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  • Writer's pictureErin Chandler

What Today Brings

“You never achieve success unless you like what you are doing.” – Dale Carnegie

What is a day well spent, a day worthy of praise? Whether it be volunteering at a local high school doing your best to guide a few teenagers in the right direction, driving across the country in a U-Haul, or working at Macy’s on Black Friday, we all feel gratified after a hard day’s work. For someone who has chosen an unusual vocation, which often consists of not being employed in the conventional sense, I work really hard. When I’m not accomplishing something, I feel like I am not only wasting my time but my life. The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are always a bit sticky for me. The clock stops ticking, at least it seems to.

I had a stepfather that could not possibly have understood me less, his work ethic was extraordinary, and also extraordinarily ordinary. Paul August Knipping, PHD, simply put, saw work as labor for money. If you worked all day at a grocery store, a Harley Davidson shop, or like him as a teacher, you were good. If you worked on a poem all day like e.e. cummings, you were a lazy a-hole.

The man my mother married when I was ten never warmed to me, nor I to him. I remember visiting Kentucky in my twenties, I was living in California, Paul and my mom in Texas, he stood at my door yelling, “If we could just see some visible signs of improvement!” That comment he spat with venom will stick with me forever. I was trying my best to fashion a career as an actress and doing pretty well from my own point of view. I wasn’t making a lot of money but I was in a couple of movies, a few television shows and thousands of plays. He was a marine fighter pilot in World War II. Does that mean he wins? I’m sure his fellow marines would say absolutely so, but I know a few ballerinas who would beg to differ.

There are limitless ways to spend our lives. Refusing to accept this fact leaves us open to judgement. “Life is not fair,” my dad’s girlfriend used to say when I cried about something being unfair. I have grown to believe she is right. Love, wealth and health, mental or physical, are not doled out equally, one only needs to look around to see that. One thing that is distributed equally is point of view. We can make choices according to our individuality and be proud of those choices even if others are not. We can appreciate what we have as much as we envy or respect the gifts or blessings of someone else.

None of us will know if we lived up to our potential until it’s over. We won’t know what any of this is all about until we are on the other side and can view the whole mess with truly informed perspective. For now, I have dreams to fulfill. I also obviously have issues to resolve because just as Paul spent his life whining about his evil stepmother, here I am complaining about my evil stepfather. At least that’s one thing we have in common, neither of us quite grew out of our childhoods.

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