Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Me

This week, a couple of my blog buddies have written about their pasts and “what if” they had taken a different path—what would their lives be like?

I think it’s the change in seasons—I’ve noticed that for some reason, fall seems to bring out the introspective side of people.

So of course, they both got me thinking, too—what if my life had taken a different path? Would I be a professional musician (trombonist) in a famous band, playing on some late-night t.v. show? Or would I be an elementary school teacher, living on a farm in some small town? (Wow, I would really hope for the former, over the latter!)

And then I started to think about what I thought life was all about ten, twenty, even thirty years ago.

Thirty years ago, I was just a wee little girl of almost seven years old. I was very shy and very sensitive, and I would cry at the drop of a hat, especially to certain songs (for some reason, “Silent Night” and “Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)” by Sue Thompson always put me in tears). But I was also a very happy child, riding bikes with my best friend Cari and pretending we were “Daisy 1” and “Daisy 2” from the Dukes of Hazzard (how creative, huh?), and playing down by “The Crick,” a little creek around the corner from our house.

I loved to write and dreamed about being a great writer someday. (My sister Sheri was a very talented artist, so I figured I would write the books, and she would illustrate them.) I also wanted to be a teacher and a nun, and I idolized the third-grade teacher, Sister Clarine. I thought I would grow up and be just like her, a nun living in a small town, teaching in a Catholic school—and of course, doing some writing on the side.

And in the blink of an eye it seems, ten years went by.

At the age of 17, I was excited that I’d be starting college soon. I wondered what life would be like for me in college, whether I could handle being away from home so much, would I make lots of friends, would I party a lot (um, yeah), would I get a chance to play the trombone in our college’s jazz band—but mostly, would I meet the man of my dreams? Oh, and yeah, I did think at least a little about my future career. I still wanted to be a teacher, so I had decided to major in Elementary Education…but what I mainly wanted to do (even at that age) was to get married and settle down. I thought I would live the rest of my life as an elementary school teacher, living somewhere in Wisconsin with my soulmate.

And even more quickly, the next ten years flew by…

Ten years ago, my soulmate and I had just moved to Chicago, and I was a brand new, starry-eyed city girl feeling excited--and admittedly, nervous--by the possibilities of living in a big city. How different would my life be, living in downtown Chicago? Would I be able to handle not having a car, and taking public transit everywhere? Would I be scared to go out by myself at night? Would I find a job that I liked?

I also had high hopes about how my life might really take off in the big city. Would I finally fulfill my dream of acting on stage?—would I be good at it?—would I be discovered and become a famous actor? Would we then have to move to L.A.? (Yes, I really thought this. Like I said, I was starry-eyed.)

And oh so suddenly, it is now ten years later, and I’m still married to the man of my dreams, loving city life (and not owning a car), and working in a job that I love. I did do some acting, but no, I did not make it big…yet! That would actually require working hard at being an actor, and I’m not so much into the working hard thing—at least, not when I’m not getting paid a dime for it. But who knows, maybe someday I will change my mind.

Who knows what the future will bring? It’s clear to me from looking back on the past 30 years of my life, that I’ve never really known what to expect. I could never have expected my life to turn out the way it is right now, and I think that’s the brilliance and magic of living.

If we knew what to expect, where would the excitement be? I think it would be awfully boring.

Looking back like this also reminds me of how quickly life moves on. While I was busy making plans for my future, where did the time go?

There have definitely been so many little happy moments in my life, and right now, I am vowing to try to really live every moment, and appreciate my life for what it really is—this moment. Right here and right now. I am profoundly grateful for it.

10 comments:

Buck said...

Wonderful post!

One thing I've learned, is that every ten years you'll always be surprised at where life's adventure has brought us.

If you're not, then you're doing something wrong.

sageweb said...

That was fun! I always wonder the same thing...well not the exact same things..but my version

Barb said...

What a great post! I've tried to explain to my children, little and big, that you are no where near the person you will be in 10 yrs from now. It would be interesting for me to look back on my own life in 10 yr increments. Thanks.

rosemary said...

Really nice post....

"While I was busy making plans for my future, where did the time go?"

You have no idea how fast it really does go.

"I am vowing to try to really live every moment, and appreciate my life for what it really is—this moment."

Best advice in the whole world, Carla.

Random Thinker said...

My advice to young high school graduates is always "Enjoy every moment. You can't get them back." It's true, you can't. But as you've shown here, you can look back on them and marvel at the journey you've taken.

Mom said...

Life is such an exciting adventure. thanks for the recap of memories of what might be along with the joy of what is.

MaryRuth said...

A wonderful post--and serves to remind us that who knows what the future holds...and to keep an open mind. Wishing you many more decades to enjoy.

Sling said...

On the one hand,I look back over half a century and marvel at how it is I ended up in this place,at this time..
But,when I consider that I am the sum total of my experience,it all makes perfect sense.
Every day is an adventure!

Fantastic Forrest said...

This was a great post. Thinking of how your life goes in unexpected ways and making peace with it, being happy with where you are...I always think of you as Miss Happypants. :-D

Here's a clip for you about this issue. If you haven't seen the film, I hope you'll rent it. Good stuff. I love the Lennon line "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKAVPajd4wQ&feature=related

mike@ahamoment.com said...

Wonderful post! I love your perspective as well as your enthusiasm!
I'm gonna paste a link below, to a video by Leah, which tells the story of how she met her soulmate. It's a really nice piece. Take a look and I hope you agree.
Thanks,
Mike.
http://www.ahamoment.com/vote/leah