Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer
We’ve all had moments when we’ve turned to someone, a father, a brother, a God and asked, “What was I meant for? Am I doing what I was supposed to do?” It’s a normal exercise for us to question our situation, regardless of its status.
But we have to be careful to realize, regardless of how much we’d like the world to be a mystical place, our own choices landed us where we are and nothing was “meant to be,” that wasn’t directed by personal decisions.
I think it’s pretty normal to think we were meant for something more than we are, at least most of us probably feel that way. What many people tend to miss is how much value their lives have to others and how much would be different in the world without their contributions.
Over the last few years, I’ve written a great deal about my late mother, Lois. She passed away in November of 2011 after long battle with Alzheimer’s disease which among other things robbed her of a lifetime of memories.
Mom wasn’t an overly complicated person but she was very smart and caring, always putting others ahead of her – particularly her children and grandchildren. She only ever worked as a school volunteer, on the farm with Dad and for a time as a waitress in a little hometown restaurant where I grew up.
She might not have had the life people grow up dreaming about, but I’d like to think she felt like she had made a difference in the world. I know she did for me and my family. She didn’t have money or status or important connections, but she had wisdom and a level of understanding of her world and those in it that I truly wish I could emulate.
To some people a basic, down-home lifestyle could seem like Purgatory; a futile, pointless existence. Even though she didn’t have a list of college degrees after her name, nor did she work some high-powered job (unless you count managing my dad), her mere influence upon those around her probably had far greater reach than she ever knew.
In my mind, Mom had the life she was “meant” to live, evidenced by the efforts of those who helped care for her and offer support to our family as her illness advanced. We all have a place in the world and it might not seem like it matters at the time, but we are often more influential than we realize.
Since the kind of work life I have chosen does not lend itself to earning fistfuls of cash, far from it, I have always hoped that my labors have at least helped to enhance someone’s life, even in the slightest. Whether I am making people laugh on stage during The Brothers & Co. variety shows, or passing along my worldly observations in my writing, I always try to give people something that will help make their life better, even if it’s only for a moment. To me, that’s rewarding in itself.
Even when people don’t agree with something I’ve written, the point to take away is that they read it, and it made them think. I don’t want everyone to agree with me, nor am I trying to persuade them to alter their life paths based on my opinion of something. My job is to enhance someone’s life just by giving them something new to think about and that is the accomplishment.
So, a sense of accomplishment isn’t always derived from academic or financial achievement, and in my limited view of the world, it almost never comes from material success. Sometimes just being who you are and contributing to the world around you makes the longest-lasting difference.
Were you “meant” to be who you are, though? That’s a question best left to you. Only you can evaluate your level personal satisfaction from the world you’ve created for yourself. You are who you are, right or wrong. So like I heard once in a song, “This is it. This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball.” And enjoy being you. It doesn’t matter how you got there.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at www.gerydeer.com.