Yesterday after embarking on what promised to be a day chock full of errands doing all the stuff I have only eight days left to accomplish, the starter in my car decided to give up the ghost. This takes a sizable chunk out of our savings to head westward under the category of, “Those things you can never really plan for.” Given the state of mind I’ve been in this last month or so freaking out about the changes (and looking for any iota of a problem to back out of my plans) you’d think that I would have handled it a lot worse than I did.
Fortunately I had a stiff dose of perspective watching the Gabby Giffords special the other night.
I’ve got the money to fix the car, it just means we have to tighten our belts a little bit and not do some of the things I wanted to do. It’s not fighting my way back from a brain injury learning how to walk and talk again. This is, as Gabby so eloquently stated, “Life.” Being mad about it is a waste of precious energy.
So I didn’t get mad. I didn’t throw a Texas-sized hissy fit. I just leaned on the incredible support system of my family to figure out how to make things work because it’s too late to turn back now even if I wanted to. We are in forward motion and we’re going to stay that way. We all feel that we need to take this chance and we’re in it 100% together – that’s a gift and a blessing that I’d be an ungrateful idiot to ignore. Therefore Imma do the only thing I can do in the situation… let it go.
I’ve heard it said that you do what is in the realm of your control… that’s your job. Everything else you can’t control is God’s responsibility. So I think I’m going to get out of his way and let him do his job.
(And by the way prayer totally works. That and knowing an honest mechanic.)
We are still in good shape considering the unexpected expense. The first time I went to LA I went on a wing and a prayer, with Daniel by my side, a couple hundred bucks in my pocket and nothing in the world to call ours but the car we were driving. I had assumed having family out there would give us a leg up, but I quickly learned a very painful lesson about some of the people we call “family.” I was told in no uncertain terms I was on my own. To help me was a crutch she wasn’t willing to support, so she let me be the state of California’s problem.
(And ironically the government took better care of me… go figure.)
Fortunately that’s not the state of my family today. I have people who believe in my ability to succeed rather than just assuming I will fail (or am too lazy to try.) They don’t see giving me a hand up as a hand out; they WANT to help because I (who not even related by blood) *matter.*
What a revelation.
And this may come across as bitter but the truth is I am glad that I had that experience way back then. It did teach me to depend on no one else by myself. When it comes to my survival I learned at 19 no one is as invested in that as I am. It sucked but it made me stronger. It also helps give me perspective that I’m in a LOT better shape now than I was then. If I could make it even when I was homeless, jobless and living out my car, having a few hundred dollars less in my pocket now isn’t going to break me.
Even though I’m in the “famine” part of the feast and famine dynamic of freelance writing, I still have money coming in and work to be done. Is it ideal? No. Is it as much as I was counting on (and previously enjoyed?) No. But that keeps me hungry enough to work even harder toward success in my desired field. Failure is not an option. I need to stop thinking of MYSELF in terms that certain members in my aforementioned “family” used to. Instead of believing that I’m just an unlucky, impulsive ne’er do well who lives to leech off of others, I choose to believe what the people invested in my success tell me – that I CAN do this and that I DO deserve to succeed.
Most importantly I’m NOT in this alone, as evidenced by the fact the way my immediate family (Steven and the kids) rallied to meet this new challenge so it doesn’t have to set us back.
For that reason I know California is the place we need to be, to further surround ourselves with those people who prop us up and encourage us to be all that they believe we can be.
So these are not problems. These are lessons in the making to show me what I am capable of so that I can grow into something better and stronger. I’m not that same 19-year-old flying on a wing and a prayer. I’ve hit rock bottom and crawled my way back up again and in doing so I learned the most important lesson of all. I may not be able to change, predict or control what happens to me – but I certainly can control how I respond to it. This is “life.” As that clock endlessly ticks away every moment, my time is way too precious to spend any of it moping about some unraveled expectations.
I was promised nothing and as such am entitled to nothing. Every good thing is a blessing, not a right… and should be treasured rather than taken for granted simply because I don’t have these other things. When it’s all said and done I have a lot of things I can be grateful for, not the least of which the ability to be happy during the journey no matter the ultimate destination.
What I know for sure is this: Happiness is not some elusive bird who lights upon your shoulder through a random luck of the draw when everything is going according to plan. It’s a choice you make every new day you are blessed to open your eyes. With every new breath you can face the world with renewed conviction that it doesn’t matter what happened yesterday. Today is going to be better because I choose faith over fear and determination over worry. I find no comfort in being a cynic. I’d rather live each day happy and wrong than bitter and right.
I can’t control where I’ll end up in the next year, five years, ten years or beyond. What I can control is my peace of mind while I get there – wherever “there” happens to be. I know in the end I have everything I need to be withstand these bumps in the road which are so tiny in comparison to the challenges of others.
It’s time to pull up my big girl pants and square my jaw to face life head-on. Each crack in the road is just one more reason to stretch my legs as I jump over them.
In the immortal words of Don Henley and Glenn Frey… “we’re scared, but we ain’t shakin’…Kinda bent, but we ain’t breakin'”
I know we’re gonna make it in the Long Run.