I did an interview this week, and the interviewer asked me a question I’ve been asked before and always trip over, “What is your ultimate goal?”
I assume he meant writing-wise, since that was the interview subject, but it wasn’t specifically stated. I had to put a hand over my mouth to keep from shouting random goals out into the universe, like: financial independence, bigger boobs, a faster split pace when I run, a walk-in closet, children that listen to what I say the first time I say it, the secret to my best friend’s killer lemon bar recipe, or maybe a car from this decade.
Eventually though, after thinking for a second, I said what I’m pretty near certain is the truth, “If it was only ever this, just what I have right now and nothing more, then that would have been more than enough.”
Part of me still struggles to admit this truth, though, because of course I have goals and dreams. Just recently I’ve been letting myself while away hours of insomnia by lying in bed and planning a book-launch party attended by my new bestie Oprah, where waiters serve from big trays of bacon-wrapped everything, and I drink just enough from the open bar to have incredible dance moves but not so much that I start pulling people aside and ugly-crying about how much I love them.
However, that’s just the stuff of silly dreams, and anyway, I don’t think having dreams means I can’t also appreciate the forest for the trees. Because if it only just was me here throwing thoughts onto a page and sharing them with you, and you sharing yours back with me, what an incredible and wonderful gift that would be in the end.
It’s not just the writing, it’s everything.
Take my parenting. I mean, sure I would love to be better (so much better) at motherhood. I wish I was more patient, played more, served more nutritious meals, had the resources and the energy to take us to interesting and educational places, and to get my daughter to stop wearing that one stained shirt every single day.
Yet if it was only just this, if it was only just me doing my mediocre half-assed best while serving up orange-powder macaroni, wearing last night’s pajamas and yesterday morning’s makeup, wouldn’t it still have been the most amazing thing I’ve ever done, hands down? Wouldn’t it still have been full to bursting with incredible moments of breathtaking beauty? Wouldn’t it still have been the truest love?
Or how about my marriage? Good God, there’s an awful lot of room for improvement in my wifing skills. Just ask my husband. For example, I could stay awake past the kids’ bedtime and spend some actual time with him. Or we could plan outings together where we have idle time for conversation that isn’t 100 percent about the children and doesn’t take place in stolen 10 second interludes in between emergencies.
Except, if this was all we ever had, if it never went beyond raising these babies together and being lucky enough to have made a life with someone who loves the same people I love with the same irrational craziness I have, then wouldn’t that have been more than enough? Wouldn’t it have been the stuff of romance novels, the epilogue that happens after the drama dies down, the happily-ever-after?
Then there’s my body. What if this was it? What if I never get skinny enough again to fit into the jeans I insist on holding on to, even though they have just as much of a chance of being worn again as Oprah does of actually doing the Thriller dance with me? What if this is as perky as my boobs are going to be, or the smallest my waist is going to get, or the easiest waking up in the morning is going to be from here on out? Can that be enough? Or will it only be enough later, like it is now when I look back on pictures of myself when I was younger and think, “Oh Liz. What an idiot you were to be wasting your time worrying about any of that nonsense when you had no idea how good you had it, you big fat dummy.”
The thing about this truth is it works everywhere. My writing, my parenting, my marriage, my health, my career, my hair, my bank accounts, even my house. Sure, I’d love a cleaner and more modern place where the decor is more shabby-chic and less “my kid smeared poop on the wall,” but to look around at a place filled with the beautiful chaos of love and not see it as the gift that it truly is would be as silly as looking around at a life filled with the same and somehow coming up wanting more.
Here’s the real truth: If it was only ever this, only this and nothing more, then that would have been more than enough. It would, in fact, be everything*.
*Except Oprah. Still need her.
This post originally appeared here on the author’s website.