As the layer of ice melts from the river and temperatures creep above freezing in the city of Chicago, hibernating residents crawl from their lair’s to soak up fresh air and any sunshine that might peak through the clouds. Watching Chicago come alive each spring invigorates me and pulls me out of the dreary, stubborn funk of winter.
As I joined the throngs crossing the river at Michigan Avenue last week, the warming igloos and patio heaters struck me. I stopped in my tracks, snapped a photo and thought, “There are lots of ways to do life.”
The idea is neither new nor earth-shattering. And why it popped into my head at that moment I can’t be certain.
Maybe because May 1 is the deadline for high school students to ‘declare’ which college they will choose from those they’ve been accepted to and in Facebook feeds across the country proud parents shared acceptance letters and athlete signing ceremonies. And I know that for every proud post, another parent and child cry tears of disappointment that they didn’t get accepted anywhere – and they feel life is ruined. After all, you ‘should’ go to college.
Or because I watched (peripherally) as young college-aged men with talent and potential got auctioned off at the NFL draft – like children standing in a playground hoping to be the first picked for kickball, or at least not the last. And I shook my head when I learned that the final draft pick is nicknamed “Mr. Irrelevant” because he will probably never see ‘game day.’ So many dreams shattered.
Or because a friend worried what others would think of the ‘arrangement’ she has with her ex-husband as they balance the love for their children with the ‘I can’t stand you’ gut-reaction they feel for one another.
Or because I listened as a friend shared frustration that her mother decided to stop chemotherapy treatments that did little to improve the few months she has left because she ‘should’ fight.
I watch & I listen & I think, “There’s lots of ways to do life.“
When we are disappointed, disillusioned, and devastated by the realities of life – by failed relationships, struggling careers, ill health, or shattered dreams – let’s take a moment to regroup and remember “there’s lots of ways to do life.“
Sometimes we need to dig deep and even dive into dark places to discover who we are and who we want to be. But through the pain of letting go of what we thought we were supposed to do and how we had to be –
We recognize our limitations, own our mistakes,
celebrate our strengths and re-imagine our futures.
Instead of twisting ourselves in knots trying to be perfect, following ‘shoulds’ and regretting ‘could’ve’, let’s ‘do life‘.
And while we’re at it, can we please stop pointing fingers,
whispering rumors, and judging those who ‘do life’ differently.