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Day By Day: What I want to do when I grow up

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opinion River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

In deciding what to write about this week, there were the obvious things -- the election, the weather, Kevin's insistence we really haven't lost "real" money, just the stuff on paper.

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"Isn't all money just paper?" I screech.

But I decided on something broader, thanks to a copy of Readers Digest I found in the Star-Observer reading room.

I haven't picked up a Readers Digest since I frequented the reading room at my parents' home almost 40 years ago. It hasn't changed much. There are still a lot of uplifting stories, but the one that caught my attention didn't lift me up but left me thinking, "Give me a break."

It was by Maria Shriver, a Kennedy and wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In speaking to her nephew's graduating class, she told them to consider the most important question of their lives: "Who do you want to be?"

Good one.

I thought about it myself and because I tend to go negative first, who I don't want to be came to mind first.

I definitely don't want to run for president of the United States, vice president, senator, congressman or anything close. First off, the interview process is way too long. I think I'd have a hard time approving all those messages without cracking up or apologizing for spending all that money on something like TV advertising.

And I don't particularly care for confrontation. I'm not even comfortable watching candidates confront each other on television. I keep switching the channel back to the WB every time things get testy.

I know I would end up making all the wrong faces and that my body language would give the talking heads at Fox or CNN insights into my flawed character that would make McCain's blinking look like a solid stare.

And I don't want to even think about Kevin on the campaign trail. But then, just the first mention of his preference for a benign dictatorship over democracy would likely end it all before it got ugly.

When I was a girl I used to think I wanted to be a nun. It is, of course, a noble vocation and I have met many nuns whom I have admired over the years. But if I am honest, my motives for "taking the veil" weren't really kosher.

First off, about that veil. I know some of the appeal to me about the convent was the outfit, the traditional one -- kind of like a birka with the chin showing. I figured no bad hair days, no log legs showing or shaving required, sensible, comfortable shoes and, political statements aside, no bra. Just your eyes and your smile showing, my best features, according to my mother. But even if the habit didn't change, it wasn't in the cards.

I do get attacks of envy and fantasize about what it would be like to be someone like Oprah. I think she goes over the top a lot of the time, especially in recent years, but if I was in her position with her money and influence and shoes, I'd find a way to keep it real. I'd start by keeping the same hairstyle and weight and stop letting the camera shoot my thighs from the side -- viewers like consistency.

Someone I would like to be is Harper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird." I could see myself writing one book for the ages and letting it go at that, living the rest of my life as I please, pleasing no one but myself, professionally that is.

The truth is, Shriver's point was a good one. She was trying to tell these young people that people like her may appear to have it all (well, let's face it, she's come pretty close), but that's not what's important. What she means by who you are is really more about what kind of person you are no matter what you do -- things like integrity, character and responsibility. Those are the things that define a good life. I agree with Maria about that.

So despite the fact that I'm pretty sure I'm never going to be all that I could be, it isn't really about that.

It's how we do what we do that matters.

I hope whoever does become president agrees.

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