Cheryl Hughes: Membership
One night, I dreamed I was nearing the end of my life. I was asked what I wanted on my tombstone. I said, I knew there were words I had considered having engraved there, but I couldn’t remember what they were. As I tried to remember, growing more anxious as the minutes ticked by, my husband, Garey walked into the room and said, “There is no such thing as a normal life.” Those were the words. I woke up laughing. It was just like Garey to show up in my dream in order to remind me of something I couldn’t remember.
In my early marriage, I remember my new sister-in-law bragging on herself, saying she didn’t do any one thing exceptionally well, but she did several things in an average way, and she thought that was a lot better anyway. I thought she was an idiot. At that time in my life, I believed a person should pick one thing and excel at it. That will work if you pick one thing and it works out, but if you pick one thing and it doesn’t work out, you become a very frustrated person. I was a very frustrated person, mainly because what I defined as “normal life” kept getting in the way of trying to have an “exceptional life.”
About a year after my granddaughter, Sabria, was born, I finally gave up my ambition of having an “exceptional life.” I resolved myself to the fact that I would always have a normal life. That was before I came to the realization that there is no such thing as a normal life.
There is no steady climb from the cradle to the grave. It isn’t an upward arc that curves back down to the ground when our time on earth is done. The path looks more like an EKG test pattern on a person with A-fib. The path is all over the place.
Recently, I had the frustrating experience of trying to coordinate two friends trying to help each other out. The two are both my friends, but didn’t know each other. One had something for sale that the other one needed. I volunteered to be the go-between. I had one person’s money and was trying to arrange a meeting with the other one then coordinate a time to deliver the thing the first person was buying, all while trying to be back at my house in order to keep my granddaughter. The second person was late, which meant I was late with the delivery to the first person, which meant I was in a hurry after delivering the thing, which meant I didn’t see the picnic table I backed into, yadda, yadda, yadda.
On the way home to keep my granddaughter, I went on a rant, asking myself why I volunteered to do it all in the first place. “You’d think I’d have learned by now that no good deed goes unpunished,” I fussed. “I need to stop doing this stuff. Why do I do this stuff, anyway?” I asked.
The answer was simple—membership dues. We belong to the club called the Human Race. If you are part of this organization, there are dues to pay. The dues we pay guarantee that ne’er a one of us is going to have a normal life. If we go out of our way to help one another, we will get off of the beaten path. That’s the only normal thing about this life.