A priority is something that is given special attention. It can also be defined as the right to precede others in order, rank, privilege, etc., something that takes precedence.
We are defined by the choices we make. Our priorities determine the quality of our personal relationships, our professional integrity, our character itself. At journey’s end, it is all that we are.
This holds true across all aspects of life, the larger and the lesser, whether you will be rigid or flexible, loyal or disloyal, happy or sad, fit or unfit. We make those choices, and we set them in stone through actions. A brilliant writer that I knew as an undergrad, who was a close personal friend at the time, once told me, “You vote with your feet.”
Today is Mother’s Day, and I am a mother to a brilliant, beautiful, funny, and talented daughter who is exquisitely better than me in every meaningful way.
I am flawed as a mother. Although there is no question in my mind that she is the most important part of me, my choices have not always reflected that priority with perfect consistency. A large component of who I am is single-minded, driven and self-centered. I was a single mother as an undergrad and taking 21 credit hours per semester to finish two majors. Ariel was little then, about three, and I remember one year right in the heat of finals week and finishing papers, she wanted me to stop writing and jump on the bed with her. The sound of her laughter when I did it was the happiest, most contagious music ever. In retrospect, I should reflect more on memories like that because failing to choose to prioritize the needs and feelings of loved ones over whatever is driving me at the moment is my hallmark idiosyncrasy.
I am also a daughter and my own mother is the kind of mother that I wish I were — endlessly patient, devoted, and selfless. I am no less (and am perhaps even more) flawed as a daughter. The navigation of personal relationships has always been tricky. I am a Myers Briggs ENTJ and being emotive is not my first response to anything.
I also raise sighthounds, Sloughis to be specific, a rare breed of sighthound from Morocco that is still used in the Sahara to hunt jackals, foxes, gazelles, wild boar, hare and rabbits. When I used to teach dog obedience, I would tell people that when Rover is in hot pursuit with his nose up the fluffy cottontail of a bunny and you are screaming his name, Rover does not hear you. Dogs have one track minds. Sighthounds demonstrate this characteristic in scientific notation. I am a bit like my Sloughis. When I get on a line toward a goal, I do not often notice anything else. This serves me well in business but is much less useful personally, and it causes, produces, and is fed by a significant amount of stress, stress spawned in a pool of drive, competitiveness and pressure.
I am reading back over these words and mentally noting that this post reads like a rambling self-indulgence. Do I have a point anywhere on the horizon and will we ever get there?
Someone who has become close to me recently recommended that I take up yoga to improve my spiritual, mental and physical health, and I followed that advice. He was right, and it has set me on a path of (not always comfortable) introspection. My point is that we are capable of course corrections if we force ourselves to notice what choices produce well being and what choices do not. We can choose to redefine ourselves, or at least to tweak the definition, and yes, to improve it. Change is difficult for everyone, but making mistakes is a flawless process of progress. You vote with your feet, one step at a time, setting in stone your priorities. Your choices define you.