When we were younger, we had an idea of what we thought our life would look like. I know I did. Especially as I got older. Because I was such a tomboy growing up (okay…still am…just a little), I wanted to be like my childhood idol, Babe Didriksen Zaharias, who excelled in every sport she ever played. She was even an Olympian. She played basketball and ran track and then picked up the game of golf. I wanted to be a professional athlete. I seemed to have a natural comfortableness on the playing field or court – whether it be soccer, softball, tennis, or basketball. In high school, I still believed I could meet my goal — being a three sport athlete in tennis, basketball, and softball. Was I any good? Let’s just say that the college coaches of two of those sports were talking to me about joining their team.
As I headed off to college, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. It seemed practical and certainly more subjective than any career focused on math and/or science, which are were not my strong suits. And as it turns out, I enjoyed the debates, opinions shared, and being able to express my views without ridicule and criticism. Even then, my writing was getting noticed, but I did not recall my writing being anything that the Department Chair would even know about, let alone be someone who we would remember a few years later as I sat in his office. Although my dreams of being a professional athlete was no longer an option, I still believed that I could have everything I ever wanted…a husband…kids…a career…the house with the white picket fence…I had grabbed hold of the “American Dream” — or at least what I thought it looked like.
But life had other plans…
…plans that I never even saw coming…
…plans that were destined to lead me here.
After I graduated from college with a Political Science degree, my husband and I (along with our baby due a few months later), moved to his home state of Nebraska. Truth be told, I did not know what I was getting myself into; let alone know where Nebraska was. I knew Nevada was east of California so I had no clue as to where Omaha was in Nebraska. We move into a small one-bedroom apartment where pure loneliness settled as I grew homesick for the only place I had ever lived, was not accustomed to the harsh winters, and a husband who traveled three of four weeks. Then, you throw in the pregnancy and I was a mess. I said it was winter, right? I kept thinking to myself, “What did I get myself into?” and “How is this going to turn out?”
Fortunately for me, those questions would take years to answer.
Because life had other plans.
Fast forward about 25 years and that brings to me to the here and now. As I think about how to sum up a quarter of a century of memories, friends come and gone, jobs that left me or I left them, and the births and raising of two more sons, I pause to reflect on how many steps I took to get here and the few that I wish I had never taken, there were some that left me with changed forever. How could someone travel so far in such a direction that the original destination is no where in sight? That the trajectory had been completely altered such that going back to who I once was is impossible to do, let alone imagine.
Has this ever happened to you? When life made other plans? Maybe you knew about it and maybe you didn’t. Maybe suddenly something because instantly clear…maybe it took you a while…maybe you fell in love with something that was never on your radar…maybe you found out how you could help others. Life is funny that way. Where somehow, chance meetings become signs of something that is yet to come. When we are placed in situations that seem so random that there could never be a sense of order about it, yet days later, it makes perfect sense. How simple decisions and seemingly casual words shared can change what happens next.
Ever lost something you really wanted? Maybe it was a house you fell in love with…maybe it a dream job…maybe it was a friendship or marriage…maybe it was good news from the doctor. We all can relate to losing something that we wanted. Job offers never come…the bank won’t secure your loan…you say goodbye to love lost…and the doctor wants to see you. We wish, we hope, we pray. All clinging to whatever we can to secure our belief in our desires to further our careers, our home life, our relationships, or our health. We have fallen to our knees, begging and pleading in some cases, and if we were superstitious, rubbed our lucky rabbit’s foot — because it doesn’t hurt to do it. Thinking to ourselves, replaying every move and word, wondering, “What else could I have done?”…knowing full well that we gave it our all.
And in spite of our efforts to reach for what we think is best for us, life made other plans.
So where are you in this crazy mess of life? Has your life decided to forgo your every wish from years ago only to place you somewhere you never thought you would be? Chances are you would answer “yes” and you would not be alone. Can you recall choices that you made that at the time seemed like the perfect decision, only to have it back fire on you? Sounds like you too? When my husband and I were first married, we bought a minivan, knowing we were going to have kids right away. It was the first new car we bought together and we looked forward to starting our family and having just the vehicle to transport them to their various activities, etc. But then we move to Nebraska and this van does not have front-wheel drive so any trip on the hilly, ice-covered streets of Omaha become something reminiscent of “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” from my many years of going to Disneyland. Except this time it was not fun and I was not on a track. This was real. And laughing now, life made other plans. (By the way, that van lasted one winter and we traded it in for something more “appropriate” for winter-time driving.)
Had an event occur to you or one that you witnessed that changed everything for you? Maybe it was a few words you garnished from a speech you attended. Perhaps it was a titillating quote you read somewhere. Maybe it is even so abstract that you know it is there, but you just can’t put your finger on it to name it. But you know. We all know. The best thing about life is that so many things can play out so many different scenarios…where is one thing happens, then your life becomes changed and you head off on a different trajectory that you were just on and yet if another occurrence happens, your directions changes once again. Ever wondered what would happen if you changed one thing in your past and how that might have affected your steps after? How would your life be different? Would you have met the same people when you did? Would you have succumbed to the same pitfalls that you found anyway? Most of us would never wish to redo even just a small piece of our lives because it could dramatically change everything from that point on. Sometimes, we have to give “chance” its moment…
Because life had other plans…
Ever had something terribly go wrong that ended up in something even better than you imagined? Some times, that is exactly what needs to happen. You need to fall so that you know what it feels like to get up. You need to know what pain feels like so you can recover from it. You need to believe that something else is waiting for you on the other side of this storm. It may not look like what you think it will, and may not even be anything you think you want. Some plans we just don’t have a hand in. We have to let things play out. Things that we never dreamed will become our reality…people we never met will become our family…places we could never see now are as clear as pictures.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” – Marilyn Monroe
I know I am not the same daughter I was 40 years ago, not the same woman my husband married 25 years ago, nor am person I was 10 years ago. We all change and grow. Some people change for the better and others just change. Life has plans for each and every one of us and although the blueprints are something we have yet to see, something compels us to hold on…to believe in what is just around the corner…to hold onto what is good…to love the ride.
Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©