Today’s writing prompt: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I’ve never really looked at the things I’ve done as accomplishments, let alone taken pride in them.
That may sound odd, but it’s seldom occurred to me to think that way. In fact, I really don’t like to boast or brag about the things I do. It just doesn’t feel right.
Although I will acknowledge that I have talents and abilities that other people do not, I’m not all that special. After all, other people have talents and abilities that I do not; we’re all different, so we all bring different things to the table. Plus, there will always be someone who can do something better than I can, just as there are things I can do better than other people can.
Also, when it comes to things I do on any kind of regular basis, chances are that I will get better at those things as time goes along—which means that my view of things I’ve done in the past will shift over time, seeming less important or exciting than they once did.
Finally, I have no interest in inflating my ego. There have been times in my life when I’ve been so convinced of my own greatness in some area that I have become an insufferable dick. I don’t want to be that person.
So, I don’t really keep track of “accomplishments”.
That said, there are small moments. They’re not all that important in the grand scheme of things, but still manage to impress me, or allow me to briefly remember how I felt at the time.
- In the late 1980s, I bought my first synthesizer; despite having had very little musical training, I began creating my own music. As I got better at it, I incorporated a computer and MIDI sequencing software into my setup, making it easier to organize and edit the pieces I created. In one piece, I attempted a piano solo. The first part of it was exactly what I wanted, but then I stumbled. Not wanting to lose the part I liked, I opted to try a punch-in to replace the second part. It would be tricky: if I hit the first note too early, it wouldn’t get recorded, and I’d have to do it over again; too late, and I’d disrupt the flow of the solo—and I’d have to do it over again. I managed to nail it on the first try. To this day, I’m still amazed that it worked so well—unless I told you, you’d never know that it wasn’t done in one shot.
- I spent five years living in Tokyo. A couple of years in, I decided to leave the company I was working for to take a better job with a bigger, more well-known company. I had help along the way, but I navigated the job change and getting a new apartment, setting up services, and buying new furniture—all within a period of just a few weeks. Once at my new job, I even successfully applied for—and got—a Japanese credit card. The parts that still amaze me: It looked as though my soon-to-be ex-boss was going to make things difficult for me—but I stood firm, making it abundantly clear that I was going to have my way, that he was not going to stop me. Getting the apartment meant signing a rental contract; though I asked a lot of questions (the agent was starting to get annoyed with me, until I explained that my father, an attorney, had taught me to ask questions when reading contracts), it got done—without resorting to using English.
- Earlier this year, I located a copy of my favorite children’s album (Play a Story with Rosemary and Learn to Tell Time with Grandson Clock by Rosemary Rice (Harmony, 1963)) during a trip to Goodwill. I’d been looking for a copy for several years with no luck, so it was a happy surprise to find it among the haphazard collection of LPs in the racks.
- The storytelling workshop I participated in a couple of months back is the rare example I have of a “real” accomplishment. The idea was to examine a difficult memory (one that affected the course of my life for much longer than it should have) while confronting my fear of speaking in public. Both the story and the reading turned out really well; the experience was better than I would have expected.
Friends and other people I know might point to different things that I could reasonably be proud of. But it’s mostly the small moments that are more important to me. Because those small moments are what make up life, not grand accomplishments.
(27 November 2013)