Friday, January 15, 2010
Living a life triumphantly unnoticed
I've struggled what to blog to note Wil's 18th birthday. I want a story that is uniquely Wil. As most moms have learned, you can raise your kids exactly alike; yet they still turn out to be different. So it has been with my two kids, and it seemed that what came easily for Jen, Wil sometimes struggled with. I recall vividly the night of Jen's eighth grade sports night where she came home loaded down with awards. It was the same day Wil found out he didn't make the cut for Little League (or one of those competitive baseball divisions). Still, as Jenny's biggest fan, he hid any disappointment he might have felt as he supported her triumphs.
I believe that is one of Wil's most endearing qualities; to be comfortable in his own skin, to not need fuss or attention or recognition, to work with no thought of reward. To be a Michael Collins.
In 1969, the Columbia Missourian newspaper interviewed Michael Collins, the third astronaut joining Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, after their historic trip to the moon.
"While the world breathlessly watched and listened for the moon walk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Mike Collins cruised in orbit overhead. His job was to undertake emergency action if something went wrong, or to pick them up from the lunar module for the return to Earth if everything went right.
"His great achievement -- his fondest hope -- is to be triumphantly unnoticed."
It is easy to become discouraged when the lion's share of the attention falls on one or two. Some folks seem made for attention. They thrive on it, work better in the midst of it. But all the attention in the world wouldn't have helped Neil Armstrong get back to earth if Michael Collins had decided to grab a little attention of his own and fly on home without him.
We need the Michael Collins in this world.
We need the Neil Armstrong's too, but too often, while the Armstrong's are retelling their stories to whomever will listen, the Collins' of the world are still out there plugging along, doing their work, "triumphantly unnoticed."
Sometimes we forget that.
Sometimes we forget how important the little things we do are to people. I teach nutrition to children every Wednesday and Thursday, and every time I walk into their classroom, little children run up, hug my belly and tell me how happy they are to see me.
Am I changing the world? No.
Am I changing theirs? Yes, and you can bet they change mine every Wednesday and Thursday.
I'll never be famous.
I will never be Neil Armstrong, and that's okay.
Wil's choice to join the military is just another example of the way he's lived his life all along, but his unselfish actions will never go unnoticed by his loving mother. There is no greater compliment I hear than when people say "Wil's a good kid."
Happy Birthday to my Good Kid!