Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that make us stop and think about life as we know it.
Recently I found myself in such a situation, and it prompted me in to thinking about circumstance; about how we can’t always curate our lives no matter the planning we put in, no matter the hours we spend obsessing and constructing. I am one of those people who cannot stand leaving things to chance. I have to have a plan; even if the plan is wonky or flawed there has to be something in place – it’s what keeps my bones together.
When I was 15 I decided I would grow up to be a journalist. Although my plans altered and adapted as time and situations passed it was still a path I followed in my mind and in my actions. At a certain age I’d marry. Then I’d have kids. Then a dog would follow. Everyone thinks like that, to some extent – I’m not alone in my ignorance. In my mind there was a linear timeline of events that would pan out through my life; everything would happen in the order that I had imagined for it.
But then life threw a curve-ball at me. And then another. And another. On it went and each time something new and unplanned was hurled at me I would adapt – because that’s what we are born to do. The plan would be revisited. Re-imagined. Tailored to suit the new situation – for better or for worse. It wasn’t ideal, no. It wasn’t what I had originally wanted for myself; but it was okay. And actually, I was quietly proud of myself for being able to survive the things I didn’t think I ever could have. When a therapist told me that I was resilient I congratulated myself on it, thinking it was a strength I possessed that would see me through anything that was thrown my way.
But I was wrong again.
Because you see, even the best laid plans can fall apart. And even the strongest or most resilient of people can struggle to pick up the pieces after something bad has happened in their life. And even if you think you’re ready to take anything on, the chances are you’re not.
So when this latest bad news was delivered to me, I finally came to understand that although I thought I was prepared for sadness, upheaval, change etc… I really was not. And in part I still think it’s down to the fact that I hadn’t planned for this to happen so I hadn’t ever imagined it as a scenario that could play out. It made me think that I had a taken a lot for granted, just expecting things to be a given because well, I was too ignorant to imagine an alternative.
Now I feel as if I finally understand the fickle nature of life. And I’m just about beginning to wrap my head around the idea that you can’t truly plan a single thing in life; each day is precious and you never know what’s around the corner. But that’s not where this post ends.
I still believe in planning a future. I still believe in hoping for things. I won’t stop trying to carve the path I want for myself and my life even if in the end those plans don’t come to fruition. I won’t give up on my hope for a better future.
That said, I will appreciate and treasure the smaller things in life that I failed to appreciate and treasure before all of this happened. I will stop taking things and people for granted. I will not overestimate my ability to cope when things are tough. And I will take each day as it comes. Each day of rain, of wind and of storm.
Because like a wildflower, I will seek beauty in the bleakest of landscapes. Moments of happiness in a time that stretches ahead with uncertainty.
Like a wildflower, I will grow where I am planted. I have to bloom and strive towards the sun in order to survive- we all do.