Friday, June 30, 2017

Take the fork in the road

Take the fork in the road

     When you can’t find your place, create it.
     If you ask me, it’s a bold statement, and one that I borrowed from someone. It’s ideal for this time of year when our calendars are overflowing with graduations, reunions and wedding celebrations.
     Part of the fun of going to graduation parties is listening to the plans of young adults and hearing the excitement in their voices. They are out to save the world and they see no roadblocks that can’t be detoured in one or way or another. You have to love their optimism and energy. If they have been parented properly and given life’s tools, each will go for it and not be timid in creating a situation suitable for him.

     One graduate told me that she is going to get a degree in public health, and promote universal health care. The adults standing nearby were bemoaning the present state of affairs, and frankly, were thrilled to acknowledge a person willing to commit to bettering our future. They agreed that we need fresh new thoughts to wade through archaic ideas we have come to accept as the status quo.
     Another said that he is going into environmental conservation, and keeping our planet clean with proper water management. He’s been catching live things that wiggle in streams since he was a little boy, and it is natural that he follows the flow. 
     “I am going to be a pediatrician,” said another self-poised graduate.
     If I ever give any advice I usually say to know your strengths and your style.
     A grad agreed with me. He said that he chose the smaller rural college that offers his major and where he feels the most comfortable, rather than a huge city campus.  I didn’t hear the real story from him, though. Others interjected that there is a girlfriend nearby. That explains it all.
     It’s okay to be obsessive, too. People after their goals are consumed.
     When I asked a UR pre-med student about her choice of going into pediatrics and the amount of years it will take, she smiled telling me that it was part of her educational plan. She was working in the college lab with children and loved it so much that she decided to specialize.  Obviously, she had thought it all through.

     Pay attention to what is happening on the side.
     Look at the number of foodies and restaurant owners who loved cooking as a hobby, and have turned it into a blooming business.  There are many such venues and products right in Livingston County. Go to the East Avon Flea Market and you will notice people passionately selling their own invented creations from spices to bbq sauces. New breweries have cropped up by the initiative of entrepreneurs desiring fulfillment in addition to their main day job.
     Leave your options open and try not to get yourself pigeon-holed.
     Intelligent people have many varied interests and their windy path in life often provides for utilizing those skills in one manner or other. You marvel at the folks who are able to reinvent themselves over and over.
     An example might be the graduate who said, “I am getting a degree in business and I have no idea what I will be doing with it.”   
     All of us could use a reminder on how to move forward. Life is not so cookie cutter-clean anymore. There are more options over the horizon than ants crawling under the porch bench for a crumb of wedding cake.
       It takes a visionary person to see beyond the simplistic and set forth with lofty goals. Part of the accomplishment will be taking the risk, overcoming failures and braving the naysayers. Oh, there will be plenty of those folks who will try and steer you on a safer course.  

      When my daughter was turning 13, she asked for the complete works of William Shakespeare and an art book of Impressionistic painters for her birthday. First of all, I was thankful that her teachers were inspiring her, and secondly, that an ounce of culture was rubbing off.  You just never know as a parent during those preteen years. Since bookstores had ample coffee table art books on sale, I thought that I was getting away on the cheap side never ever dreaming that art would be her chosen field. Today she owns a Chelsea gallery.
      My daughter told me that she had 2 goals in mind when she graduated from college.  She was going to be selling art to the rich and famous rock and roll stars by the time she was 40  - she achieved that goal way earlier – and secondly, she wanted to make art accessible and relatable to every day people like you and me.
     I share her story not to brag – well, of course, I have to as a mother – but more to show an example of the possibilities if you take your life by the hands and seek a place for your talents.
     Yogi Berra, a favorite sports star of mine, made a quote that I caught with both hands. When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

     By the way, if you do get invited to the party, look for a need to be filled.  Take it upon yourself to be the one to handle it. That’s how you’ll fit right in and you will be appreciated for your helpfulness.