Plinko vs. Louboutin

As a child full of pain and disease and anger and a big nasty mouth, I remember yelling, during a fight with my Mother, “I just want to be NORMAL!” As if she could really do anything about that. In my middle school years, I experienced a medical condition called Juvenile Dermatomyositis, and let’s just say, it wasn’t fun.

As I’ve come to see now, my being at that age, was full of turmoil and trouble and it’s really no wonder that there was also a physical expression of dis-ease to go along with that. The skin inflammation, weakening of muscle, increased emotion, all came packaged together, as various components of the condition and the meds they used to combat it.

So, doesn’t every middle school kid, ‘Just want to be normal?’ Maybe it was just me? That was the age, where standing out, and being different, especially weak and sickly, seemed to ruin my whole world. It seemed that being accepted and liked and being a ‘cool kid’ was the whole point of life at that age, to me. Funny isn’t. I wonder how much of that sticks with us into adulthood? I wonder if I still carry some of that drive, even today, even after all this shifting and re-arranging of my priorities, and letting go of certain attachments?

Well, one thing I do understand more today than ever, is that I really did already have my wish all along, just like now… I am more NORMAL, that I really care to be!

Heck yeah! Normal in so many ways. Normal in my faults. Normal in my successes. Normal in my short attention span. Normal in my shortcomings. I am a very normal human being in so many respects… Oops… maybe I coulda’ wished for something a little different way back then 🙂

Earlier this week, I was watching Charlie Rose, he interviewed a man who designs shoes. He is a quite successful shoe designer. His shoes have made a real impact in the fashion world. He puts red soles on his shoes, makes creative works of art, and truly loves what he does. Christian Louboutin, gave a fantastic interview and boldly expressed exactly how not Normal his life is. His story is echoed by the few who have made it to the top of their game, and it usually sounds like this “As a young child, I only loved one thing. Shoes and designing them is the only thing I cared about, and ever really wanted to do.” (You can swap out the topic itself in each of these cases, but notice how there is One Thing, that this person loved ever since childhood.)

He goes on to talk about how he lives on top of his shoe factory, and that is exactly where he wants to be. He is successful enough to own a home in the country, to have nice dinners out on the town with friends, to enjoy the rewards of his work… But these people, these Weird, not Normal people, don’t seem to want that. He even said, in a brushing off the idea comment… ” I could sit with friends at dinner and gossip, but I don’t want that, I want to work on designing and adjusting and creating my shoes.” He has one thing he loves, nothing else.

Well, so far, I haven’t found my one thing. So call me Normal. Like a Plinko chip that the contestant laid flat against the big board, I have clicked and bounced from peg to peg, sometimes resting longer, sorta stuck for a second. That is what my focus has felt like. Not like Mr. Louboutin, who even said he never wanted to be in the fashion world, but he just wanted to design shoes. He had his ‘one thing’ early.

A couple years ago, as I turned down a drink among friends, I was told something like “Okay, whatever, I can never keep up with what your next ‘thing’ is anyway.” Or at least that’s how I remember it. It impacted me then, because I hadn’t really noticed that I switched ‘things’ that often. I felt like a passionate pursuer of personal growth, and I was constantly choosing new life adventures and new challenges, sobriety being one…

Truthfully though, this person was right. I do switch up my ‘things’. I do move from one ‘thing’ to the next. I do scatter my energy, instead of keeping it really laser-pointed in one tiny spot. So call me Normal. There, sixth grade me, we got our wish…

My career Plinko chip, has found a spot to rest for awhile recently though. This big search and battle to create my own coaching practice, has almost floated away completely. I haven’t much thought about it in weeks. This idea of sitting with someone and helping them talk and work, through major life transformations, is something that I was so invested in, yet now I’ve let it slip from my consciousness. Not to mention the Financial Coaching Practice, the Independent Marketing and Graphics firm, or the Website design businesses that I’ve built in the last couple years… I’m just as normal as I could be. Just like a new year’s treadmill gathering dust in the garage, I had big intentions and big dreams, then put them aside for something else, something easier.

I’ve chosen to step up at the restaurant, to be a version of my wife, as a manager, as an owner, a cook, a cleaner, a bartender and waitress. We tackle projects, we make improvements, we feed people real good food, we serve love. And, I love all that stuff. I have a ready-made workplace instead of one that I have to build brick by difficult brick.

I guess I am switching up again, my One Thing, and that isn’t ever as effective. That is what separates the really successful, the really Weird beings, from the Normal ones. Darn. I guess we need to be careful what we ask for, we may just get it.

Who knows though. It’s never too late, it’s never out of possibility, as long as we’re breathing, to do what we love, to focus ourselves in the tiny moment at hand. I do find myself deeply entranced in this work. My mind doesn’t wander and wish I was somewhere else. I have plenty of opportunity to be so very dang’d thankful, that I get to help make this restaurant business thrive, with my own two hands. It’s actually a dream come true.

So can a bouncing Plinko chip path bring us right to where we’re destined to be? How could it take us anywhere else? Also, I do own that I am driving that path, I’ve made my own choices. It’s not up to mere gravity. There is luck involved though. Recently, I’ve felt that I was that chip, headed straight for the zero slot, and at the last minute, hit the peg to land at $10,000. I’ll be glad to accept that prize 🙂

How long will this last? Will you get to finally relax and ‘know’ what my One Thing is? Probably not. I wanted to be normal, remember? I sit here typing on this screen. Writing my thoughts, when I could be up at The Iron. I choose this too. I choose to still nurture and foster these places where I have grown. I’ve learned to share myself here. So I will still. I hope you accept me, and like me, and think I’m a ‘cool kid’!

Ha! Just kidding 🙂 I can’t have that, and be me too, I will still be a weird version of normal, as long as I can hold onto it 🙂


Aaron Nichols


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