My husband and I visited the beach in Rhode Island this weekend. It's March. It's off season and it was cold. But if you've never been to the beach off season you really should try it.
In March, rather than the water saying, Look at me, Come Play!, it roars, Look at me, I am an Awesome Wonder. See my Beauty, Fear my Power.
It makes one contemplate all that is and will be in this fleeting life.
At another beach, on another wintry day, we are looking ahead, walking towards the ferris wheel. We were still dating at the time and trying to work out how/if we would combine two households and three children across two states into something that resembled a family. It seemed so impossible and so far away. Much like that ferris wheel. We were about halfway to the ferris wheel and I turned around to see the path we had taken. Our steps were laid out so clearly in the un-trampled sand. And I learned a few lessons in that instant.
1. It's hard to walk forward if you're constantly looking backwards. Let the past be in the past. It's over and done with. Turn away from it and walk towards your future. Surely that is the lesson Lot's wife teaches us, whether you are looking back on wrongs you committed or wrongs that were committed against you.
2. The future is closer than you think. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other. You'll get there. There's no point stopping to whine about how far or hard it is. But do enjoy the scenery along the way.
3. The path to your goals is wider than you think. There was no paved road leading to our ferris wheel. But the general direction was good enough. It's a big target. You'll adjust your steps along the way as needed. You'll get there.
A friend of mine graduated from college with a degree in communications and no sense of direction. Being the first college graduate in her family, she thought all she would need was a piece of paper and doors would magically open.
After college she proceeded to work at a bunch of seemingly unrelated little jobs. At one place she worked in the marketing department on ad campaigns. In another place she helped with accounting. In yet another place she worked making small desktop databases. It seemed like each job was so random. She just took what she could find.
After about 10 years of that, her husband was packaged out of his position as a corporate real estate salesman and he decided to start his own company. Of course she wanted to support him and so she started doing as much of the back office support as she could. As money eventually started coming in, she was able to leave her job and focus 100% on the business.
And one day, we talked about how great it was that she was able to design the company logo, build it's databases, manage it's books, handle all of the correspondence needs, etc. And it became quite apparent that all those "random jobs" she had worked weren't actually random at all. They were preparing her for a destiny she had no idea was ahead of her.
My question to you then is have you considered that you may have needed all the experiences you've had in order to fulfill your passion and feel successful? As a writer, do you find you have topics to write on and a unique viewpoint because of the life experiences you’ve had?
My hypothesis is that as random or even errant or unrelated as pieces of the path may have seemed, you may just find that they were in fact stair steps and building blocks to prepare you for just where you needed to be.
Just something to think about.
My first essay contest could have gone better. It was 8th Grade, Mrs. K’s English class. Not exactly my favorite place to be as an awkward 12 or 13 year old who was too shy to speak up in class. But I loved reading and writing nonetheless. I was a decent student in her class and was excited when she announced that our city was having an essay contest for students to write about what made our city beautiful. It was a short essay, 250 or 500 words as I recall but I knew I was a good writer and I thought I would have a shot at one of the prizes. Still, my parent wasn’t on the PTA and we went to the “other” middle school so even if I did write a good essay I felt the cards were stacked against me.