Having a daughter who just graduated from high school, I, along with her and all the graduates and guests of graduates, listened to a week full of advice on what these young people can expect during this next phase of their lives.
I’m hearing a lot about the importance of planning and preparation.
Of course that makes sense… to a point.
It’s better and wiser to live your life with goals and plans than without them. That much I know. Well thought out plans give your life direction and help keep you from getting distracted from reaching your goals.
But I also know life is not an interstate highway. It’s not like you can just go to Mapquest and plan your life around interesting sites and good restaurants along the way to your destination.
No… life is more like interstates… that unpredictably turns into two-lanes, and then windy little country roads, and then maybe a country lane, and then maybe a path that you’re not even sure is a path.
You sure don’t always know what you’re going to find when you get to the end of it. And all along the way, there are forks in the road… decisions. Should I take the fork to the right? Or the one to the left? Sometimes you can follow your gut instinct, and sometimes you’re just plain taking a shot at one, because you can’t just sit there and idle forever… you’ve got to make a move.
So why is life like that? Why can’t it be a simple interstate that takes you where you want to go?
Because the truth is… life changes… you change… and the roads are always changing.
I think back to 1978, when I graduated from Doniphan High School.
I had some basic ideas about how I wanted my life to turn out. I knew I loved writing. And I knew that I was going to have to move away from home to someday be able to come back to home. I pictured myself someday in a little house… well… maybe a big house… on Current River, writing the great American novel. I knew certain steps along the way were going to be necessary… like college.
But, beyond that, I had no idea what my future would hold.
And now I realize there is no way I could predict the future.
How could I have predicted the internet? How could I have predicted that I would have some great relationships in my life, but that relationships also change? How could I know that I would change? My priorities would change?
And that is what I tell my daughters today. The only constant in life is change. You will change. Sometimes people outgrow relationships. Sometimes you learn the most about life through the things that don’t go right. Sometimes you learn the most important lessons through what you think is unbearable pain and heartbreak. You learn that sometimes, the best you can do is survive.
Survive today. Figure out tomorrow… tomorrow.
And don’t be too hard on yourself, or anyone else. Most people do the best they can under the circumstances of the time.
You’re going to feel lost sometimes. You’re not always going to be 100 percent sure of your decisions. And sometimes, you end up not even close to where you thought you would be when you arrive at your destination.
But… that’s the beauty of not always taking the interstate. If you always took the interstate, you’d miss out on a lot of great scenery. Unpredictability is actually one of the greatest joys in life.
It’s kind of exciting not always knowing what’s ahead.
Tammy Hilderbrand is the owner of Hilderbrand Diamond Company in Poplar Bluff, which can be found online at www.hilderbranddiamondcompany.com. You can reach her by emailing email@example.com.