Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I Am Enough

I took a long list of ToDos with me when we went away and didn't get terribly far with them. Oh, I caught up on my photo album and general organization of my digital pictures, but I didn't do so very well in most other areas: such as working through certain tutorials and computer projects.

Recently, my reading habits have taken a turn which I could not have predicted several years ago, for I have moved from reading mostly fiction toward reading mostly non-fiction. This is partly due to becoming absorbed in the process of trying to acquire a few, new computer skills and spending quite a bit of my reading time with my nose in computer manuals. It is also partly due to not knowing where to turn next for good fiction.

You see, I like to find a enjoyable series to follow. It started when I was a kid with The Bobsey Twins, The Hardy Boys, Chip Hilton, and others. As a adult, I like Birtish mysteries, and there are a lot of good choices out there: Elizabeth Geroge's, Inspector Lynley; Peter Robinson's, Inspector Banks; Ruth Rendell's, Inspector Wexford; and several other authors and series which my feeble brain can't dredge up at the moment — Ann Granger and Deborah Crombie spring to mind but their characters don't. But one eventually gets to the end of even that plethora and wonders what to read next.

Two years ago, CBC had a Canada Reads contest. Each of six well-known persons plumped for his or her favourite novel. Each week, the group voted and eliminated one until only Micheal Ondatje's, In the Skin of a Lion, was left standing. Bought it; read it; was hugely disappointed. If that's the winner, how terrible must the losers be? One doesn't know where to turn or whom to believe.

At The Cottage, upon hearing rave reviews from both Cuppa and her sister, I decided to give Sue Monk Kidd's, The Secret Life of Bees, a whirl. I suppose that it might be seen as a woman's book — written by a woman, about women, and primarily for women, but, I'm rather both fond, admiring, and respectful of women. Always have been. Never required re-education about their value or roles or that sort of thing. Without ever thinking to refer to myself as such, and while having reacted to some of the more strident personalities that have bestrode the scene, I have probably always been a feminist — although one hesitates to use a word that holds such different connotations for different people.

In the event, I read The Secret Life of Bees, thoroughly enjoyed it, and felt pleased to have enjoyed fiction once again. The novel intertwines race, religion, sisterhood (in a broad sense), and (yes) bees in a remarkably creative way.

This thought, and I must loosley paraphrase the thought for I no longer am in possession of the book, leapt off the pages at me: You don't have to be great at doing something: to love to do it is sufficient.

This resonated with me because I have long wished to excel, truly excel at something. I have been fairly competent in some pursuits at various times: chess, tennis, gardening, photography, and computing, for example. However, I excel at none, and I have tended to feel cheated or left out. "He's competent," strikes the ears not as a huge accolade.

Suddenly, Kidd was telling me that's completely okay. If, in their time I have really enjoyed any of the above pursuits or others, that is sufficient. We can't all be gifted, but we can all, indeed we must all, be participants. We've all heard and laughed at this question, but it serves the point: "Where would you be if only the best lovers made love?" But ain't it fun anyway?

Last night was one of those nights that I have mentioned previously: when I'm hot and cold at the same time. It drives me crazy and drove me out of bed and down to the computer last night. I checked for new blog entries through RSS feeds and found that Mel of Actual Unretouched Photo had recently posted Through a Stranger's Eyes, which I found to be quite marvellous. (Yes, we now have a new link in the side panel — do check out Actual Unretouched Photo.)

To some extent, when I read wonderfully written blogs like Mel's, I feel inferior and am tempted not to bother any more. In so many blogs out there, there's a level of ability that I cannot hope to match. Then I give my head a shake and tell myself to do what I enjoy doing. According to Sue Monk Kidd and according to common sense (if we are but willing to use it), it is enough.

The world will not beat a path to my humble blog door, but it is enough that I write what I wish to write, that I post a photo that I wish to post. Life is not meant to be a competition but a striving: to be the best that I can be.

I feel that we do our children a disservice when we tell them that they can be/do whatever they want: "The sky's the limit. You can be whatever you want to be." I know that we are trying to tell them to reach for the stars as it were, but we must exercise caution in how we communicate the message lest we tell a falsehood. Try as long and as hard as we might, most of us do not possess the innate ability to be an Olympic champion or a Nobel prize winner.

In the final analysis, we can only find those things that we love to do and then do them as well as we can. That is enough. It has to be, and it is.



Iona said...

I noticed Mel has mentioned you as well in her latest entry! "writes lovely prose and takes amazing pictures" she wrote. Well, I'd have to agree :)

I think it's funny sometimes how we Bloggers seem like one big family! I've noticed there's a certain group of Bloggers that all read each others Blog and all have the same links on their own Blog.
My hubby checked out a Blog which he thought no one knew yet and suddenly a huge picture of me appeared! (Imagine Hubby's surprise! And mine for that matter!)
Telepathy: at (http://ltelepathy.blogspot.com/2005/01/
Turned out the guy had read my Blog. I don't know whether to be honored or slightly embarrassed!
Anyway, it's a small world we live in!

Good luck with reading your non-fiction!

Wash Lady said...

Sometimes, it takes an outsider to help us appreciate that which we are not able to recognize within ourselves or in our abilities.

Every single person is gifted at something. Some find it sooner with out much effort and others take the long and tedious road to discovery. Those who are the best are the ones who can learn to appreciate themselves, be genuine at who they are and not allow themselves to become complacent with life.

In the end - all we can do is all we can do and all we can do IS good enough.

I'm thankful for many reasons that I stumbled onto your blog and I'll keep coming back until you stop being real or generous with your pictures.

And I agree - that book is really nice and speaks a fabulous message.

Mel said...

I read Sue Monk Kidd's book not long ago and immediately recommended it to everyone I know. :)

Thanks for linking me and thanks for the nice comments. I appreciate it.

And I completely "get" what you're saying here, too. When I read a really great novel, I always think there is no point in ever writing another word, yet somehow, I still do. I'm weirdly optimistic sometimes.