I was watching “Julie & Julia” the other day when it dawned on me that the ever-so-remarkable Julia Child didn’t discover her fierce passion for cooking until she landed in Paris with little other to do than wander markets and make lovely meals for her diplomat husband. She discovered fame, fortune and her sense of purpose considerably later than say, Lance Armstrong, Billy Graham, or Stevie Wonder.
Probably because it is hot and my sleep patterns have once again have me wonky, flip flopping and up at 2 am thinking of essays I’d like to write — I’ve been pondering about what makes life remarkable. Is it a commitment to family? Is it becoming a spouse and parent? Is it seeing your name in lights on Broadway or on the New York Times Best Seller’s List? Is it winning gold at the Olympics, finishing a marathon at tortoise pace or learning how to bake a loaf of bread? Is it growing a garden, learning a new language, or having one of those moments of grace where you finally — after staring at the same verses for years — get it?
I don’t have any answers. But I am certain I want my life and purpose to be remarkable. Above average. The over-achieving end of the bell curve. I don’t think saying so is brash hubris. If you don’t want to be remarkable, something tells me you aren’t paying attention.
For me, remarkable doesn’t mean fame or fortune. It also isn’t defined by a family I create, but more by the family I have and how I nurture them. (The creation part is out of my hands; let’s be honest — if I could wiggle my nose genie style for a dozen little ones, I would. I will not, however, spend any more time feeling like my value is less because this magical wiggling hasn’t occurred. Not my choice. Not my doing. Not my guilt.) Being remarkable isn’t about being on Broadway, best-selling anything or the size of my waist.
Instead, I’m giving myself a new set of challenges as a reminder of what my very version of this word means. It includes continuing to nurture a successful garden in the heat of Phoenix. (Damn remarkable) It also means pushing myself in endurance races — half marathon scheduled for this fall. It means continuing to work on relationships that are so very, very difficult and draining because the remarkable love regardless. It also means finding the supernatural state of patience I am able to tap into when I see a stranger or animal in need, and applying this level of blind kindness and caring to other areas of my life that are simply a regular source of annoyance.
There are other forms of remarkable too — like finding the focus to sit down to write after a long day behind a computer, saving money instead of mindless shopping for a quick high of consumer satisfaction, being more careful with my words and complaints, eating slower, swimming faster, reading more, etc.
I know there is a remarkable version of me in here somewhere. I used to know her well. She’s slipped away for a much more comfortable and apathetic existence that is gross. I keep thinking of my friend Shailesh who told me, “Good is the enemy of great.”
The never-ending quest to be better continues.