It was a day like many others — crisp air, bright sun, and an after-school schedule that needed to be planned with the precision of a Navy SEALs team if it have any chance of success.
It hadn’t, and so it didn’t.
We were en route to a soccer game, except that we couldn’t seem to get ourselves en route. The kids were in the van, and we were ready to go. Mostly. I kept running back into the house to get things I’d forgotten – lawn chair, snacks, arctic-rated jacket and boots.
We even made it to the end of the driveway once, until the OCD voices wondered if I’d left my hair straightener on.
Finally we were on our way. I looked out the window and noticed a flock of Canada Geese flying north. North? In fall? Thinking out loud I said, “Why would those guys be heading NORTH at this time of year?”
The quick and only half-amused reply from the back seat was, “Maybe their MOM forgot something… “ Heh.
Okay, a little background here. One – my kids make me laugh, so much. They’re so clever. Those kinds of cracks, while generally at my expense, speak love to me.
B – I’m pretty good at some things: I can name a lot of 80’s rock songs in less than 5 seconds. I can power nap in 11 minutes. And while I don’t really like cooking, I make a pretty amazing peach pie.
iii – In a lot of the non-essentials (aka not pie), I’m pretty scatterbrained and disorganized. I forget things. I’m not a great planner. I don’t put any of this on my resume, of course…
I fly by the seat of my pants. When people talk about events in the far-distant future (ie later that week), I find myself not even listening. Because what would I do with that kind of unrelated information?
So what happens when you throw my kind of personality together with the kind of personality who plans? Someone who plans and organizes and just seems to be more comfortable that way?
When you put these personalities together, there can be, ummm…. tension.
For most of my life, I thought that there was really only one way to do things. That there is always a right way and a wrong way. That all conflicts must have a winner and a loser. That everything is black and white.
I’ve gotten (ahem) older, and life has happened, and I’ve gotten to know more people — people who are different from me. And as I hear their stories, it seems that very few things (if any) are black and white.
I think I’m finally getting to the age where I know enough to know that I don’t know very much. Too often it’s been the opposite.
I’m not saying there aren’t certainties. But I am saying that I’m pretty sure I now have way less of them than I used to. Especially regarding a path I’ve never walked. Or a pain I’ve never felt. I’ve been wrong about this often enough that I’m starting to get the picture.
Before I had kids, I could look at a child and quickly diagnose any parenting failure. Bad behaviour in the grocery store? If these folks would just take their child by the hand, look them in the eye and gently but firmly say, “We do not write our names in spray-cheese before we’ve paid for it.”
The list of things I used to be an expert on is extensive. (see Appendix A) Ha.
Or maybe I’ve take a hard and clear stance on something my whole life. And then a friend or family member is smack dab in the middle of it, and the answers don’t seem so simple anymore.
I have my own experiences. And those are, in many ways, the only things I really know. And they are valuable — to me and to others. Just like others’ are to me, if I am willing to listen.
I like reading memoirs, hearing people’s stories. We see their path, and we think, “That must be the right path. That’s the right way to do it.” But that was their path. And it may have included many side roads, stumbles and rising again. Some of which may even have been needed.
We connect to people who are real. Maybe connection is more valuable than finding a single right way. Somehow we all need to walk our own path. It’s how we grow, and it’s how we help others grow.
We can create space for that. Maybe this is a good space to start.