Every now and then a possibility shows up that seems almost magical in its design. A perfect situation that seems to be constructed just for me (and Max), even as it sends us spinning in a new direction. I have learned to leap at those opportunities and to follow the string of it where ever it leads me. To wholeheartedly and excitedly say yes to these possibilities when they show up. In big or small ways, they always lead somewhere essential and unexpected.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, when those opportunities appear and I have said my yes, I am suddenly awash in hopes and expectations. I find myself day dreaming about how amazing or fun or challenging or thrilling it will be. If I am not careful, I can suddenly in my excitement leap ahead imagining how it will look or feel, and what is going to be great and what is going to be hard and what is going to be different than we ever imagined it would be. I fantasize about lessons I will learn. I can get carried away.
Funny thing is, it never turns out exactly that way, and sometimes the possibilities dissolve as quickly as they materialize — like a mirage shimmering in the sun.
It could be an opportunity to host an foreign exchange student who doesn’t come, or a new job dangled in front of me only to be retracted. It could be a chance to partner on a cool creative project or to visit a place I have always wanted to go. It disappointing when that happens and I can find myself suddenly grieving something I never had, something that I didn’t even know I wanted until it sparkled in front of me like a fairy dust.
In the past, when the exciting opportunity slipped through my fingers like that, I could feel something like such a chump for daring to get excited about this unmanifested adventure. Who was I to believe that this exciting opportunity was meant for me? Who was I to believe that I that saying “yes” might carry me somewhere new? Who was I to get so–AHEAD of myself?
Truth is, in those moments I was so focused on the fact that I didn’t land where I thought I would, that I ignored the fact that the adventure had in fact already carried me somewhere–usually somewhere good, challenging or thought provoking. Someplace important. But instead of continuing to follow the string, I would drop it, not realizing that it hadn’t come to a bitter end. And I would get stuck.
But now, I am practicing the art of genuinely, excitedly, openly saying yes without attaching to the outcome. Because I am learning that often, its not the end result that matters, but what gets put in motion when I say yes that matters most.
Offering to host the student who is not coming may have inspired me to finally clean out the guest room, creating space for newness unimagined. The new job that falls through may have inspired me to view my talents in a new light or step into a new role in my current job. The work of readying myself for a project with a mentor may have set in motion a creative process that doesn’t need a partner. The cancelled trip to a dream location may be the thing that gets my travel itch going, readying me to say yes to a future journey that might have otherwise seemed daunting or undoable.
Truth is, every time we open ourselves up to adventure we are indeed swept a little further along the path leading to our dreams, even if we don’t end up where we thought we would. I am learning that sometimes these wonderful possibilities that never materialize may indeed be mirages–wonderful tricks the Universe may use to entice us out somewhere we might never have dared journey otherwise–somewhere uncomfortable or scary or exhausting or just simply counter-intuitive.
Once upon a time, past disappointment may have been thing that gave me pause next time an exciting adventure presented itself.
But now, I am beginning to peer beneath the surface of that disappointment and am finding that actually, really, the disappointment is the mirage. All it takes is a closer look to see what treasures actually were delivered.
Truth is, as a teacher I admire has said, I am (we all are) arriving, exactly where I need to, right on time.
And instead of throwing down the string that led me here in despair or annoyance, I am instead holding on lightly, following it centimeter by centimeter around blind corners and down dark alleys, learning as I go to trust the crazy places it may lead, squeezing the goodness out of every step.