Okay, school's out for me. I conquered the equivalent of eighth grade Algebra, and I am happy, but not totally satisfied. Our school is in the midst of transitioning from a technical college to a community technical college, where the credits will transfer to the local university. I took advantage of the last opportunity to take the technical school math, and did well, but if I decide to go on to the university, I will have to face my nemesis again. It is difficult for me to say "wow, I did it" without also qualifying that pat on the back with the words "yeah, but it's not the real Algebra".
I am learning to enjoy the accomplishments of the day, or semester, as the case may be, while simultaneously acknowledging that there are other choices I can make. I can take the harder math. I can go on to the university and pursue a bachelor's degree. Those choices do not have to diminish the sense of satisfaction that I derive from having passed the "baby" Algebra.
The photographer Eugene Smith said it well, "Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold."
Though he was referring to photography, I think his words apply aptly to life itself. There is always another horizon beckoning in the distance. We may not choose to reach for all of them. We can't have them all. We may struggle to reach one horizon and find ourselves in a place that is entirely different from what we thought we were reaching for. That is the nature of horizons, they change. The trick is to be satisfied with the process of reaching for the horizon, and upon reaching it, being willing to let go and reach for another. I believe that's called growth.
Last night, I went with a group of young girls to the nursing home to sing Christmas carols. As I looked around the room where we were singing I observed many different states of existence. One youngish man sang Rudolph with us, with childish enthusiasm. One woman quietly mouthed the words to Silent Night. Another more tactile woman kept rolling her wheel chair up closer and closer. She wanted hugs. Of course, there were those who slept through the whole performance, those who would rather not have been bothered. My favorite was the homely woman in a wheel chair who grinned and told us all in her Cajun accent "Merry Christmas, cher ami." It is no different in the old folks home than it is out here. Horizons change, and we must adjust, and grow, or face stagnation.
My own growth has been, at times, sporadic and slow, sometimes embarrassingly so. But thank God, we were designed with the capability to grow until we die, if we choose to. (We were designed to live until we die. Hmm, could that be sort of a Yogi Berra "yogism"?)
Having mentioned Yogi, and having googled him to make sure I spelled his name right, I'll leave you with these words of his:
First, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."
Second, "The future ain't what it used to be."
That's what good healthy growth will do for you, it will change your future.