And yet, here we were, on the first floor, full of hope that makes us giddy and new promises we intend to keep. I expected to dread being in this building where so much fell apart, but I found myself grateful for the reminder. If we can’t remember the wrong turns, we’re bound to get lost again.
In recent years, the two weeks surrounding & including Christmas and New Year’s has also brought with it a chance for me to hole up & hibernate in the quiet outer-ring suburb of Cleveland in which my parents reside. I spend days on end changing from one set of pajamas (if I’m motivated enough to change in the first place) and only travel as far as the distance between one soft surface– my cozy bed– and one of the couches sprinkled throughout their house.
This is my favorite time of the year because I find myself relaxing like I forget to any other season. I give myself permission (I mean, more than usual…) to amputate my phone from my side and leave it unattended for hours on end. And, thanks to our #26books endeavor that took over 2011, I have made it my own holiday tradition to hit the pavement hard and try to tackle as many books as possible to add on to my year’s reading list & page count.
The above selection came to me while I am in the midst of 2 other books that I can’t power through all at once (though I’m enjoying them! I swear!) via a gift from a thoughtful and loving colleague at a very (eerily) fitting time (let’s just leave it at this– Thursdays of 2012, I’ll be glad when we part ways for good). The book is Life Happens, written by lifelong Clevelander & fascinating/brilliant journalist Connie Schultz. I have had the privilege of meeting Ms. Schultz in my short time as a young professional and her book lets her opinionated, fiery, you-go-girl self shine through 1,000 times brighter than the conference lecture setup of my in-person encounter.
Connie has some phenomenal prose woven into just the first 57 pages of her book (as far as I’ve gotten this afternoon), but for some reason this one attached itself to me like a barnacle to a pirate ship. Ends of years always bring about a reflective mood for where we’ve traveled and what we’ve experienced that trip around the sun, but I think it’s good to take the Jesuit’s “Examen” approach and make sure we’re asking what went well AND what didn’t so we can use that as a space to breathe more life into during upcoming months.
There certainly isn’t anything wrong with taking an uncharted path or making a right turn when perhaps we should’ve made a left, but they’re all things that, in the end, add to the total mileage of our lives so we should learn to be grateful for even the most devastating heartbreaks or professional blunders or misspeaks or bad calculations. Getting lost isn’t the element to be ashamed of; it’s blocking out those experiences so fully that we forget which turns were wrong to begin with. Besides, you might’ve just been going a different way on the right road all along…
And, in the meantime, a little Mark Baldwin to help all of us embrace a little more fully the times we read the map wrong in the next 365 days:
You’re on the right road if you’re happy when you’re lost.