Garden of Steel Magnolias

Dreams from the trash

Although this ad is to encourage recycling, I started listening to the words. It transfixed me.  My family wondered why I was recording a recycling ad.  But listen with me: “They told me I was a piece of  trash and that is all I would ever be. . . a bottle couldn’t see the ocean . . . give up and go back to the dumpster.”

There are people told this every day.  I was one of them.  Not smart enough, not pretty enough, not important enough to have dreams. Dumb and ugly should know its place and stay there.  I refused, in little ways at first, but louder and bolder as I grew up.

It took years for me to dream, and more to feel I deserved to dream, but, much like that little plastic bottle, I have gotten there.

I wonder if the creators of the ad had any thought of deeper layers in  the words–of talking about people as well as plastic.  Life is recycling, after all, changing, growing, re-inventing oneself.

Am I  odd  alone in seeing this ad and thinking of all the “disposable” people in the world? Is it just my childhood memories coloring my vision?


Chasing Success

Eleanor Roosevelt, power of dreams
From Brainy Quote

In the interesting juxtaposition that often happens in life, I ran across this quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt on the same day that my academic writing group had the following topic: What does success mean for you in the context of your Work, not of the employment or study within which you do that work?”

For most academics, research ends up taking the back seat to the more immediate demands of the job: syllabi, grading, office hours, and less so, committees, administration, and University or College service.  Thus, for most of the group, “Work” equals “Research.” For me, part of “Work” is my scholarly research, but a large part of it is the “off-the-clock” writing. I do find myself chasing success in the day job, which has its merits but is not fulfilling in the same way that my Work would be. I guard against falling headfirst into that rabbit hole by reminding myself that the day job does not reflect the “real me,” but merely something that I do well that pays reasonably well

The existence of public and private selves has set up a dissonance in my life, analogous to the harmonic resonance that shatters crystal. I’ve never been good at keeping the “important, but not urgent” goals in the forefront, finding myself far more persuaded by the “urgent, but not important” that pays my bills. I tend to say, “when I have a sabbatical,” or “when I retire,” which is less and less satisfying.

I’m finally to the point where my fear of failing is less than my fear of never trying.  As for my  ROW80 goals: slow and steady wins the race. I keep falling down, but I keep picking myself up, more importantly.  Excelsior!

What does success mean for you?

Please go visit some of the participants here. We’re headed into the dreaded middle of the challenge, which is almost as boggy as the middle of a WIP.