26 May 2009

Great Potential

Maybe it was all the graduation stuff that reminded me of when I was young and everyone was saying how much potential we all had. It started in grade school, with teachers writing little notes in my report cards about how I did not work ‘up to my potential,’ which sounded both encouraging and condemning.

I had potential. Cool. What sort of potential though? And how much exactly? No one seemed to know, but no matter what I did it was not enough. ‘

Honestly, I was not a driven student. I did not arrive home each day eager for my homework, nor did I scamper to class each morning eager to go to class. In History and English and Music class I did well without even trying. In Science, Math, and French the hours were a torture. We’ll not talk about Phys. Ed.

Still people told me that I was not working ‘up to my potential,’ which obviously meant I was lazy. So I finished high school with a clear sense that I was innately lazy and unmotivated.

Nearly forty years later I still fear that potential has gone unmet, my laziness mitigated but not conquered. This I conclude from reading the local paper highlighted stellar graduates with 4.5 GPAs (extra credit and all) and hours of service and other accomplishments. My beloved Times tells me of hyperachievers like the author Bill Collins whose personal power of focus is laserlike and pure, and the Rev. A. R. Bernard in my former town of Brooklyn who has built a church of 30,000 from 100 back in 1980.

Was that my potential? Have I wasted my chance for excellence? Something deeply planted in the brain says I have failed in some way, though nothing among the facts of my life would support it. How odd, this mind we have. It gives us the dreams and hopes that make life worth living, and then prevents most of us from fulfilling those same dreams and hopes.

Of course, writing this post is just another way to waste time isn’t it?

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