I remember getting laid off from a job some years ago. It was just before Christmas and I was not a happy camper. At the time I remember being hurt, frustrated, and a bit shocked. I remember Chris was traveling for work in Turkey at the time and communicating with the time difference was complicated. The fact of the matter is that I wanted out, yet I had not walked away on my own. When things do not go the way that we plan, we fight back, get down on ourselves, and often wonder “why me?”
Yet, with hindsight we can often see the world with different eyes. Hindsight might take a few years, a few months, and sometimes with the smaller things just a few days. What matters is that we are able to reflect and see that where we end up is often so much better than where we were and that we learn, grow, and change as a result of these events in life. For me it was a job. For some it might be a marriage or friendship. For others maybe it is a health challenge.
I often think how we act and react in the world determines what our experience will be. I will give you an example. When I got laid off and had a few months of severance I could have relaxed and just kicked back. Instead I started this blog, I looked for jobs, and after three months landed a great one. Looking back though, yes I was successful in my endeavor, but the caveat was I did not take that time as downtime to explore and cherish that quiet time as much as I should have at the time. I was worried I would not find a job, that our income would be lacking, you know the list of things we tell ourselves.
I recently wrote about the book: “The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan. She writes about a job she herself lost and what her friend shared with her after the fact:
“’Your leaving was the best thing that could have happened, don’t you think?’ Walter asked. I looked at him in surprise, so he continued. ‘It didn’t make you happy at the time, but you would have been miserable staying there while he went off in all the wrong directions.’ Sometimes the simplest comment gives a new perspective.” Page 252
Kaplan is so right. Sometimes the smallest and largest things blow our life apart, and we are never the same, but often we are better for it. We just have to remember that sometimes life gets blown apart so it can be made even better.
Yesterday was Father’s Day, and it was not until a friend ask to switch our brunch plans to later in the day that I remembered what day it was. Often Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tend to fly by without much thought. My dad has been gone for 15 years as of this year, and it gets harder and harder to think about what my life would be life if he were here.
Recently we were talking about fishing at work. A few co-workers are fishing fans, and I was remembering a time when we stayed at a lake near our house in Indiana. I believe the cottage was owned by a friend of my grandma’s and every once in a while we got to go and stay with her, which meant playing in the lake and fishing. Something tells me what felt like a big lake at the time would probably look a lot like a pond to me now, but it always felt special and kind of a big deal to me.
I remember one weekend we visited, on the Saturday morning for some reason I slept really late, when I went outside to see what everyone was up to, I found my sister and brother were out fishing with my dad (this photo shows me standing on the pier, my brother is next to me, then my sister, then my dad). For as long as they had been out fishing, no one had caught a single fish. I asked my dad if I could use the bamboo fishing rod, that for some reason I thought was so special. My sister and brother were using real fishing rods. I did not like putting the bait on the end, so I left that up to my dad, and I doubt I even put the line in, but what I did do (which is completely against my nature) was sit and hold that bamboo rod, and eventually I caught a fish, and then another and another. My brother and sister eventually got bored, and most likely annoyed that I was having such luck. They went inside or off somewhere else to play.
It was just me and my dad and my happy success. I do not remember if we kept the fish and had them for dinner or if we put them back. What I remember was that I thought there was something special with that bamboo fishing rod, and that I got to spend some time fishing with my dad.
You can see all the fish I caught in this photo. I wish the photographer had not cut me out of the photo. I would love to see the look on my face showing my bounty. I know I have been fishing a few more times since then, probably while camping, maybe even with my dad, but that Saturday morning was the one I will never forget. He was happy, relaxed, and content to just sit on the side of the dock with his feet in the water, and watch us have fun with the process. Life was not usually that good to him (or so he thought) and so this year, Dad, I hope whatever you are doing, you are happy, relaxed and content. Wish we could go fishing again.