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Up from the clothes chute

Reflections on roads not taken

Published April 16, 2006

I was sitting on my patio, watching the water, contemplating my life, when the thought struck me that I had always wanted to be a nightclub singer in an upscale lounge.

As it turned out, I became a mother, a housewife and a teacher. I loved all of those jobs and found them very rewarding. However, I still picture myself, at times, lying across the top of a piano, in a slinky dress, belting out the blues.

Today if I tried that, they would probably think I was Phyllis Diller, but I'd still like to try.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I pictured myself as the great American writer. I wrote a novel called Growing Down that has never been published, but I have pictured myself being interviewed on shows like Oprah.

This thought led me to ask people in our community if they actually achieved the profession they thought they wanted earlier in life. The results were pretty much like my own. It was the road not taken. But I came up with some astonishing answers to the question, "If you could have been anything in life, what would it have been?"

A former secretary of schools really wanted to be a nun. I guess she just decided it wasn't the best habit to get into. Her husband, who was in the service, wanted to be a race car driver. (Remind me not to go anywhere with him in a car!)

My husband, who owned a furniture store and played in a rock band (but not at the same time), has always dreamed of being a promoter for rock concerts. He is still trying to get his favorite band, Little Feat, somewhere closer to our area. They have performed in Tampa and St. Petersburg, but not anywhere in Crystal River.

His other wish was to be a sportscaster. He has the voice for it, and he certainly watches enough sports on TV! He now sells manufactured homes.

I talked to another woman who was a medical secretary. She still wants to be an anthropologist and reads books on the subject quite regularly. She likes studying human nature and has determined that we are all really very much alike. All she would have to do is study some of us in our over-55 community. Now there is anthropology!

I know a man who is a perfectionist at golf. He doesn't take it lightly when he misses a shot. He expects a lot from his golf game. He made trophies for a living but since has retired and decided that he should have taught golf or been a caddy for one of the pros on the professional tour. As I look at it, it is never too late!

Then there was the former firefighter who has always wanted to own his own business. When I asked what kind of business, he replied, "a thriving business."

I have a friend who is very good at medical problems. She seems to know all there is about what medication to take and what is ailing you. She had the opportunity to become a nurse but was so busy raising children that she didn't follow through. Now she is sorry, but doesn't regret being a mom even though she had many jobs while they were growing up, including working at a Wal-Mart.

From what I can see, most people do not go on to be what they had originally thought they wanted to be. I guess it is the old theory of reality. We have to make the money for our families and for ourselves. What we want to do doesn't always coincide with our true ambitions.

My son set his sights on being a computer animator. He graduated top in his class in college. He is now a stay-at-home dad and loves every minute of it. His wife teaches, and this works out great for them. But he is not animating. Well, his personality is, but that is not his profession for the moment.

Some people are lucky enough, or not so lucky, to end up with the job they have always wanted. I talked to one woman who wanted to be a mother and a housewife. That's what she did, and she is happy she did it. I have a friend who worked in the accounting department at a hospital, but she always wanted to be a chef. She almost got her wish. She now cooks for one of the Citrus County schools. Maybe you couldn't quite call her a chef, but she still cooks.

Another friend told me he wanted nothing more than to be in the service and fight for his country in a war. He got his wish and ended up in Korea. He discovered that people shoot at you in a war. He didn't like it as much as he thought he would, but he is still proud to have served his country. He became a salesman who sold everything from vacuum cleaners, encyclopedias and rubber stamps to houses. Now that's living dangerously!

I have always believed that your hobby should never become your profession. The thing we love to do in our spare time should be relaxing. If you do it as a profession, it soon becomes just another job.

I guess you can say I have been very fortunate. I have been able to teach and mold the future of our country (I hope), raise children and love almost every minute of the job (notice I said almost). I may not have the great American novel in the book stores, but I still get to write.

As for singing on top of a piano? Well, I do get my opportunity to perform on occasion. (That profession doesn't look nearly as glamorous as it once did.) So that takes care of that!

Where my road leads me next, I don't know. I do know I don't want to be an astronaut. I'm afraid of heights!

[Last modified April 16, 2006, 00:42:15]

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