I wrote the following last month, but never had the chance to post it. Synchronicitous procrastination, perhaps, as I was recently reproached for doing this very thing – my ruler, their life. A misunderstanding; that wasn’t my mindset at all, but still a gentle reminder to walk my talk. Fences mended, yet the irony is not lost on me.
My first yoga teacher, Marlene, would often read this quote during savasana at the end of class. It stuck with me because Emerson equates my contributions to this world as equal to those who have taken a more traditional route. A belief you may dispute, but, then again, your belief is your own measuring stick, not mine. They are not interchangeable.
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Smarter humans than you have made a similar mistake – a very public, very expensive, very embarrassing mistake. I’m sure you’ve heard about the 1999 disaster of the Mars Climate Orbiter that burned up in Mars’ atmosphere. A NASA review board found that the problem was in the software controlling the Orbiter’s thrusters. The builder of the Orbiter, those clever engineers at Lockheed Martin Astronautics, calculated the force of thrust needed in pounds (The English or “Imperial” measurement) while the equally brilliant team over at JPL used the standard metric form – millimeters, meters, and newton-seconds. The result? 125-million dollars’ worth of Orbiter toast. The lessons? Many, but for my purpose, “Don’t measure me with your ruler.”
Just because I chose not to have children doesn’t mean I haven’t contributed to this world. What is an appropriate use of a life – to sacrifice individual potential, hopes, and dreams for another person – and teach them to do the same, the snake eating its tail – or to explore our own possibilities, our own potential, and nurture ourselves? Yes, your child may grow up to be President…but, then again, you could have, too. Just because I choose to live alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely. I’d rather do what I want, when I want with whom I want, than be trapped in a claustrophobic, tension-filled, lackluster union of convention. There’s only one marriage I admire – and it’s not yours. Just because I don’t have religion does not mean I lack a moral compass. I intrinsically know the difference between right and wrong and have compassion for the suffering of others. I don’t need 10 written rules to tell me so. Just because my house is small and well within my means doesn’t mean it is not a home. I don’t require a better zip code to build a sanctuary of peace, warmth, and joy. Just because my career doesn’t look important on paper doesn’t mean I’m not changing lives. My job is to bring joy and happiness to others – a lofty goal that makes me proud when I accomplish it. Just because I didn’t take a path of higher education doesn’t mean I’m not as smart as you. My teachers are varied and many. Just because my life is in stark contrast to yours, that doesn’t mean I regret my choices.
Don’t measure my life with your ruler.
Moroccan Carrot Salad
This simple, easy-to-throw-together salad shone at a recent gathering, adding an exotic flair to the standard backyard barbeque.
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lbs. carrots, halved lengthwise and cut diagonally into ½-in pieces
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic, cumin and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk in oil mixture.
- Steam carrots about 8 minutes until crisp-tender. Add warm carrots to bowl, sprinkle with parsley and cilantro, and toss to coat. Serve at room temperature.