For years, one of the only bones of contention in my marriage has been ambition. Well, more accurately, my husband’s lack of it. As someone who has a constant desire to KNOW more, DO more, BE… MORE, it has always baffled me that my husband feels none of this drive. At 34 he still isn’t sure what he wants to be “when he grows up”.
A few years ago this lack of ambition really bothered me. I wanted to change him, make him more like me. Didn’t he want to be looked up to? Didn’t he want esteem and notoriety? Didn’t he want people to think highly of him? In essence, didn’t he want to be FAMOUS?
Nope. It’s as plain as that. He didn’t want any of those things and he wasn’t about to pretend that he did.
How can you NOT respect someone for being so free of ego? But I’m embarrassed to say that it took me almost fifteen years to really respect my husband’s lack of hubris. Maybe it took so long because I saw it as just that…a lack of something. What was he missing that made him not care about being more?
But he wasn’t (isn’t) missing anything. Where I have a desire for ambition, my husband has contentment. What a lucky man.
The funny thing is, that even though I realize that contentment is the place I want to end up, the continent I want to live on, the destination I want to come home to…I still can’t stop myself from craving fame.
I don’t doubt that there are more Americans that are like me than like my husband. A little peak at nighttime TV and it’s easy to see that there are throngs of people who believe that they’re special, talented, one of a kind. I’m starting to wonder if the truly special ones are the few who aren’t yelling for someone to pay attention to them.
I’m pretty sure my desire for fame started in my childhood, although sometimes I wonder if it’s just something you’re born wanting. Growing up, I was constantly reminded of my Dad’s minor fame. I was a kid right at the height of his celebrity. My dad’s artificial heart was first successfully transplanted in a Barney Clark when I was only five. Barney Clark survived for 112 days, but the lasting impression of my dad’s accomplishment has followed me ever since.
I got a tiny sip of what it would be like to have people recognize my name and I liked the way it tasted. And even though it’s painful to admit, I know that part of me wants to prove to him that I’m worth something too. It’s been over twenty years since I’ve talked to my dad, but sometimes I think, if I was only famous enough he’d want to have me back. He’d realize what he was missing out on.