Funny how my advice to young people is…. not what I had once believed.
It’s not the advice that was given to me.
I’m sure for some folks, life follows an ordered and expected path. Things play out pretty much as they planned.
I thought that was me.
I was a planner.
Everything I did came about after much effort and careful thought.
For others, there was no path. They had no expectations.
They’re the ones (whom I envy) who say they never thought they’d write a book, but presto-magic, now they have a New York Times best-seller. Or they didn’t think they’d act, but abra-ka-dab-ra, now they’re receiving an Academy Award. They marvel at the unexpectedness. They talk about the helping hands they had along the way. The serendipitous occurrences.
I’ve come to see there is no one right way. Nothing can be planned 100%.
And so, let me tell you what has brought me to this new place, where I give advice now.
My family couldn’t imagine I’d have sons – I was such a girly-girl.
And yet, I’ve learned that sons completed me. I can’t imagine not having sons, now.
That one would be a musician and one an artist & game-designer -- so unexpected and not planned for.
At one point, I was hoping for Harvard (my dream) and maybe a senator. That son scoffs at me now. He’d no more be a senator than a minister. Enviably, he has his own dreams to pursue. Pursuing mine would be a life not well lived for him.
I never saw Georgia in our future; never gave that state much thought. But that is where our second son became the finest young man, mastering interactive game design, a craft that didn’t even exist when I was a kid. We have loved getting to experience Savannah, Hilton Head and Jekyll Island. We’ve explored the area around SCAD and have been enlightened in doing so.
Then Texas came into our life. Again, nary a thought of that giant state with such a different culture from New England. And again, we’ll explore. We’ll visit San Antonio and the Silos in Waco. We’ll go to the ocean in Galveston, four hours from my son’s home in Austin. And serendipitously, Frank will get to see a Dallas Cowboys football game, “America’s team” to him since he was a boy.
I didn’t know I would form a connection to my real father’s family – relatives I never knew growing up. They’ve introduced me to a piece of my history and welcomed me into their world. They have made a positive impact in my journey.
I didn’t know I would become distanced from other family members, some whom I’d considered my closest.
My advice now – and here it is -- is to be fluid, embrace the unexpected with an open mind and an open heart.
You might discover things and feelings you never knew were possible. You may at times be sad or weary or disappointed, but likely will also be uplifted, surprised and inspired.
Often in my wakeful nights now, I pray I surrender, and those words create a physical change in my body. A calming change.
Go with the flow.
I could not be more glad (now) that our lives take turns we never saw coming.
What the universe had in store for me (big and broad) has turned out better than what I was envisioning for myself (small and safe).
The unexpected has made my life – a life well lived.
Art work by Ben Kalicky.