I’ve been attending some local high school basketball games. Lots of teams, lots of players, but so far, not a single player is college material. They’re all high school average.
Once upon a time that was me down there, full of want-to, without the ability-to. Now I’m the ole dude up in the stands.
Somewhere this season, the seniors will play their last game, and that will be that. Soon they’ll begin adulthood, a different kind of game, with plenty of roles to be average at.
Talking In The Movie
There I was, watching a chick flick, latest version of Little Women, not only not a guy movie, but it might be more a little girl movie, but it got me anyway.
One of the characters is Amy March, who has artistic talent. She’s a big dreaming, big fish in the local pond, until she crosses the ocean, to Paris, where she’s exposed to early Impressionist art. In a brief scene you see several easels side by side, Amy’s good art, next to masterpiece art.
She announces that’s she giving up the paint and brushes. Someone counters, “Why should you, with so much energy and talent?”
To which she replies, “…because talent isn’t genius” (I in the audience made an audible oomph sound) “and no amount of energy can make it so.” (I ooomphed again.) “I want to be great, or nothing.” Oomph, oomph, oomph. “I won’t be a common place dauber, so I don’t intend to try anymore.”
I oomphed for all of us. We all have our Amy moments.
When Your Ceiling Is The Middle
The fundamental question for everyone is, “What are we supposed to do with our lives?” It’d be one thing, if we were child prodigies, the talent making the path clear, but what about the rest of us?
If I were God I’d at least try to be as fair as the Monopoly game, pass everybody out the same starter money. Instead, it’s so random. I used to get mad at God for not using common sense, but now I assume He’s high roading it using God sense.
There are two Bible passages that apply to this topic. One is the Parable of the Talents. Whatever God gave you, lot or little, best be making something of it.
Hand in hand are these words of Jesus that we’ve paraphrased into, “To whom much is given, much is required.” There’s an accounting up ahead.
Progress, Not Perfection
God didn’t give me an Einstein brain, but He expects me to make the most of the brain He gave me. I have my own little personal code, goes like this:
Behave like your life is a gift. Talents, personality, traits, inclinations, all the peculiars that make me this particular me, they are all a gift. I was intended to become me. So become.
I am free. I can do nothing, or do something. I can do good or do bad. I can live like life has purpose, or sit ‘n quit.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a truth boiled down to three words – Progress, Not Perfection. That’s the human condition. Be pointed in the right direction, be earnest about it, measure the forward, forgive the backwards.
Use common sense. I’m bad at some things. I’m better at others. Why spend a bunch of time trying to turn a flaw into a strength? For instance, I’m more of an introvert than extrovert. I can’t fix that. If God wanted me to be an extrovert, He’d have made me one. What I need to do is identify my strengths, and invest in them. Where I’m naturally average, I could be good. Where I’m naturally good, I might up that to great. Summary: cooperate with your wiring. Play your best cards.
Listen to the conscience. It’s God’s text message.
Fit your britches. At my best, it’s still not enough. Surrender to God is not defeat, it’s the primal relationship. I am useful, even in my averageness, a tool hoping to be put in the hand of the Master Craftsman.
Too Many Jobs To Be Good At All Of Them
Marriage, parenting, friendship, caregiving: who among us excels at all, or even any…
Sometimes we’re better at different life stages. My mother’s prime mothering stage was when we kids were little. My sister, just the opposite.
And we can’t do like Amy March, and just stop, just because we’re not great at it.
Maybe that’s why God set it up this way. We’re never enough, without Him. In the surrender, we’re honest, aware of our limits, and we ask His help, like child to Father.
What I Learned From Basketball
The closest I ever came to addiction was basketball. I loved it. If you added up all the hours I spent hooping, it’d be years, plural. Like the average golfer who remembers the occasional eagle or the almost hole-in-one, I have some greatest hooping hits, like playing with pros, but on the whole, basketball was a place I hid…
Yes. I hid where I was average.
This thing you’re reading, this cooking of thoughts into words, this is where I should’ve invested my time, long ago.
I closed my business in June. I’ve been refueling. I have no pronouncements, except to say what I’ve said before, this writing thing I’m doing, this core piece of me, I don’t want to meet God and feel ashamed for never seeing what it could be.
My basketball past is actually of value. All those hours of shooting solo, the manual labor of it, shoot, go chase down the ball, get back in your spot, shoot again, it all applies to writing. You do and you do, and little by little you get better. Like muscle memory to a jump shot, so too goes the mind muscle, for getting a thought across.
What I have that Amy March doesn’t have, is being okay with not being genius. In a moment, I’ll be done typing. And then, I’ll proof this. It won’t be a masterpiece, but it’s good enough to go. And right at the end, I’ll mumble a few words – “Bread upon the waters” – which is code between God and I. I’ve done my little doing, and now, I surrender it to Him, to pollinate it as He chooses. It’s up to Him to make it above average, in effect.
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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is dedicated to the wonderful, common, universal, predicament of being average. We are a beloved army.
Uncle P can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.