Measuring up

Think of all the ways something can be measured. With a ruler. Measuring tape. Thermometer. Pressure gauge. Scale. A calculating gaze, as if at a crowd to determine the size. Stretching out your arms (the fish that got away was THIS big). Or your thumb and forefinger (I only drank THIS much wine).

Children stand against the wall so their parents can make marks on the wall to measure how fast they’re growing. We stick our heads out the door to decide how cold it is, and how many layers of clothes we need to wear. We heft a box filled with books to determine if it’s too heavy to carry.

But there are other, more subtle measurements. We look at the car someone drives, the clothes they wear, the job they do. How they speak, eat, live. What their habits are, who their friends are. But these are subjective measurements. It’s hard to measure an inch incorrectly. It’s easy to judge someone incorrectly.

But it’s what we do, to decide our place in the world. If we have a grasp on what’s around us, we know where and how – and if – we fit. Sometimes I wonder how a person can live in the same place, do the same job for months and years and decades. It would be easy to say that they’re stuck in a rut, not adventurous, not creative, too scared to live.

But there’s another way to look at it. Those people know where they fit. They’ve measured the world, and found their place in it. Remember the Desiderata? “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” (That’s a great poem. I might have to post it tomorrow, for those of you unfamiliar with it.)

It all comes down to your measuring stick. You really shouldn’t measure anyone else with your yardstick – at least to criticize them. And vice versa. My life looks insane to many of you. But as hard as I try to measure up to your yardstick, I always fail. Because my yardstick looks different than yours. What is normal to me is completely out of the realm of your experience. And vice versa. If someone told me I had to do the same job for the next 20 years, I’d run screaming. Then again, if someone told you you were going to move every 6 months, YOU’D probably run screaming.

Anyway, to those of you who accept me for who I am, thank you. I love it when you shrug and say, “That’s just the way you are.” I wasn’t always this way. And I won’t always be. But right now, it’s me and Popeye. I yam what I yam. Always growing, always learning, always looking around that next corner, or toward that distant horizon.

Thanks for taking this journey with me! And for leaving your yardstick in the closet…

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8 Responses to Measuring up

  1. Deb D. says:

    see my comment on “sailboats & harbors”. Keeping the “average” to math and not to people’s lives.

    So keep eating your spinach and keep “growing and learning”. That should be the goal for each of us!

  2. pat says:

    Oooohhhhh, I know I would run kicking and screaming if I were moving as often as you…I have moved 59 times in 51 years, and I ain’t doing it again. They will have to drag me out of my condo, unless I am ready for the proverbial dirt nap…then I guess I won’t care anymore! Don’t know how you do it, but I love READING about your moves. All of my moves from now on will be virtual, and yours will be the most fun, I am sure. Keep on keeping on, Beth…it seems to be working for you just fine!

  3. Julie says:

    Yes, people are born different, with different personalities, desires, gifts and talents. Thank goodness we are, because we need the differences to make up the whole! Most of us probably fit in the middle of the bell curve, but it wouldn’t be a bell curve if we didn’t have both ends. Those people who have found themselves, doing in life what is their passion and using their strengths and gifts, are truly Blessed. They have nothing to regret. That’s what I think. 🙂

  4. Jason R. says:

    And then there are those of us that do both B. Yes, I am moving yet again, to the Muscatine office this time. That’s the same job for 20 years but moving for the 17th time. Five of those being from one state to another. Ugh. Maybe this time I will unpack.

    • Beth says:

      Maybe if you unpack you’ll get to stay for a while, J! Amazing you’ve been in that job for that many years…at least you have the packing and moving down! Hope you’re happy in the new spot. Nice to hear from you, and know you’re still out there!

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