I read a quote this morning taken from the brilliant xkcd comic (no. 896, “Marie Curie”), to wit: “You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.” I am also put in mind of a small laminated poster that was on my side of the large mirror in the bedroom I shared with my sister in Los Angeles: it featured Linus (of Peanuts fame), holding his blanket and solemnly proclaiming, "There is no heavier burden than a great potential."

… And I think the latter quote, that being conscious of the burden, can go a long way in short-circuiting the wisdom of the first quote. It's kind of like being too audience-conscious when writing: for many years I felt that whatever I wrote, whatever I'd intend to write, had to be done with the idea in mind of Leading People to the Church, and the result was… a lack of results — very little writing, and certainly what writing there was pretty bad overall (even my small efforts at sci-fi always had an LDS missionary undercurrent). Definitely not publishable.

Among the notable exceptions were The Easy-to-Read Book of Mormon (ETRBOM), "Buttons" (Sunstone piece), and some of my Mormon feminist essays. I felt deeply about all of these things, about the importance of doing them. It helped that the audiences I had in mind were almost entirely LDS, yes, and that it was relatively easy to adapt some of the mofem essays for a non-Mormon audience thereafter. Simplifying but retaining the message of the Book of Mormon, trying to explain things, making arguments to promote or defend a point of view that seemed (and still seems) morally and intellectually just — I feel, in retrospect, that I lived up to my (writerly) potential with those projects.

Doing so, however, exacted a cost in other areas of my life (and no surprise there): with the ETRBOM in particular, I felt pushed and compelled such that I feel to this day that there were times I neglected my family, neglected myself, too. And at the height of my mofem-ness, the same was true. The satisfaction — the enormous satisfaction of writing, of receiving praise as a writer (I treasure in particular Mario de Pillis, Sr.'s assessment of my cool-headedness and logic when debating issues on-line with various shades of Neanderthals) — all this was in some measure undercut by hearing in my head/heart the church's insistent message that The Most Important Calling for Women in This Life is Motherhood, and that our kids were spending far too much time at the babysitter's or in front of the TV while I fanatically worked on the ETRBOM and/or engaged online.

…I would like to think, and indeed I hope that I didn't cause our daughters any permanent damage.

So here I am at roughly the start of the last quarter of my life — or, the gods willing and genetic trends upholding, the last third of my life — and I find myself a bit at loose ends. I have a few artsy things that I feel reasonably enthusiastic about doing this week (e.g., painting in oils while Mr Mo is away, odor be danged). I am all too conscious that my contributions to the family coffers have been fairly minimal since I parted ways with SAP … nearly two years ago now. I was too ill to work in any way approximating full-time for a long while — more ill than I or Mr Mo may have realized — but even though I'm sorta kinda pretty much back to normal, I've yet to find a focus. (It's true that I would have been and would still be totally fine with working for my Paris client a LOT more, but the volume comes and goes in fits and starts, and I don't think that's going to change anytime soon, alas. My illness did not affect my translation and editing skills, thank the gods.)

A lot of people, myself included, joke about figuring out what they want to be when they grow up — but the joke is less and less humorous the closer and closer I get to my (wildly theoretical) retirement.

Well, time to get cracking. Awakening to "falling back" an hour was a gift this morning, as is the burst of sunshine right this minute on a day when storms and rain and gray are predicted.