This was first written in 2003, when I was about 44 years old. Since this writing, I opened my own catering business, ran that for a few years, then "retired" and moved on, becoming a monthly columnist for a cake magazine. I also enrolled at college to get my degree to become a history teacher.
And to think "I Thought I'd Missed It".
Well past my fortieth birthday but long before I turned 50, I started to look over the various life choices I had made. I guess most people do that at some point in their lives. We think of our dreams and ambitions and wonder what might have been. We think about the things we missed and we spend a few minutes regretting the time forever gone and the inability to go back and do some things over.
As I looked back, I thought about the many things I felt that I had missed or missed out on. But then I slowly realized that I didn’t miss as much as I thought.
I thought I had missed becoming a teacher, something I had wanted to do since I was a second grader. I wanted to stand in front of a classroom full of kids and share my passion for reading, for history and for logically figuring out a complicated math problem.
I thought I’d missed doing that.
But then I remembered telling my kids that “….if you can read, you can cook” and teaching them how to follow a recipe; teaching them to read the instructions in a logical way to make it easy to understand. I remembered teaching them the history of my favorite dishes and why they were my favorite.
I remembered all of the new people at work who I shared my knowledge with and showed them how to perform their new job and where to find the information. I remembered teaching them the “why” (the “history”) behind a function so they would understand the logic behind it, so they would understand the entire concept, not just their small portion. I remembered that I wrote the manuals and the training programs and eventually ended up traveling all over the country and standing in front of small classrooms of sales people and teaching them how to sell my product.
Teaching……and I thought I’d missed it.
I thought I’d missed my chance to be a writer, to bring out not just the next Great American Novel, but THE great American novel. I thought about seeing my name in print in the bookstores and on the best seller list.
Then I remembered all of the times that I saw “written by…..” next to my name. I saw it once a week in a local paper when I wrote a wedding advice column. I saw it on poems I had written years ago that somehow managed to survive past those high school years when I doodled them out during some boring class time. I saw some of those poems hit a special “best seller” list when my daughter, then a teenager, chose MY poems to take to class and share with her friends. I remembered the family cookbook I was putting together to record and teach my family and their families about their family history. I thought about all of the company cookbooks, my husband’s campaign brochures, newsletters I worked on and the untold work tutorials that I wrote. I thought about the volumes of family history I had recorded for my kids and grandkids, so they would know their family, their heritage and their history.
Writing…..and I thought I had missed it.
I thought about the dream that most of us have about achieving fame and fortune; about being the star on the stage. Then I remembered the year I won the 1991 Mrs. Rose Queen Pageant and my stage was all of Wayne County, Indiana. I thought about the parades I was in, the stages I walked across, the radio interviews I had and I realized that a lot of people who run to Hollywood for that sole purpose, sometimes never achieve anything close to what I experienced.
I remembered all of the times I stood in front of a group of people that could range from 5 to 35 and taught them about how to sell a power cord. I was on stage….I was teaching….I was passing out a program I had written.
I thought about the fun times we have with a karaoke machine, our stage a garage and our fame limited to our family. And I thought about the people who never even take the chance to pick up a microphone just for the fun of it.
The “Star On Stage”……and I thought I missed it.
I always envied those people with artistic talent and I wanted to be one of those creative people. I recalled my short stint at drawing, but it was too much work. I resigned myself to think that I’d never have one of my paintings hanging next to the Mona Lisa, or have one of my art pieces take top dollar at a big art auction house.
But then I remembered all of the wedding cakes I created and I realized that maybe cake icing was my canvas. And while I couldn’t pick out colors to paint my kitchen, I could create a catering event that was an artistic masterpiece. I realized that my creative side was perhaps just slow to surface as I began creating wreaths out of pine cones and flags out of crochet thread.
So as I contemplate turning 50 and start reviewing where I’ve been and looking to where I’m going, I realize that sometimes we are so busy looking for the one “big break” that we don’t even realize we participated in the little opportunities that came along while we weren’t looking. We spend our time remorsefully thinking about what we wanted to do and completely overlook the great treasures and little adventures in what we actually did do.
Regret for the things we have done can be tempered by time. It is regret for the things we have NOT done that is inconsolable. ..... Sydney J. Harris