I’m extremely bad at living life. I mean it, I’m bad at it. Here’s the lucky part for me though, most of my friends and family are pretty bad at living life as well. Oh sure, I know people who managed to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, candlestick makers, etc in a socially acceptable amount of time and by the time they were 28 were married, own a home, had kids, etc. Those people though are definitely the exception in my life though that proves the rule.
Until recently I was sure I was bound for a life of mediocrity in all facets of life. As I’ve written before it didn’t start that way. When I was in high school and especially when I was in college I was certain that I would be one of those stars Jack Kerouac spoke about that caused everyone to look up and marvel in it’s shiny light until it burnt out, nevermore to be seen in the night sky. When that didn’t happen though, when the world wasn’t convinced of my genius from the second I walked into my starting blocks it took me back. I had never had to work at this sort of thing before and wasn’t sure how to start. The one thing I knew was I didn’t want to risk losing the lose the little I was able to stock away. I want you to think about that last sentence for a second because if you know me at all you’d know I was able to stock away nothing. The little I had was nothing compared to what others my age, the successful ones had managed to build with their lives. After a certain period I figured this was it, this was my lot and I should settle into the life of mediocrity I started this paragraph writing about. The way I saw it I had given it my all and failed. Of course I hadn’t, I hadn’t given it much really. It sure did make it easier to look at myself in the mirror and say to myself, “Of course I have a layer of fat around my belly. Of course I haven’t published anything worthwhile. Of course whatever.” You get the point. The truth is though I hadn’t really given it my best shot. I’d settled.
Recently, and I really think it was around the time I quit smoking for good, I started to make some positive changes and noticed good things happening in my life that I hadn’t expected. I started living healthier, not just with the smoking but what I was eating, exercise as well. Oh sure, some of it took the better part of two years to become actualized but it did. I started to lose weight and feel better about how I looked. I started to see the kid I used to see in the mirror when I was in high school and college. Now, I still have a long way to go but the process has started. I’ve even started thinking about running a 5K. It hasn’t been all physical though and it hasn’t just been my changes either. I began to value myself more and began thinking long and hard about my career. Obviously I’m not going to speak out of school here but I’ve finally started to gain a foothold where I finally think my family might be able to live off my salary rather than using it as a tax write off. I also decided to self publish a book of poetry that I’ve had sitting on my hard drive forever. I made some half-hearted attempts to get it published before but in this day and age technology makes the need for a publishing company almost obsolete. My wife has made huge strides in her career the last few months as well. It really feels like this could be the year of the Rullos!
This may all read like a self-congratulatory column but it isn’t I have a point. See, I think I’ve finally realized that the missing equation in making my life better was the want and desire to take a risk. Deciding to play it safe and attempt to guard the shreds of a life that I had gained wasn’t making my life any better. Only when I decided to throw caution to the wind and being taking a few chances and playing up to the situation rather than the lowest common denominator did I finally start advancing some of the situations in my life. Only then did I start to achieve some of the goals I’ve set. In the end I might publish a book that only gets read by my friends ; I may only pedal half way up the hill I’ve been trying to climb on my bike; maybe my wife won’t become the world-famous artist we know her to be; it sounds crazy but maybe the little garage band I play in on the weekends won’t become a rock sensation. In the end though, I’ll have taken a chance, I’ll have reached above rather than stood still, I’ll be half way up the hill rather than at the bottom. One thing I’ve learned recently, the view from half way up the hill is still better than standing down at the bottom.