Playing Life by Ear
Copyright 2013 Roberta Gallagher
A month or more ago a 37 year old man living near Orlando, Florida went to bed early and the earth opened and swallowed him up (technical name “Sinkhole”). This is an ironic and dramatic end to a rather ordinary life. We cannot be safer than in our own beds. Pull the covers over your head to hide from the events we cannot control.
What I can safely say is that control is an illusion. It is comforting to make plans and have goals so long as we realize that true power lies in our ability to deal with the unexpected. Resilience and the strength to deal with our fear of the unknown is our true power.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” The strengths that lie inside of me were created by growing up in a chaotic household where the family crest (if we were high class enough to have a crest) was “Do it if you feel like it.”
I went to what was called Junior High School, grades 7, 8 and 9. In 9th grade the Principal called me in his office and said that I had 29 days of absence and although my grades were middling I would not graduate if I had one more day of absence. He proceeded to question me, obviously thinking that my parents did not know of my absences.
The truth is – they knew – they did not much care. In fact, my Mom thought it was funny that he thought that her “good child” would do something behind her back. I did not miss another day. I made that decision not out of fear but because I wanted to move on.
I am very satisfied with what I have accomplished in my 73 years and yet I never had a plan or a goal. I have become an expert in relationships because I have had so many. I became an expert in self-discipline because I had so little.
What lies within me is the power to choose a direction and put one foot in front of the other until I get there even though I may despise the tasks that must be completed to get to my goal. I lead my life counter-intuitively and it has been at times a painful depressing experience and at other times gloriously free.
There may be insights in my journey that will be useful to you.
Or maybe not.