On Saturday, Matt and I went to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library. I've lived in College Station for five years and somehow had never gone to see it. I figured it needed to happen before Matt graduates and we, inevitably, move somewhere else.
What stood out to me the most about the whole experience?
That guy did an awful lot of stuff before becoming Commander in Chief. I mean, a LOT. He was a military man, an ambassador to China, head of the CIA, Republican Party Chair, VP to Ronald Reagan, and a lot of other jobs that had him traveling all over the world and meeting with foreign diplomats. Dude changed jobs like, every year or two before becoming Vice Prez and, eventually, President.
I had never thought about the steps it takes to actually become President (not seriously anyway, as it stopped being my goal in life around the time I was in intermediate/middle school). I assumed that one probably got involved with local or state politics and worked their way up to Congress or the Senate, until there was nowhere left to go but the Oval Office. (I'm not super familiar with what all comes between here and there, but that was my thought process. I used to cover the school board and city council when I was a newspaper intern in high school, and I assumed those would be good places to start.)
When we left the museum, I told Matt that I had harbored this secret fantasy as a child, but that now, having experienced Bush Sr.'s museum, I wasn't sure how ANYONE managed to be president without having a crazy amount of experience working with foreign leaders and our own countrymen. (This is not a commentary on any current, future or past president, just thinking out loud.) It suddenly seemed like a much more daunting job than I had ever thought. I had not gotten this sense from the previous presidential museums I've visited (LBJ Library in Austin and the Lincoln Presidential Museum in Illinois). Matt suggested that maybe people like us just weren't wired to go into politics. He's studying engineering, and I studied advertising. Maybe we just don't have the mindset that politicians seem to possess.
Answering the phone in the Oval Office … at Madam Tussaud's in Las Vegas. (November 2010)
Maybe I just don't have that kind of ambition. Maybe I'm not that ambitious in general. I don't dream of "having it all." I don't even know what "all" I want out of life. I am happy running my own little business; I would be happy to someday work at an ad agency again. But do I someday want to be a CEO, or be the boss of hundreds of people, or run a country? Do I want to run backwards in high heels and play the corporate games? No. Does that mean that I am not ambitious? Is it okay to not be that kind of ambitious?
I'm curious what you think. Do you think you're ambitious? What do you dream of accomplishing?
If you're ever in the College Station area, I would recommend checking out the museum. It wasn't as moving as Lincoln's was, but I didn't know very much about G.H.W. before going, and now I feel like I have a better sense of who he was and what he did. I think it's worth checking out.