Growing up I was given the usual story from my parents, that i was unique, i was special… That i could do anything I put my mind to. The world was my oyster, and only hard work stood between myself and success. In fact that generation then imposed that will over the years and changed the landscape as much as they could. The US was a superpower, and nothing was going to hurt us, hell we upset the Russians in hockey in 1980, what could go wrong.
Now that isn’t to say there were a true few who were special and stood out. But it wasn’t everyone who stood out, and it was not everyone who was born for stardom. The question became, then what was I born to do, what my plan, what was I destined to do (if you believe in destiny) And also, what do I say to my kids, who want to be something/someone. It has been 50 years of my life, and guess what, I still do not know the answer to any of those questions.
I really thought from a young age, the story we were told was true, go to college, get a degree, get a job, have a career and a family, and you will be happy. My path was never that straight forward, I didn’t think I was ready for college when I went, I had no idea of my disability (more on that on other writings) and no Idea what the difference between success and failure was. My younger life was filled with setbacks and tragedy, that a family motto was “It is only a minor inconvenience” Please note, this was used to describe my sister battling cancer.
Now before I get the “oh poor you…” do not bother, because it was a part of my daily life, it didn’t bother me. I knew what I had to do, i had figure out what it was to survive. One of the best stories I remember was I came home from school/tennis practice and in front of my house was a fire truck and several police cars. I walked past all the people into the house to make my dinner and get on with my evening. When my parents asked why i didnt ask what was going on, I said I saw them, figured my brother did something, and figured they would tell me later.
I think at this age, I should have ruled out making plans, that someone was trying to tell me, that we are going to throw curve balls at you, no matter what you do. I still set my sights on going to school (Carnegie Mellon) working in AI and getting a job etc. Well most of you know my life story, I did not follow that path directly. And every time a curve ball came, and came up with a new plan. I felt like Pinky and the Brain trying to take over the world, just the plans were more realistic in my mind. And as each one failed, I guess I should have been more phased that I was, I usually freaked out for a while, then figured another plan.
Up until May of this year, I thought what I had was great plan. I married the perfect person for me, We had 2 beautiful daughters, and were planning out life after they left the house. My Wife unexpectedly passed away, and again I was stuck trying to figure out what the next plan is going to be. Its Five months later, and I am taking it to day to day. I have a sorta plan, just a plan to get thru the next few months. For the first time I have not planned out to the future. It is not that I dont want to, but for the first time I think the lesson I never learned was that don’t plan to far ahead, instead dream and try to make your dreams come true. Between those two there is a fine line, but they are different.
And the second lesson I learned over the last few months, is that I am not unique. I knew this, but what i didnt know was how hard everyone I know lives have been. How they have overcome a lot. Many of my friends who became doctors were told, they wouldnt make it as a Dr, many paths were just as wiggled as my own. And when someone tells my Samantha she wont make is as a Doctor, my response has been, lets talk to a few, and let them tell you what they were told. The typical response, they were told “do something else, you dont have what it takes” … When Ariel is told she is too small to be an athlete, I tell her “Prove them wrong” “Stuff it in their faces…” and in many cases she does. Just ask the Colonials a few weeks ago.
Maybe at 50 years I do know the answer, and I do know what to say… And maybe people should take a quick look around, the journey for many has not been easy, and maybe since we are in this together we should look at becoming better people, and help each other a little more. I know I try to do the best I can, and hope others are willing to do so.