New Castle News

Lisa Madras

February 20, 2012

Lisa Madras: We were born for greatness — if we can just figure out what to do

NEW CASTLE — What do I love to practice?

This is a hard question for someone with self-proclaimed ADD to answer. Now, please don't jump all over me for the attention deficit diagnosis... I'm not making light of it, and while I don't technically have it, I have always had a ridiculously hard time focusing on or sticking with anything for long periods of time.

I say it's because I love everything so much that I can't narrow my interests down to any one or two things. Truth be told, I've just never found anything that I'm passionate enough about to hone in on. And after a lifetime of trying to find that one thing that will center me and define my purpose, I've finally accepted that I will always be, well.... just average.

It's said that in order to become a master of something, one is to have practiced a skill intensely for 10,000 hours or more. I'm heartened to realize that if nothing else, I'm a master of eating, sleeping, complaining, and reading. Great. I'm fat, lethargic, and unhappy, but I'll never accidentally walk into a men's restroom instead of a women's.  

OK, I actually did that at the last Penguins game, but in my defense, the words are not WRITTEN on the entrances at the Consol, and I'm easily distracted by men in hockey jerseys.

Being average is a hard lump to swallow, that's for sure, but not unmanageable. I even have moments where I'm sort of cool with it. It's a lot of pressure to be amazing at something, and the pressure of just trying to FIND something to be amazing at has pretty much worn me out. So I'll take the zen-like calm that comes with accepting that the only mind I'll ever blow away is my own.

And yet I'm terrified of the same fate for my children.  

My son, at the age of 11, is much like me and flits from one interest to another, alighting only long enough to sustain a bright, indeed often blinding, burst of passion that consumes his entire soul for a moment to a month ... and then moves on to the next big thing.

My 6-year-old daughter, on the other hand, is the exact opposite in that she has never developed an affection for anything except her cat, Bowii, although she's quick to tell you everything she despises: "girl stuff"; anything other 6 year olds enjoy; and anything she may have liked just 24 hours ago. (i.e. "I HATE Rice Crispies!" This, after somehow miraculously surviving on nothing more than the very same cereal for the entire year leading up to her fifth birthday.)

But still I watch these two with the intensity of the aforementioned cat stalking a bug across the living room floor, waiting to catch that spark in the eye or that vibration of thrill in their little beings that indicate a possible unrealized potential or inherent talent. I know it's there, and once we find it, we'll get to work on that 10,000 hours.

I guess I could hold the same hope for myself, and keep telling myself that if I have a gift, it will be revealed to me ... when the time is right. Who knows? Maybe the time I spend with my kids IS my gift, and raising them to realize what they love to practice is my purpose?

My son is fond of telling me, "Who knows, Mom? I might have the cure for cancer." I'm equally fond of responding, "Yes, but 10,000 hours of video games isn't really getting you any closer to it."

But when the time is right, I don't think I'll mind having a helping hand in that, even if it's just through watching, waiting, and finding a suitable replacement for Rice Crispies.

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Lisa Madras
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