Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sometimes Life Doesn't Turn Out the Way We Planned

One of my favorite old movies is While You Were Sleeping. I remember first seeing it at an early showing with my friend Geri, whose wedding is coming up next month. It starts and ends with Lucy saying, “Sometimes life just doesn’t turn out the way you planned.”
I was so reminded of that today when I was talking to my friend Shannon who has just returned from a trip with her son to her cousin’s home in California. Their trip included a day at Disneyland that was beyond “magical,” in a negative sense of the word. With the typical heat and madness of a busy day at Disney, including a potty training faux pas, being vomited on, and totally bewildering the Disney staff, she said it was more like a “comedy of errors” —an experience that they’ll all laugh about long into old age.
And it’s true: Life often doesn’t turn out the way we plan. Sometimes that’s weighty, —with illness, pain, and rejection. Sometimes it’s wonderful, like Geri’s upcoming wedding. And, sometimes it’s just Disney beyond belief. If we live long enough, we get to experience some of each.
Right now, I know people struggling with the hardest things life can send our way and others on top of the world. Most days, thankfully, I live in-between. It’s a good reminder for me to appreciate the mundane—the day-to-day work of teaching kids, grading papers, and walking and eating with Jay each night. To still be mesmerized by the first snow on the Peak, even after 23 years of living in Colorado Springs; to be elated over a baby’s first tooth; to smile and be smiled back at. To know that even when life is dismal, it is still good.
At the end of the movie, Lucy reiterates: “Yes, life doesn’t always turn out the way we’d planned.” Sometimes that’s regretful; sometimes it isn’t. Either way, life is a gift.

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