This post is part of the Flashback Series featuring posts from the site archives. It was originally published on May 11, 2007.
It sounds crazy, I know. Here’s the story:
I’m a goal-setter. Granted, I’m better at setting goals than actually achieving them, but I love to write down dreams and plans of things I want to do. Yet over the past couple of years I’ve realized that my long-term goals in particular have always been way too detailed and specific, and I often forget about them simply because my interests changed or they were no longer appealing for one reason or another. I realized I need a single, broad vision rather than an overly detailed inventory.
Meanwhile, I discovered that handy little kitchen accessory that was almost lost to the dustbin of history after the feminist revolution: the apron. I don’t think I’d ever seen a woman wear one (except in old Leave It to Beaver reruns) so it never occurred to me to have one. Yet in the painful process of learning basic cooking skills after I got married, I was often frustrated that clean clothes would get trashed in the process of trying to put together a meal. So when I friend recommended that I use an apron, I was amazed. Who came up with this amazing invention? Not only did it keep my clothes nice and clean and give me pockets for whisks and little herb bottles, but it gave me a feeling of contentedness and comfort each time I put it on.
So back to life goals. As I’ve grown in my role as wife and mother, when I think about what I want out of life I often come back to that apron. I realized that if I ever have an apron hanging from the pantry door that is threadbare and covered in stains, I have probably lived a pretty good life. Because having a well-worn apron means:
- You have food to eat
- You have someone to cook for
- You have someone to sit down at the table with you to share in the fruits of your efforts
- You have the resources and the physical ability to make homemade meals
- You have the energy and the money to wear clothes that are nice enough to be worth protecting
- You care enough to do all of the above
I’ve frequently heard the advice that in order to set goals you have to envision what you want to have accomplished at the end of your life, and then work backwards from there. My list of desired accomplishments used to be an elaborate paper full of names of places and business ventures and material possessions. A lot of those things still sound nice enough, but no longer inspire me on a deep level (in fact, I don’t think they ever really did).
My goal in life is now much more simple, yet far more inspiring: to live a long life surrounded by friends and family and children and grandchildren and, at the end of the day, to have a worn out old apron hanging from my pantry door.
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