On this beautiful autumn morning, after an action packed Halloween, one of my best friends, whom I travel this life with and also happens to be one of the most brilliant people I know, sent me a picture with the following inspirational quote: "Maybe it's not about the happy ending. Maybe it's about the story." I read this statement. And then I read it again. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. This statement and my ever so insightful friend are absolutely right. It's not about how it all ends, but the journey along the way.
Society teaches us this is how it should go: You go to school, you meet your wife or husband, you get married and have kids, you work, you grow old together, and at the end of it all, you die. In reality, the only thing that is sure, is that you die. What happens in between when we're born and when we die is the story. I am learning that for many people, life isn't just about checking off the boxes. Nor, should it be.
For a lot of my life, things seemed to go very smoothly. I had a no less than magical childhood, worked hard in school, got good grades, obtained the right internships, got into the right colleges and graduate schools, ended up with the "right" jobs, got married, and had two amazing kids. By all objective standards, everything was smooth sailing. Along the way, however, this seemingly fairy tale life got derailed. I was faced with challenges I never saw coming. The challenges are irrelevant, but what is pertinent to my point is that my story has now changed, and that's ok. Many peoples' stories take turns along the way and I think we need to embrace the change.
Here are some things I am learning:
1. Most people we choose to spend any time with, come into our life for a reason. Whether it be a friendship or a romantic relationship, whether it results in a painful ending or just moving on, whether it be for a short period or forever - there is a reason and a lesson to be learned each time. Every connection we have with another human being is important and part of our story. It may not be part of our "ending," but it is an experience that makes our life richer.
2. My amazing friend has also taught me the importance of appreciating "the moments." Instead of getting so worked up about what "will be" or how something will end, just stop and find joy in the happy moments. Life will always be full of stressors and unpleasant situations, enjoy and capture the happy moments without worrying about how it relates to the future, within reason of course.
3. It's important to stay busy and live life. So many people get stuck in the day to day grind, never push the boundaries, and get set in their ways. It's very difficult not to. I try to teach my girls that it's important to stay active and try new things. I take them to see and experience things and encourage them to leave their comfort zone. I've learned that it's out of your comfort zone that life really begins.
4. Make a bucket list. Then, make plans and do things that are on your list. Don't just think or dream about them, take action. Life is short. It is one hundred percent true that it could end tomorrow.
5. Spend time with the people that you care about, whether they be family or friends. Whether they be near or far away. Again, wait too long and you could lose the chance.
6. Pick a charitable cause and be passionate about it. For me, it's childhood cancer. Do something to help the world.
7. If you are not happy with what you're doing, do something else. You don't want a boring, miserable story.
8. Be kind to people and don't make assumptions. Everyone is going through something. Even when everything looks perfect from the outside, trust me, it's not.
9. If you want something, go after it. Do it today. Blink, and it could be gone. How unfortunate to lose something over the lack of guts to go for it. The world and the people in it don't wait.
10. Laugh as much as you possibly can. There is nothing better and more therapeutic than laughter. I would spend the rest of my life laughing, if I could. Realistically, I know life is interspersed with moments where the thought of laughter feels unattainable. I try to surround myself with people who can make me laugh the rest of the time.
I could keep going, but the bottom line is that at the end of the day and at the end of my life, I want it to have mattered that I was here. I want to do things that are important to society and be a great mother, friend, daughter, significant other, and human being. Regardless of what happens in the end, I know I am "living" life. I do hope there is a happy ending in the future. Don't we all? But, I'm learning that the ending is just that -- the ending. It's the story that makes up your life. Make it a good one.