Life is never what we expect. No matter how hard we plan and prepare there are always twists and turns we can’t anticipate that change our trajectory forever. Some in small ways, others large. How we deal with those impacts will decide where we end up and the person we become. Especially since so many of those life changing events involve other people. We can control our own actions, but we quickly learn we can’t control others, no matter how hard we try.
Committed to someone? Now there’s two to think about, not just your own wants and needs, but the collective desires that work for both becomes the priority. If defining those parameters is a constant struggle the union can end before it starts. Career choices can stretch two people in different directions. Especially if one has more power and money or requires relocating. Who takes precedent?
Add a child to the mix and the decisions escalate a hundred-fold. Now the child’s needs are the priority. Their safety, health and welfare are all that matters. More than one? Each has their own unique issues, ambitions and hopes.
Divorce creates another dimension. My daughter was three when my husband and I separated. Like any loss, even one you seek, it forces you to reassess where you are and where you want to go. It changes the trajectory of everyone involved. Illness, death, and trauma are all devastating. My sister and brother passed away far too young, leaving mourning families. Picking up the pieces and moving forward took enormous love, support and time, but my nieces and nephews were never the same.
We all have a picture in our heads of what we think life will bring. Love, success, or happiness. But all too often it throws in a lot of unforeseen curves that lead to places never imagined.
Planning is great. We all need to have aspirations and hopes. They give us direction and goals that guide us down a path. I learned quickly that path is not set in stone. Nor should it be.
What I wanted, who I was in my twenties was not true for the woman I became in my thirties, forties, fifties, or sixties. Why should I stay entrenched in perspectives that may no longer fit who I am now?
Even when people evolve and move in similar directions it takes tremendous commitment, work and drive to keep a relationship together. Any relationship.
Friends are too often ignored when life becomes difficult or released as unneeded baggage when they become too time consuming. But they offer perspectives and input family cannot. Close, but still not emotionally connected to our everyday lives their support can be pivotal to broadening our viewpoints. Co-workers can come and go but have a lasting effect. To this day I am blessed with those who continue to be a part of my life.
A nurse I had the pleasure of teaching as a student who then stayed as a wonderful addition to my staff for five years. She just sent me a picture of her newborn boy. Another woman who retired after a decade in my office but still honors every holiday with a visit.
A parent has to adapt, moving from the benevolent dictator their young children require to appropriately loosening the reigns for teenagers, to letting go altogether in adulthood. I once heard it beautifully stated, “A parent’s love, when done right, is the only love that grows to separation.” Imbuing them with the strength and courage to follow their own desires, then encouraging them to fly is never an easy task or evolution.
Marriages need to honor and encourage growth and differing views while still offering a welcoming and loving tether. Respecting each other’s value and input. Allowing each other to shoot for the stars, even when the prospect is frightening. Knowing clutching them too tightly can lead to resentment and loss.
Like a pin ball in a never-ending game outside forces can affect us as well. Recessions that change the employment sector. Destructive weather patterns. Laws that alter how we can save, spend, retire, prevent pregnancy or end one.
Life is challenging. Sometimes overwhelming. But always amazing. Where we end up, whether we stay the course, how we respond, who we become is ultimately our choice. We are the champions of our own destiny. We decide the legacy we leave behind.