All the elements in your body were forged many many millions of years ago in the heart of a faraway star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings. Until, eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe. - Doctor Who, The Rings of AkhatenThere are times in life when you see people surpass you who started at the same point you did or maybe a little behind. There are also times when you see someone being successful at the life you thought you would have. It is difficult not to compare yourself to them. It is difficult not to say, "That could be me." We all know that we are unique with our own blend of talents and shortcomings. We all know that we shouldn't compare ourselves to others. But how do we embrace that uniqueness?
I was listening to my iPhone shuffle through all of the music uploaded to it when Ready to Hang by Wayman Tisdale came on. I probably met Wayman at some point since we went to the same high school but I couldn't tell you if he would have recognized me or not. He and my older sister were in the same class and knew each other well enough that Wayman once recognized my brother, who is one year younger than my sister, when Wayman walked past my him on an airplane. He stopped and asked my brother something like, "Aren't you Mary's brother?"
I was thinking about that story, that my brother likes to tell, and it got me to thinking about Wayman's life. He was a basketball star in high school, college and in the NBA. He even went to the Olympics. Wayman went on to have a music career and released eight albums. At one point I learned that he had taught himself how to play the bass... and he was pretty good at it. In 2007 he was diagnosed with cancer and had part of his leg amputated in 2008. He died in May of 2009.
I was reflecting on all of this: All of the amazing things he had done in his life despite it being cut short. Of course I'm no Wayman Tisdale. My star does not shine nearly as bright and it likely never will. What I want, however, is to be remembered as having done something with my life.
That's when it hit me: We can't all be the bright star in the sky but we can all shine in our own way. The trick is to find your own greatness. It doesn't matter that someone does something faster or better than you.
I was trying to finish that thought by saying, "What does matter..." but I'm not sure exactly what that is yet. I think that's part of what I'm looking for. This is just the first, tiny step and I hope I don't get distracted from this path. I need to find my greatness. I might already have it or it may be completely unrealized and yet to come. I have a friend that calls it Grabbing the Starfish. She explains it as "Knowing and working towards that one thing that you are supposed to be doing with your life." It sounded like a thousand other existential platitudes but I think I get it now.
Stay tuned. I'll probably bring you along for the ride.