Real life doesn’t know shortcuts. –Willem Meiners
I read this quote this morning and it resonated with me. It’s true. We cannot not (yes, I intended the double negative) live the life we were given. Or can we?
If you’re old enough, you have experienced having situations come up that you can’t control. Something big has happened to you, and you find yourself not able to do anything about it. You have to go through all the steps. No day provides a shortcut. You have to feel the pain. You have to suffer through the day-to-day stuff. You can’t avoid it. If you’re smart, you soon realize the situation will play out the way it’s supposed to, and you will be forced to stand on the sidelines to watch the world go by. If you’ve raised a teenager, you know what I’m talking about.
Letting go is so hard for some people. It’s a common theme in so many media–it’s a real biggie on the soap operas. There’s always a character with money and power who can’t help himself/herself to control what happens to other people. And guess what? It never works.
I was lucky. I learned this lesson very young. When I broke my leg in a tobogganing accident at age 14 and lost the lead of the school Spring Musical. I was heartbroken because my dream was to sing on Broadway, and this was my first chance to feel the dream. But I learned I was only miserable when I fought against what was happening to me.
Since then, I’ve tried to live my everyday life by being open to what is around me. I can choose to like it, or hate it ,or let it go. And I found out, letting things be what they want to be is a fascinating journey. It has brought me new experiences and opportunities I never dreamed I could do or could experience.
For instance, about 20 years ago, quite by chance I met a woman from the Boston area on a cruise ship. I was on the cruise ship because I took an opportunity that was handed to me. I was doing marketing for a small cruise-only travel agency and a FAM trip was offered to the business by Costa Cruise Lines. Airfare was included, too, which was highly unusual, but the owners of the business could not go–so it was offered to me.
Traveling was something I always wanted to do, but never had a chance to explore. And here was my chance, so I took it. Not only did I have a wonderful time on the trip, I saw myself in different surroundings. I was amazed that people gravitated to me when I wasn’t with my grumpy husband. I even met a woman would be a good friend for the rest of my life. Robin would introduce me to Jane from Maine, and over the next two years, the three of us became traveling partners. I was going through a miserable divorce at the time, had no job except freelance writing, and here was my chance to soothe my soul with travel and new friends. And travel we did — about every two months I was off exploring a new island. Jamaica, Bermuda, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Antigua, Aruba, Martinique, and more. I danced till dawn. I sang Karaoke. I met people from around the country and the world. I was having the time of my life. And I kept a journal.
As our friendship developed, I got a chance to visit both of my friends at their homes in the Boston area and the beautiful state of Maine. I met their families and children. And we got to know each other on a deeper level. And when Jane turned 50–we had a reunion with our new spouse, you guessed it–on a cruise ship.
My point is, if I would have been practical and not have taken this chance, I would have missed out on so many wonderful things that have enriched my life. I wouldn’t have met Robin and Jane. I wouldn’t have seen beautiful tropical islands. I wouldn’t have gotten to know other people from around the country and the world. By taking these trips at a time when I really didn’t have the money to travel, I opened my world. I didn’t put limits on myself. I started to write my own story.
And now, I’m realizing another dream by simply letting things go again. The last three years of Ken’s illness and my unemployment has put me in financial hardship, but I have a chance to finally write seven novels and numerous short stories. My daily blogging is a personal challenge to try to come up with something fresh someone else might like to read. This medium has linked me to other wonderful writers around the globe.
Am I an overnight success? No. Have you seen me on CBS Sunday Morning? Not yet. But people are reading my stories and tell me they have enjoyed the experience. I’ve even had a gushing fan blush and tell me she loves all of my stories. That was a little uncomfortable at first, but I could get used to it. Someday, the big publishing contract will come because the more I write, the more my world grows and the more my writing improves. See how this works?
My point? The next time you’re tempted to control your life and all that is around you, let go. You might be pleasantly surprised what happens.