Down here in the desert the school year wraps up insanely early. Likely because it is hotter than Hades and everyone is trying to get out of the insufferable heat and find an alternative venue for the summer months. But as the school year came to a close, it marked a significant weigh point in our lives. Our oldest daughter graduated from eighth grade and this incredible milestone ushered in an immense amount of pride and also an important pause and wonderful reflection on what has been my life’s work thus far.
If I might indulge myself for a moment, our oldest daughter was awarded what her school refers to as the Pillar Award. It is the highest honor the school bestows on the students and is given to one male and one female student in each grade. Interestingly, the faculty who used to decide on who was deserving of this honor, years ago realized that in truth, the students are far more aware of their own. It is the students that truly know best who among them represents these qualities across both time and circumstance. The Pillar award carries added enormity in the kids eighth grade year as these are the two kids who give a speech, addressing students, faculty and family at the graduation ceremony.
Everest, knowing she needed to write and give this speech sat down to create and craft the message she wanted to share. And in doing so she was adamant about not discussing it, disclosing it or divulging any of her thoughts to her doting and overly curious parents. Even a comment free proof reading couldn’t be negotiated. No matter how hard I tried to wiggle my way into her thoughts she was unswayed by my inquiries and I stopped just shy of begging. Now I know my daughter. She has always been my beloved Old Soul. Wise beyond her years and astonishingly unaffected by what the world is doing around her. She has always been beholden to only her own compass and awes me with her ability to forgo “fitting in” in exchange for feeling true to all and everything she is. The irony was most certainly not lost on me that the girl who doesn’t care what anyone else thinks is the girl that everyone else admires. Hmmm. Interesting…
But it got me thinking about our resume. Not our fluffed up, occasionally exaggerated, intentionally impressive business resume, but our life resume. I will hazard a guess that most of us have written a work related resume. A few pages of fact and perhaps a little fiction intended to convince would-be employers of our immense abilities and inestimable value to any organization lucky enough to write us a paycheck. But when was the last time we sat down to take stock of our life accomplishments? When have we reflected, on our inventory of “moments?” How often have we spent time dwelling on what we have accomplished in life, love, relationships, and memories? Have we bullet pointed how we have given, cared, celebrated, shared, laughed and lived? Have we made note of the times where we have risen to a challenge, overcome our fears, shown tender kindness and generous care? Have we commemorated those moments of connection, belief, faith, hope, spontaneity, and joy? Have we dared to risk and reveled in the thrill, not of success, but of simply and wonderfully, trying? Trying to both believe in the extraordinary and find our own way to BE extraordinary. Have we given as much mention to each triumph, no matter how small, as we have to every time we have fallen short of our best intentions. In other words, how does our life resume look so far?
With a new baby in the house, I will admit that I toggle between feeling blissfully immersed in the “moment,” allowing my senses to be filled with the absolute magic and wonder of the here and now. Every coo and grin swells my heart in ways I will never be able to explain or tell tale of. But the sublime joy of savoring this precious tiny life wrestles with the whip cracking in my mind insisting on accomplishments, achievements and being “productive.” And the truth is, I’m desperately drawn to both. And while it would be alarmingly easy to say these two endeavors are at odds – patiently nurturing a child - unglamorous work that doesn’t provide trophies, bonuses, a gold watch, a promotion or a trip to Hawaii. A career path whose success is measured in report cards, pleases and thank you’s and parental pride is not made or meant to be compared with the business “accomplishments” we pursue with such vigor. Are we offering as much energy and importance to the pursuit of achievements that measure our soul or our salary? Do we throw ourselves equally into making a living as we do our determination to making life worth living?
I heard a great quote recently, “as parents we can’t take all of the credit or all of the blame.” So as I watched Everest address a room of over 300 people with confidence, poise and grace, I was left utterly and wonderfully speechless as I witnessed in full and glorious version the person she was and is becoming. I realized that there is no honest way I can take the credit for the girl I was witnessing before me. But I also knew that if my life’s resume included only this very moment I would feel blessed beyond words. I would feel as though I had done something worthy and right and that such a thing is the greatest accomplishment any of us could hope for.
I desire and demand much out of life and myself. But I also realize that a life’s work that is seeks out the spouse, the parent, the friend, the daughter or son, sister or brother we are able to be – this is the accomplishment of a lifetime. When we place not just our heart, but the whole of our purpose in these things…in these relationships we have touched upon all that is good and lovely in this world and no other accomplishment or purposeful achievement will ever be so extraordinarily worthy of praise.