Luckily I had my camera with me walking to a meeting across campus on one of the coldest days a couple years ago. His nose and ears were as red as his shorts. I gave him a hat to warm his ears (in post processing, not for real, silly). He gets me thinking about self discipline, something I'm sure I could have developed if I'd had the willpower, ha. I have it in me in small spoonfuls. You know, one month on the treadmill, one month off.
Most of the super disciplined people I've met made me feel bad about myself. Well I guess they didn't make me feel bad, I just felt bad. I felt like they saw me as a slacker, and I didn't feel confident in slackerhood. You're a better person if you paint the peeling porch, take out the trash rather than let it overflow for two days, never eat Kentucky Fried Chicken, finish reading that book after several months, and visit all your blog friends regularly. (Oh, but some people think sitting on your computer visiting blog friends is slacking.)
Not to be a braggadocio, but I was voted Most Likely to Succeed in my high school graduating class. I know it sounds impressive. But actually, it's embarrassing, considering my high school career and my rather normal life now, and if you knew me then you might wonder about it like I do. I was an average B student, after four of my siblings before me were either valedictorian or salutatorian. Maybe if I'd actually studied I might have done all right, I mean high school isn't that hard. I was not involved in any student organizations, though I was a terrible class treasurer sophomore year who didn't do a single thing if I recall. It was risky electing me to that job, as you'll see below.
My co-recipient of the Most Likely to Succeed award was Frank Fitzgerald. Here we are in the yearbook photo. Someone thought it would be cute to photograph us sneaking money out of the cafeteria's cash register. See what I mean about risky?
Now Frank was a worthy recipient and a high achiever who didn't make me feel bad. A straight A student, he went on to be elected to the Michigan House of Representatives. Oh, I found him in wiki on his grandfather's page - his namesake Frank D. Fitzgerald who was Michigan's governor from 1935-36. Guess what, while he was Governor the state budget was balanced!
In our small town, Frank and I lived a few blocks apart, on presidential streets - I lived first on Harrison, then Lincoln, and Frank lived in a big red brick house on Jefferson (across the street from Loring!). Like Thomas Jefferson, Frank was a redhead. If he hadn't died suddenly at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, NY, on a business trip December 9, 2004, maybe Frank would have gone on to run for governor some day, following his grandfather's path. I heard an owl thrum the morning I read about his sudden death in the paper, leaving his wife Ruth and two kids. I think he was saying good-bye. Before our spree as criminal partners robbing the till, we started out as lil chefs side by side in kindergarten making applesauce and butter at Holbrook Elementary and went through every grade together until graduation.
I was never ambitious like Frank. No career goals. I was, and am, a starer out of windows. Why was I voted Most Likely to Succeed alongside the class valedictorian and future public servant? Was it because I was a non-rebellious PK (preacher's kid)?
I'm still an average person in the echelon of success, but I have a supremely comfortable, healthy and happy life.
Of course the question is, what is success and how is it measured?
Vincent van Gogh, also a PK, was a miserable failure in relationships with women and in various careers before he decided to create beauty. Famously, he sold just one painting to someone other than his dear brother Théo, who supported him. When I stood and turned slowly in the middle of the van Gogh gallery in the Orsay, surveying the bright palette and overwhelmed with blue, I wept. I bet no one voted him Most Likely to Succeed.
I think when you join discipline with passion, the world benefits - though when you're passionate the discipline doesn't really come hard. But self-control for its own sake, about the "shoulds" someone somewhere has written in the sky, just makes me feel like a slacker, 'cause I will always stare out of windows, whether or not the trash needs emptying or the book I've been reading for a year still has 88 pages to go.