exceptional mediocrity

May 15, 2016 § Leave a comment

At this stage of my life I no longer seek thrills. I no longer seek variation for the sake of change. I have weathered many changes, and still more to come. I no longer wish for change. Rather, I wish for a median. I seek mediocrity.

This morning I ate the same breakfast that I designed years ago. I balance nutritional benefit with gustatory pleasure, ease of preparation with responsible budget and carbon footprint. I have settled for a perfect combination that I look forward to eating every morning when I get up. I do not want a variety of different foods for breakfast. I don’t get bored of the breakfast I have. Instead, I eat my combination of oats, granola, a few raisons, a few almonds, and milk with satisfaction.

I have spent a lifetime in the pursuit of exceptionality. Impelled by the belief that if I was exceptional my life would mean something. I believed that achievement of exceptionality would mean something. It would mean recognition, validation, respect, importance, belonging, connection, security, acceptance. I believed exceptional accomplishments would result in new interest and love from my father. I believed this new interest and love from my father would inspire my siblings to take an interest in me. To love me and appreciate me rather than taking it upon themselves to give me advice about how I could improve my life.

Each morning I make my coffee on my espresso machine. I boil the kettle to heat up my coffee mug. I grind the beans and tamp them. I fill the machine with fresh water and run it through its first cycle to heat up the machinery. I fill the milk jug to just the right height so that when it is steamed it fills the jug to the brim does not overflow. I pour the coffee into the mug and then fill the mug with the steamed milk. Every morning I enjoy my own abstract design of white milk foam and rich golden crema.

There are those who would say I have achieved some measure of exceptionality in my life. Modest by standards of fame and fortune, but exceptional in terms of courage, persistence, hard headedness. With each of these accomplishments, each of which could be seen to escalate over time to achieve greater and greater recognition (albeit in small, exclusive circles) I was perplexed to realize nothing had changed in relation to my father. It didn’t seem to matter what I accomplished, at what cost of time, energy, personal security or financial investment. Whatever exceptionality I was finally able to achieve in my lifetime, it did not change the indifference, the disregard, the outright diminishment, my father conveyed to me through word and deed.

With my coffee in hand I play a computer game that has seen me through many difficult times. I enjoy the smooth warm bitter sweetness of the coffee and milk with my feet stretched out beside my sleeping dog. My husband kisses me briefly before heading off for his weekly singing gig. The dishwasher churns in the background. I am surrounded by a house that needs cleaning and renovating. The grounds need landscaping. I need to remember to get laundry loaded into the machines. I need to put away clean laundry. I need to make progress on my chair repair.

Whatever I have achieved in this life, I have failed to make a dent in my father’s consciousness. Perhaps one of my most exceptional accomplishments in this life has been to grieve the reality of a father who has been unable to love me over the time of my entire life. In being able to grieve that absence, I have found the strength and inspiration to live a good life and love my own children, my husband, my mother, and my siblings, and to build truly supportive relationships with each one. Today, in my modest morning routine, I am able to give myself the love that I have longed for, yearned for, these many decades. Instead of being filled with resentment and bitterness, I am filled with love and contentment.

At this stage of my life I no longer seek the thrill of a loving father affirming my worth and exceptionality. I don’t need to make any major changes in the hopes that this one, final change, will bring me the attention and validation that I have craved all my life. My median is a quiet Sunday morning filled with loving attention to my home, my husband and my dog. I can let my absent father go, I no longer need his panoptic gaze to validate my life choices.

For me, this is truly an exceptional accomplishment.

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