Tuesday, 26 February 2008

N = Never

When you’re young, anything seems possible. I seemed to spend my childhood filled with excitement for the future. My mother and father grew up in that small rural district, married, had children, joined in community affairs, sat on the School Boards, ferried us to and from sports events, music lessons, girl guides, etc. But despite rarely leaving the area, they never allowed us to feel restricted, hemmed in, or limited. Not in that cheesy, TV movie, American (no offence intended) kind of “you can do anything you want if you just believe in yourself” way. Opportunity was always implied, but unstated. We were never discouraged from aspiring to things.

Of course I was lucky. I was born in an age when, for the first time in history, being a girl was not a disadvantage. Likewise I was at school and more importantly university when education was free. And I was lucky that things came easily to me. Schoolwork, music, sports, friends. There was no reason for me to think I couldn’t do things, because to be honest, there weren’t a lot of things as a child that I felt I couldn’t do. And I dreamed. Of owning and riding a horse. Of living in Wellington and meeting the Prime Minister. Of exotic travel, of glories. Winning Olympic medals and being in the Silver Ferns (the New Zealand netball team). Being Billie Jean King, as I hit my tennis ball against our house. Of money and good clothes. Of an exciting life.

Then you start getting older. You realise your dad is never going to buy you a horse. And even in your teens you start narrowing your options. I knew early on I would not be Miss World. That’s not something I regret, I’m pleased to say. Then gradually the other dreams fall away. The Olympic medals were never an option – winning school sports events was good enough. I knew too I’d never be a concert pianist. That was okay too, as I got tired of practising.

Then you graduate from university and start working. I realised some of my dreams were too small, but some were too big. I realised there were a lot of other talented people out there, and I would need to work hard.

Now in my forties, there are a lot more nevers, and they stack up more each day. Some of them are regrets. I’ll never have children. I’ll never see my dad again. These ones I deal with every day.

But there are definitely some nevers I can live with, relish, embrace:  

I won’t be Prime Minister or a politician. I’ll never run a marathon. Thank God to both.
I’ll never be a beauty, but never have to worry that noone will love me once my beauty is gone. It’s good to be comfortable in my own skin. 
I’ll never own a private jet, but will never have to feel the guilt of such elitism, not to mention environmental impact.
I’ll never bungy jump. Not. Negotiable.
I’ll never get back to my honeymoon bikini body. But I can be fit and healthy.
I’ll never be a Silver Fern and my knees will never allow me to re-enact that dream anymore, leaping light as air for that ball. 
 I’ll never make my fortune on the tennis circuit.
And, let’s face it I’ll never win Lotto unlike this guy.  (I even had a ticket in that lottery, dammit).

4 comments:

Mrs Slocombe said...

Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Bridgett said...

It's funny (or sad)--I was realistic even as a young child. I told my mom when I was in kindergarten that I thought I'd probably be a waitress, and she was angry at me--I was supposed to be something amazing. In the end, I wasn't a waitress, but I always had kind of low expectations for myself. But not in a pessimistic way. I just don't like being wrong or disappointed. It really didn't strike me until I read this. I never thought about the olympics or the symphony or the presidency.

Now, those more everyday mundane nevers, those I have pondered. But this is turning into my own N is for Never so I'll stop.

Helen said...

I never had a bikini body, much to my chagrin.

Indigo Bunting said...

Helen: That was the first thing I thought when I read that (about me though, not you).

Bridgett: I think we may have some similar qualities. I learned early on that one way to not be so desperately disappointed all the time was to stop expecting the best.