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Measuring Success

06 Feb

Random Writers: Write about achieving a personal goal or realizing a dream come true.

By Gil Gonzalez

Francis Triff. My high school non-girlfriend girlfriend.

I was an extremely awkward and socially clumsy teenager. Frances was the first girl of my age with whom I could actually relate. She was smart, pretty, funny, and oh so very charming. She was my buddy, and we’d spend hours on the phone just talking. Looking back on it now, she was probably my first love, and I didn’t even know it.

Frances and I shared many a conversation about goals, dreams, and ambitions. I remember at the time in my life, my plan was to attend the Air Force Academy, become a fighter pilot, and after my five years of service, go on to a long and illustrious career with Pan Am Airlines.

(I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing)

One conversation in particular I remember sharing with Frances was about becoming parents. I remember telling her, “I want to have a kid by the time I am twenty seven.” The number was quite random, yet specific enough that it just stuck in my head. When my daughter was born four months before my twenty-seventh birthday, I remember taking a moment to think how serendipitous it was that it all worked out according to plan. I had accomplished a personal goal.

I think that was the last time I was able to say that.

Sure, I’ve had lots of success since then, but for the life of me I can’t think of one specific instance in which I set a goal and worked to accomplish it.

All the jobs and varying positions I’ve held at work have been a result of being in the right place at the right time. There was no career pathing on my part. I didn’t set out to get to my current role by design. If anything, my professional career has been like one big game of Plinko.

I’ve self-published two short novels, but that was an opportunity that came to me out of the blue. It pretty much ‘just happened’. With instant deadlines and deliverables, the pace of the project forced the publication of those novels to come to fruition.

I’ve had some of my work featured in the local newspapers, but I’ve never set out to write a piece specifically to be printed in the paper. Again, those were matter of luck and good timing. I took a chance and emailed an editor who happened to be impressed enough to offer me the opportunity to run my piece as a feature. It was an honor.

I’ve played a part, both big and small, in several non-profit events that have benefitted others. I never set my mind to be a non-profit volunteer or event coordinator. Rather, there was a job that needed to be done and I accepted the challenge to do it. With the guidance and partnership of my wife, I am happy to say we did a really good job. But it wasn’t planned. Again, it just happened.

And that’s where my personal lesson lies. For as much of an O-C-D control freak as I am, one of the greatest things I’ve had to learn is that life just happens.

My favorite band is Sister Hazel, and one of my favorite songs by them is “Life Got in the Way.”

And I wanted you so much
Just like I do right now
I wanted us to be the one the poets write their books about
I wanted it to last
I wanted to grow old
But life got in the way

I think we all have a story or two in our lives to which we can relate those lyrics. But no matter the goal and regardless the dream, life is going to happen the way it happens. In my very humble opinion, success is not measured in the result, but rather in our reaction and adaptability to the meandering unpredictability that is life. I still think it’s important to dream, to reach for the stars with reckless abandon. But whether or not we achieve those dreams is not the measure of a successful life. Rather, it’s how we act and who we become along the way that creates our individual marks in this world.

I still have my dreams of one day being able to claim myself a professional writer. There are several writing projects rambling in my head that I would love to give birth to. Maybe some will see the light of day. Perhaps others will spend eternity in the company of long-lost loves that might have been. You can’t spend your time dwelling on that because after all, that’s life.

And as for Frances Triff, wherever she may be. We’ll always have Homeroom.

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1 Comment

Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Gil Gonzalez, Prompts

 

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