Lately, I’ve been struggling with what will become of me when I grow up. I’m 32, I don’t own anything that really is mine other than a windowsill of succulents and a very soft blankets that gives me more comfort than I care to admit, I don’t live with my husband which, believe it or not, in times of quarantine is really really really annoying, and I have to figure out my next move (literally) sooner than I can wrap my head around. I’m beginning to think that I may eventually have to get myself one of these careers that everyone seems to be talking about…
When I was younger, my dad would drive me around in Vienna and mid-conversation he would point at random buildings of all sizes and shapes and colors and he would say, “that was a project of mine”. He is an electrical engineer, he is responsible for people having lights, sockets, generators, and anything else electrical available to them. And while many people eventually inhabit his projects few of these people would know his name… Somehow, that really bothered me. Here was this fantastic, detail-oriented person, pouring his heart and soul into these projects, making sure that safety mechanisms were in place throughout the building, for if, god forbid, there ever was a need for it. His thoughtfulness could save lives and yet, the person that would rely on these mechanisms would never know his name.
I see all of these great accomplishments my dad has achieved… If you never know his name, you could still see my dad all over the city. Sometimes I worry that I won’t ever make a mark in history like that, that all my endeavors are fruitless, that I’m forgotten before I could have done anything memorable. That I won’t ever be able to point at anything and say, “that was a project of mine”.
If I were prone to depression or anxiety – that would really get to me. But then I remember that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to know my name, you don’t need to know my face, you don’t need to know that oceans keep me up at night, filling me with happiness. You don’t need to know that I can’t remember any lyrics of any songs ever, no matter how often I heard the song before. Or that I once was so close to hundreds of false killer whales and almost was able to touch them and just barely stayed on board, the only thing holding me in place was my foot hooked into a precariously placed box… None of that matters, because in the grand scheme of things, I’m just one person trying to give it my all.
So, you may ask, what’s the point? The point of me putting this out there and the point of ever trying if in the end it may not matter? Well, to the first I can say that every little bit matters. If Isaac Newton would have never theorized gravity, someone else would have probably, but we may see the world differently now and John Mayer’s ‘Gravity’ may not carry the same gravitas, but Newton did theorize gravity and we still love John Mayer for what he sang so long ago…
To the second, I can say that’s all we can ever do – give it all we got. Most things will never go the way we want, things will change, things will fail and we may be miserable, but if we do nothing and we can’t be miserable about it, then how do we know how to celebrate success? Will I ever be anything else than I am right now? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and realize I want to go a completely different way and that is the beauty we get to call life. Individually our marks may be tiny and for others our marks may seem insignificant but in light of everything that is going on, just daring to do something is already more than most do and it’s really all we can do.
As far as my dad goes, Any chance he gets, he’d still drive me around all over Vienna, all over Austria, Germany, and all over the world, pointing at all sorts of buildings, hundreds of them, saying “that was a project of mine” and I’m so incredibly proud of my dad having done so many different things in his life, always giving it his all and in that teaching me that life is amazingly beautiful and difficult and full of life-saving and life changing decisions.
So yes, I may never point at anything tangible and say proudly that this was a project of mine, so why even try? Or, and you guessed it, that’s my approach, I could give it my all and tackle everything that comes my way with everything I got. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a split second of ingenuity and all of a sudden I come up with the ocean equivalent of Isaac Newton and his theory of gravity or maybe/probably not but oceans, they will forever be a project of mine and as long as I know that, I’ll be okay.
To you, who bravely ventured out with me and read to the end of this post, let me tell you, you will be okay, you’ll be better than great, and that project of yours, whatever that may be, is fantastic.