Today’s title is a quotation attributed to George Eliot. The only thing is that she probably never said it. In fact, one writer searched both her published works and personal correspondence in a fruitless search to find the sentence. Eliot aficionados would like for their favorite author to have this sunny, optimistic side. But, apparently, it’s not to be.
Still, I like the quote. And it does have a slight Eliot tinge to it. It doesn’t say we can be anything we want, but we can still be what we could have been in the first place. So it was never in the cards for me to be a famous musician, having been born with a tin ear, total lack of rhythm, and a singing voice that no one has ever asked to hear twice. But it is still possible for me to develop some talents that have been lying fallow for years.
Today, as I was walking on the track at the Y, I noticed that all the guys lifting weights had stopped and were gazing the television. I glanced over and saw that they were watching Tiger Woods on the golf course. It was only later that I learned that Woods had won the Masters, fourteen years after winning his last one. Those years had been filled with injuries, multiple surgeries, and rehabilitation. Yet he kept going because he felt that he was still a champion.
I know next to nothing about golf. I don’t play or watch it. I know about Tiger Woods because everyone knows about him. But there is something amazing and inspiring about someone willing to put in the work he did to make a comeback.
Of course, Woods couldn’t have done it if he hadn’t already been a great player. But sometimes it’s not because we’re good, but because we’ve failed that makes us want to be what we might have been. A famous writer was known as being the nicest man around. But someone told me that while his niceness was genuine, it came from a dark place. He had been an alcoholic, and many close to him had suffered. When he became sober, he determined that he would make up for it to the best of his ability. And the story was that he went out of his way not to cause pain or embarrassment to anyone.
Maybe this week, it’s time to look at the things we wanted to be and see if they are still options. I have a strong feeling that at least one or two are out there waiting for us to remember them and start anew.