Sheltons Organic Turkey

if I empty out all the unimportant stuff here, maybe there'll be more room in my head for important things

name: shelton brett
location: western u.s.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Schmidt's lament

I know the movie "About Schmidt" wasn't for everybody, but for me it was one of those pictures that got better the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th time I saw it. Especially poignant was the part near the beginning where he narrates his thoughts about what the future held for him as a young man. Paraphrasing, he felt that destiny had hand-picked him to do something special in this world. That somehow he had the feeling that he would accompish something special in his time on earth, that he was tapped by fate to do something [anything] great.

As the movie goes on, we quickly come to realize that a successful stint as an actuary for a large insurance company, a caring wife and an emotionally distant daughter, don't exactly measure to his adolescent expectations of his time on earth. I don't want to argue that being a father or a productive member of society is "important" or "special" in its own right.

Instead, I'm wondering how common is this feeling? Do most people grow up with this same notion? I completely relate to having this feeling as a young man, progressing through school and wondering exactly how destiny had picked me to do something great. As I continued into college, I admit I referenced this feeling less and less, perhaps because I felt that the approaching day must be getting ever closer to where "it" would happen. I would know how my great influence on the world would be felt. Yet I personally knew it wasn't any closer, didn't feel it was right around the corner from me, and even worse I didn't know how to take myself there.

In reflection, these lost feelings of missing destiny's calling might have been part of what took me back into graduate school, thus prolonging my chances yet a few more years to realize what great gift I was supposed to bestow on society. At what point in life do people resign themselves to what they are, or accept what they will be? That perhaps destiny did not tap your shoulder? That you are instead simply one of the vast majority who is to ride in the oceanic tides of human existance, just bobbing along with all the others, letting external forces dictate all of what happens to you and everyone around you?

And more importantly, how are you supposed to feel when you finally accept that your realized existance is nowhere near your previously expected, unfulfilled calling? Is this a trick we play on ourselves, or is this the idea that someone long ago teaches us in the hope that some people, at some time or another, achieve their pre-progammed influences on the rest of society and pass through life altogether satisfied?

{originally posted on March 9, 2004}