You must do what you can and what you can you must do. My mother and her clever like- truisms-chiming advices were tight like glue, but however sensible, at the time they came across as rather cliché.
To me she could have just as easily said things like “Try your hardest” or “Use your talents” and I guess that’s exactly how I eventually internalized her guidance, as a call to aspiration. I myself have never looked at ambition as a personality defining quality, but I know she did when she was asked to sketch my character for some kind of medical evaluation of sorts.
I’m sure her decryption wasn’t intended to be a positive recommendation, since my mother’s main motto was most likely to ‘act normal, that’s crazy enough’. She had no desire to stand out in the crowd, even though in my crowd she had every reason to. It took me some time to get to terms with her using a word not in her own playbook to describe me. Could I be more than just a mama’s boy?
Later in life I encountered someone with a much different view on the topic. Confronted with my urge to master everything that comes my way, she believed it to be ‘the curse of being the only one capable in a world full of incapability’.
I was flattered by the compliment at first, but ever so quickly to discover she was making this distinction to have an excuse to stay in bed as long as possible, pretending to be unequipped to get out of doing her own chores and facing her own responsibilities.
After much introspection, I gained a better understanding of my drives and ambitions, mainly turning inwards: there’s no-one I desire to impress but myself. However, I do feel a great amount of sympathy for the only pink gladiolus in the sea of purple ones next to our terrace at Les Pierres. It’s doing what it can, just because it can. Much appreciated.