What If?

This morning, waking up from a night of strange dreams–lost to the netherworld now–my fiance and I lingered in bed drinking coffee and watching the Early Show on CBS. This is so far removed from our normal lives, lives filled to the brim with work, house tasks and animal care (one large hairy german shepard and a fluffy, not fat, 11 year old cat), that it was some time before we (I) realized what we were watching wasn’t The Early Show at all.

It was Jane Pauley. Jane Pauley, for the uninitiated, is the former Early Show anchor, and…wife of Pulitzer prize winning cartoonist, Garry Trudeau, of Doonesbury fame. So, sue me for not knowing ABC from CBS from NBC. I know the WB…especially when Smallville is on!

Back to the cozy bedroom…even in the chill of the early morning, before the heat has kicked in. Tom and I are reading the paper, at least HE is reading the paper. I’m fixated on Jane Pauley and Tom Brokaw, her one and only guest. Finally, I turn to Tom and say, “I could have been Jane Pauley.”

I could have been. Except for lack of opportunity.

According to Merriam-Webster Online, “opportunity is: 1. a favorable juncture of circumstances; 2. a good chance for advancement or progress.”

Where was my “favorable juncture of circumstances?” I have to ask myself. Did I ever have “a good chance for advancement or progress?”

I would submit that I never had a favorable juncture nor a good chance, at anything. Woe is me. Poor Yvonne. When I turned to Tom this morning and commented, a bit jealously, I admit, that I could have been Jane Pauley, or Joan Lunden, what I meant was that life had cheated me out of the success I could have been. Life, or Fate, or whathaveyou, had never given me a break… and it didn’t seem fair.

Except…the reality is quite different. One can play the ‘what if’ game for hours, wallowing in self-pity. However, eventually the “half of life is…if” adage pops up and one has to admit…opportunity is always there. Chance and good fortune come to us all, at some point in time. Whining and blaming others, whether family members or friends, moaning the useless refrain, “If only this, if only that” is the wasted half of life.

Tom had a perfect reply to my frowing statement. Knowing me as well as he does, he said, “You wouldn’t have been happy being Jane Pauley. She’s an announcer, an anchor, not a writer. You’re a writer.”

So it is. I am a writer. I come to the fame of it (the world, if we trust Google, compliments me with 7,620 mentions over more than 25 pages) a little later in life than I’d hoped, but…with a certain satisfaction. I created the opportunity. I did not let chance or fate get in my way. I stumbled, fell, and rose again, to pursue the dream I had of being published…of having my work count for something. It may have taken longer than I wished–though, one must account for the 15 years I took off to raise children and finish school, graduating Magna Cum Laude from SUNY Brockport–and I may not be on the same path–my first love is fiction, what I write now is business-oriented articles. But, I’m here. I have arrived. And Jane Pauley has nothing on me!

Nor you. I submit that the desire to succeed is strong in us all. That opportunity is always around the corner. That chance has little influence, unless you allow it to have influence.

I submit that the woman at the checkout counter in my local supermarket is a shining success–if she allows herself to be. I submit that the kid who works on my car at Jiffy Lube is a success, perhaps on the way to other things, or content to be the best he (or she) can be right there. I submit that success is relative to the person, to the day, and to the activity. And, we are all Jane Pauley’s or Tom Brokaw’s or President of the U.S. to someone.

What if we all decided to do it— no, not that IT– what if we all decided to pursue our dreams, not let roadblocks keep us from them, not let naysayers hold us back, not let “cruel fate” play headgames with us…what if we just got up, went out, and did it, no matter how hard it was, or how long it took?

What if?