned something about the age-old debate between nature and nurture: you cannot change what nature gave you, but you can nurture those parts in you that you want to develop. And so I did.
Our lives are on a trajectory. The direction is more important than the speed. Sometimes you need to alter that direction. There is a balance between second-guessing yourself every minute, which isn’t helpful, and being aware of this very minute. This balance isn’t easy but it is always worth it.
In the past five weeks, I have been going to barre class . If I am inattentive for even a couple of seconds, my form falls apart or I miss some important instruction. So I look for my friend to see what I should be doing.
And it’s now December and the year has passed by in a blur of adventures, tests taken and tests passed, and smiles. I will not gain back these past 365 days but I will not regret even one of them.
To sum up:
1. Like the pilot of a bobsled descending the hill at 80 MPH, we need to always be making adjustments if we want to make the best of our ride.
2. We need to pay attention, but if we lose our way, we can look to our friends for help.
3. Time will pass whether or not we use it wisely, but if we make the most of it, we can look back and smile.
Eleanor Powell said, “What we are is God’s gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.” For us, what we make of what we’ve been given determines the tenor of our lives.