Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday's Flashback

I'll never forget it. 1983. I was on my way home from school and I was listening to KZ-106 out of Chattanooga. Back then KZ-106 was the only thing to listen to. The DJ was a guy named Jammin' Jay Scott and I was toodling down Riverbend Road, in my banana yellow Mercury, when he suddenly announced: "And here is a new song from the legendary Tina Turner." This is the song that followed; her big comeback number. And I knew from the moment I first heard it that it was going to be huge...and so was she.

Fun, eh?



Why is it that too often in life we find ourselves at a fork in the road and we aren't sure which way to go? Once we reach a certain age, it should stand to reason that we've made all the important decisions in life and now everything else should be fairly simple to decide. It doesn't though. The older I get, the more I realize that the choices only get harder and the way gets less clear.

I've always been different from most people I know. And I've always liked that about myself too. I can't imagine anything worse than being "most people." I look around and see so many people I know who are unfulfilled and simply coasting through life that it makes me very sad for them. These are the same people who feel like average is fine and, for them, I suppose it is, because I don't think that the truly ordinary folks realize that they are ordinary. They've accepted their lives for what they are and there doesn't seem to be a reason to change anymore. They still dream and would like to have something other than their lot in life, some of them that is, but they don't do anything to bring about what they want.

The concept of re-evaluating our station in life is one of the greatest tools we have in our arsenal of living and making it through. For me, these re-evaluations seem to present themselves too frequently and I wonder what it is about me that causes me to question myself and where I'm going in my life. Maybe it's the fact that I am different from most folks I know and perhaps this is why I usually always emerge from any phase feeling stronger and more capable of doing whatever has to be done. I don't know. Yet in my almost forty-two years of life I have turned more corners than most people will ever dream of turning, and I've always found myself in a better place for it.

I don't believe it is healthy to stand still. I think that as humans, as an evolving species, we are compelled to move forward and to find new ways to make our lives better. Those who don't do this are only fooling themselves that they can stay put, because the future is always unfolding and nothing ever stays the same for long. We lose people we love. Friends disappoint us and let us down. Our circumstances take us up or sink us low. We don't have the option of remaining stagnant. Some people of course lead stagnant lives but even for them fate is always sculpting a different path for them to travel and they assuage themselves with the illusion that they are in control.

I don't even kid myself that I am total control anymore. Too many things have happened to me in the past that have proven I am not always in control. So what do I do? I re-evaluate where I am and ask myself if I am where I want to be. I do believe, and emphatically so, that we are in complete control of making our dreams come true and it is up to us whether we choose to invest the time and energy it takes to discover how to make our dreams become realities. I waited until I was almost thirty-eight years old to start doing this for myself. The way has not been easy, and I am still striving for new things, but at least I am not in a stagnant place where I don't feel that I am accomplishing anything. There is more to life than just living. There really is.

Of all the lessons life has taught me, the most difficult one for me to accept was the knowledge that I have the power to let myself be whatever I want to be. The most painful aspect of embracing this truth lay in the acceptance of the fact that certain things in my life had to be discarded to move ahead. I can't count on anyone but myself when it comes down to the nitty gritty and I had to constantly remind myself of this in order to believe it. People I love and consider friends have their own lives to lead and their own agendas to fulfill, and I cannot always depend on them to be what I need them to be. I have to be what I need myself to be. Me. Just me. If I can't do it for myself then nobody else can either. It really is that simple.

Am I fulfilled? Is my life what I want it to be? Does my work satisfy me, or is it just a job? What do I need to do to take that next step up? Is this the top for me?

Hell no! I am not even halfway to where I want to go before I die. I have a friend who is so competitive that he doesn't care what it takes to win and in being so single minded he also doesn't care who gets hurt or who is disappointed by his actions. He thinks he holds all the cards when he is actually at the mercy of everybody he is competing against, because to win one must have something to show for it, and if no one is there to congratulate you once you've grasped the prize, you really didn't win anything. You've just blundered about trying to find what you needed to win and the wreckage you left in your wake far outweighs whatever satisfaction you got from winning. So is he a winner? No, not in my eyes he isn't. He is the loser because in his attempts to be number one he came in last in the eyes of others. I hope one day he realizes this and reroutes his energy into a more productive way of living.

My goals are made according to where I want to go in the future. I wanted to be a writer and so I set out to become one. I immersed myself in the company of other writers and I made friends with the people who possessed the knowledge I needed to become like them. I treasured their contributions to my task and I brought them along with me on the ride. These are the people who wanted to come with me and they are also the ones who applaud whenever I reach that next step. Getting where we want to go is worthless if you're alone when you get there. Life is no fun when it is lived in solitary confinement.

So what is the point of this dissertation? I am in a good spot right now. My writing has taken me to a level that I never dreamed of attaining. I have some famous friends. I know there is always someone there to advise me when I don't know what to do next. My family is safe and solid and the love we share is good. I should not feel the need to be re-evaluating anything these days. Yet I am.

In grappling with this, I suppose the only consolation comes from accepting that re-evaluation is an ongoing part of living. It leads to new places where the view is usually better and the rewards are more fulfilling. It doesn't bother me so much to find myself again considering my options when I see that no step I've taken in the last few years has lead me to anyplace I didn't want to be. Maybe I didn't know at the time I wanted to go wherever I went but it was also worth the trip once I got there.

Is this a fulfilling realization? You bet it is.

And that is my sole focus for now.