An Ordinary Life

A short-short story.

Posted Jun 03, 2017

Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

Here is the latest of my short-short stories that are composites of real-life events with psychological or practical implications.

As a child, he wanted to be a fireman, then an astronaut, then an archeologist specializing in dinosaurs. In college he majored in chemistry but found it too hard, so after switching majors twice, ended up majoring in education, figuring he’d change the world by reinventing education.

He wrote proposals to everyone from his high school principal to the U.S. Secretary of Education but never even got a response, not even one of those form letters signed by auto-pen.

He became a teacher, an idealistic teacher. He was going to teach kids to fight The Man. He barely could control the class. After a few years, he was grateful if most kids passed an easy final.

After school, he made time for activism—placards, protests, phone banking. He wished he could have seen tangible evidence of his efforts’ impact.

He was unable to find the woman of his dreams so he married a woman of his realism. It wasn’t a marriage made in heaven but it worked on earth, more or less.

He never thought that so much of his life’s meaning would be in his children but because his loftier dreams never materialized, it was mainly about his kids.

When he retired, he shrank his goals to appreciating the simple pleasures. He even felt grateful each morning that he woke up.

His major pleasures were planting and watching flowers grow, hiking and seeing nature’s handiwork, seeing children glow at his dog, eating even basic things, and most of all, sitting next to his wife, his hand on her thigh, watching a movie. He was so grateful for Netflix. He recalled as a teen having to look at TV Guide to choose among a few movies and then had to be at the TV at the specified time and endure lots of commercials. “Thank you, Netflix!”

On his deathbed, he felt he had a life better than most. And he did.

The takeaway

Any implications for you?

Dr. Nemko’s nine books, including his just-published Modern Fables: short-short stories with life lessons are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at

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