During my senior year in high school, my classmates chose me as “most likely to succeed”. I remember how honored I felt, and also how surreal it was to hear all the adults speaking to us as “tomorrow’s leaders”, “the future of our country”, and on and on. Wow – could we live up to all this promise?
I financed my college years in large part by playing piano for voice lessons. I went to school at Indiana University, which boasts a world-class music school. I never aspired to attend the school (well, I did take lessons one semester – more on that another time), but I was just fine-n-dandy for accompanying. I spent many hours in the studios of world-famous singers, the walls often plastered with posters of their performances across Europe. They were an eccentric group to be sure, but wow – to be in the presence of such greatness was a thrill!
Also during college, I ushered at the auditorium, mainly as a poor college student’s way to see shows for free. I remember standing just 3 feet from Liberace as he walked out the back door from the auditorium to his waiting limo. Ahh, greatness so close, yet again.
Then last fall, I had the joy of watching Sarah Palin speak, albeit at the distance of half a coliseum away and across the heads of thousands. But no matter – I was still close to greatness.
Will I ever achieve greatness? Sometimes I wonder.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I will, but probably not the type of greatness I would have envisioned 20 years ago.
No, my greatness will come from lives touched. My eight years of teaching produced many small moments of greatness. And most of all, my eleven years of parenting have produced more greatness than I could have imagined.
So, I’m not expecting a phone call from Barack Obama seeking my advice (although you know I have plenty I’d share with him!), nor am I expecting to show up on any of 2008’s “Best Of” lists. But to know that because of me, the world will enjoy three lives full of goodness, caring and intelligence, is a feeling of great satisfaction.
Years ago, when my girls were little, I took them to the zoo and an older lady asked if I planned to have more children. I told her no, feeling that she must be a little odd to ask that of a total stranger. But then she went on to say that she thought “good people” ought to have more children. Although it was phrased oddly, I know what she means. The world can use all the hardworking, kind, helpful people it can get.
I’m happy to have contributed to that, in my own way … although my classmates may wish they could re-do their vote!