We've heard it time and again: the world is waiting for our input, and this contribution of ours will be optimal if we aim for the stars (plus, it will be good for our own self-worth).
What I have learned in my thirties, however (after being a seemingly incurable perfectionist in my twenties), is that striving for excellence is great, but striving for balance is better.
Once you have a spouse, a car (or two), a house, a few pets, a few kids and a few jobs (including self-started businesses - yes I'm that crazy), it becomes increasingly difficult to be perfect at anything at all. Most days you simply do your best and cross your fingers.
A perfectly legit and somewhat realistic goal to have, in that case, is to maintain some sort of balance in your life. Yes, I will have a stimulating career in which I share my talents and flourish as a person, but not at the cost of relaxing with my spouse or friends. Yes, I will focus on my health, prepare fresh foods and work out regularly, but not at the cost of playing or talking with my kids. Yes, I will be focused and efficient, but not at the cost of being cordial to the people around me. Yes, I will maintain a clean and organized household, but not at the cost of my 7 hours of sleep. Etc.
It takes constant reevaluation and adjustment. Lately I have somewhat neglected my training, spending more time tasting wines instead. It has been wonderful, but when I got back to running... ouch. I realized I do not enjoy starting my half-marathon training from scratch (as opposed to starting from a solid base). I will try to remember that from now on.
That being said, despite admiring those who are committed and who perform in their field, I highly value the development of a wide array of abilities. Are those 2 things compatible? I'm not sure. (You tell me.)
Maybe it's my way of dealing with the fact that I have not accomplished anything notorious yet, but I like to focus on the fact that my life is balanced. I'm not a field expert of anything (although I do have a couple areas of knowledge and aptitude), but I can do a lot of different things. I like the feeling of independence and empowerment that comes from it.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
Okay, well, there are a few things on that list that I still need to work on.
Most of us are not specialists. And even if we are, most of us are not THE leading expert in our field. Part of it is due to an absence of motivation/drive, and part of it is due to an absence of sufficient talent (I include myself in that example - if talent had nothing to do with it I would be a world-renowned architect right now - I abandoned the idea after suffering in Grade 12 Math, and Art).
While we're at balance, why not evoke the Latin aphorism, Carpe Diem (seize the day). Working hard toward a goal, even if said goal is remote and you do not see the results right away, is highly admirable and generally worth it. But taking the time right here and right now to simply enjoy yourself is just as important.
About to do just that tonight. Can't wait.
I don't often allow myself to just have fun. It might have something to do with being a first-born, but I'm very duty and result oriented. Yet having fun is fine. It's all about the consequences. Big, bad consequences? Don't do it. Small, minor consequences? Go ahead and indulge. That applies to consuming (be it food, drink or material goods). Example:
Three weeks before his death, my father received an extremely comfortable all leather recliner for his fiftieth birthday. As he was sitting in it for the first time, he said to my mom: "We should never wait that long before indulging in such pleasurable things." (He had been dreaming of such a recliner for a while, but a frugal man when it came to spending money, he felt it was a non-necessary object. He seemed to change his mind as soon as he tried it though.)
My dad got to use the recliner for only 3 weeks before he passed away. To me, that's a lesson that we should...
Yield to temptation... it may not pass your way again!
At the same time I am a strong advocate for simplicity in general, and specifically applied to material stuff. Owning many things is fun but it's a responsibility and a burden (in my nomadic mind anyways). One house and one car is plenty, I could not fathom having a cottage, a boat an what not on top of it! I like to feel light!
Never own more than you can carry in both hands at a dead run.
Once again, I look for healthy balance in my relationship with stuff.
Gotta go, I have to work on my tree pose now.
How do you balance it all?