What Wasn’t

This post is about completion, not regret.

People have a hard time with the difference.  Talking about what was not to be is heard as an expression of regret: “disappointed over something, especially a missed opportunity.”  But if I don’t speak of my dreams that never happened, then I am also guilty of shoving those dreams under the rug to pretend that I didn’t care about them.  And that wouldn’t be true.  At some point, I spent time trying to accomplish these goals.  And, at some point, I quit.

I want to feel “complete” about the things that never happened and that won’t, now that I am 40.  “Complete” is more of a declaration than a feeling, really.  I say, “I’m complete about that” as a way to close that door without remorse, without sadness.  Being complete comes after the catharsis, after the tears are shed and a deep breath is taken.  It is said in that space between letting go and creating something new.

The following is a list of things I wanted to do but never did and now, given that I am (almost) 40 and a mom and wife, won’t.  It’s okay.  I have other dreams.  I need to let these go so I can make room for more.
  1. Lead Singer in a Rock Band: I love to sing and I crave self-expression.  I admire singers who allow themselves to be real and raw in front of an audience, who are completely themselves.  I envisioned being a version of myself whose only outlet is loud music and a room fully of happy, tipsy people trying to get laid.  (I sang in high school and joined a few bands in college, none of them leading anywhere.)  And, no, Karoake, while fun, isn’t the same thing.

    The song was, "I Touch Myself."  What did you expect?

    The song was, "I Touch Myself." What did you expect?

  2. Be Subject of Interview for Something, Anything, on NPR: I’ve come to realize that my life is simply too normal to be interviewed about anything on NPR.  Not that they only interview people with crazy lives – some are extraordinarily great, some are extraordinarily sad.  Of course I would prefer to be on the great side.  I wish I had invented some cool product or been at the forefront of some scientific breakthrough, or was an expert on something that is deemed important by the U.S. intelligentsia.  Alas, as a SAHM and a wife living in a Texas suburb, I don’t fall into any of those categories.  Sure, I could eventually do something NPR worthy, but I don’t see my current dreams moving in that direction.  NPR fame will have to pass me by this time around.
  3. Excel at an Artistic Expression (Besides Writing): For a while it was photography, then using keys (yes, keys) creatively, then just decorating my home in a fabulous way.  None of them have come true at this point.  The house is still a possibility, but did you notice how much it costs to decorate a room?  Yikes.  Besides, we have to buy a house first.
  4. Hob-Nob with Famous People: Not all famous people, just those who inspire me.  I won’t name names, that would be too embarrassing (as though this dream isn’t embarrassing enough!).
  5. Make a Difference on a Global Scale: When I was in college, I was part of the team that brought Earth Day back to campus.  It was a huge, and successful, effort.  I wanted to do more but there were so many areas to impact: the environment, the Iraq war (#1), women’s issues – I couldn’t pick which one I wanted to change the most.  So, I didn’t pick.  After a 20 year hiatus from organized activism, I am back in the game.  Only now I see my contribution as much more local and on a smaller scale – helping those right here in my community.  Doesn’t have the bluster of “World Leader in Environmental Change” but as I already noted from a previous post, I’m good with that.
  6. Be A Model: When I was in middle school, I had a modeling audition but left my Polaroid photo at home.  My mom was pissed!  (“I took you out of school and got your hair done for nothing?!”) I felt to guilty to ask again after that.  In high school, I got an actual body that simply isn’t model material.  The desire for public approval of my looks is not my proudest desire, nor my strongest – I haven’t had plastic surgery nor do I starve myself to look like a model.  I have been toying with the idea of setting up a photo shoot as though I was one (a friend did it and posted the photos on FB – I was annoyed and jealous) but financially this makes no sense.  I think it is time to let this one go.
  7. Be Rich So I Can Give Away Money: Make no mistake – if I were rich, I’d be sporting some serious jewelry first.  But after the diamonds and the Kelly bag purchase, I wish I could help those in need more than I already do, those close to me and organizations I believe in.  I wish I could afford a new car so I could help my cousin keep her job with GM.  I’d like to pay my parents back for my college education (not that they expect it).  I’d like to help my friends when they are in financial straits (more than a few of them now). I’d like to give significant money to organizations like Planned Parenthood, ACLU and Heifer International.  Money doesn’t solve all problems but it does solve some problems, and many organizations need money to solve problems.  I likely won’t have that kind of cash, though, so my small donations will suffice.  I know they won’t turn them away.

There.  Now you know what a young woman sitting in the UofM Law Library dreamt about while not writing her “Poli Sci 325: Political Philosophy” paper.  Looking at them like this, I see that the ideas behind the dreams are worth keeping (self-expression, creativity, charity); only the vehicles to fulfilling the ideas need to go.  If you feel so compelled, share with me what dreams you have given up to make room for new ones.  I’d love to hear.

Also, the next post will be about what I have accomplished in my 40 years, a kind of “list of things you don’t know about me.”  Except the list is more for me to take stock and be proud of myself as I move into a new decade.  And you get to marvel at what I have done.

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4 responses to “What Wasn’t

  1. I’m thinking that many of us had similar ideals when we were young–especially the activism thing. Funny how time (and kids) tempers us. Not the zeal, just the interest in throwing ourselves into it.

    Don’t give up on the modeling thing. I think you could still make it.

  2. I think you’re NPR-worthy.

  3. I see how it is! You just wanted to post a pic to show off your great rack!

    These are things that could come true at some point, ya know. Life ain’t over once you’re 40… it just continues to change. I look forward to seeing how you continue to change! 😉

  4. I love this post.
    First, it’s so nice to see that someone else has/had some of the same ambitions I did in college/grad school…the same idealistic beliefs about the possibilities of the future. I’m not 40 yet, but it’s closer than I would like, and I do find myself thinking about the things I will have to let go of…that I’m not quite ready for. Large-scale activism has always been there, waiting/looming over the mundane requirements of my daily life. I harbor an odd desire for some kind of national interview as well – used to be on Oprah, but now she is too annoying to me – so NPR would be good. 😉 Completion and publication of a novel which receives some sort of critical acclaim is still on my list…maybe I could be interviewed about that.
    Anyway, what I love about this post is that I found myself saying to you, in my head, “Well, you certainly aren’t too old for that…or for that…heck, most people who accomplish some of these things don’t have the depth of experience they need to do it until AFTER they are 40!” And that felt nice to say that to you because I need to hear it myself, too.
    And haven’t you heard? 40 is the new 30…so we get to do the decade over again…with more experience…right?
    Thanks for sharing.