After all, I was the guy who stayed up all night before a paper was due the next day, and still got an A. Zorro with a capital Z, written across the sky by a daredevil pilot.
By contrast, my friend in the apartment across the hall chipped away at her work and finished at a reasonable hour. She even found time to bake fresh bread in her tiny gas range, bring me a steaming slice slathered with butter and her mother’s strawberry jam, and a pot of strong Kenyan black tea. She shook her head and smiled as she walked back across the hall to her warm bed. I would not see my own until the following afternoon.
I envied my friend’s sense of proportion. She got her work done, and still found time to live her life in a way that included other people. I knew that I was pushing my own life away from me, keeping any sense of fulfillment at arm’s length. And with every grand, desperate gesture, I made sure it stayed there.
I gave the world a story that I did my best work under pressure. That I was a thoroughbred with intense energy levels who needed a challenge before I’d show up. After all, who wants to see a thoroughbred walk around a track? The truth was that behind every dramatic, last-minute lean across the finish line, I gave myself the narrowest possible window for fulfillment.
Why did I devote so much energy to keeping myself from what I wanted? The answer – someone in me did not feel he deserved it. Could not sustain it.
Because he wasn’t enough.
Photo credit: Michael Sendbuehler