Did you ever get the impression that somehow you had to have life all figured out in advance before you began? When I was in high school, I remember taking vocational aptitude tests. My guidance counselor thought I’d make a good house painter when I finished high school. That was in my freshman year. In my sophomore year, it was to be an attendant at an animal shelter. My junior year, I forgot. I guess I wasn’t paying attention. That was the year I failed English, math, and shop. Come on now, I mean, how can you fail shop? Well, I guess by thinking that making something with a piece of 1” X 12”, slapping on two handles and a coat of stain, and calling it a tray would really excite me and get my creative juices flowing.
Oops! I think I just leaked a bit of attitude. By my senior year, I was really getting it together. I actually passed English, despite being forced to read authors who were alcoholic, schizophrenic, or both—a few of whom I actually enjoyed, I think. Anyway, I skipped school a lot and spent countless hours at home reading books I really did enjoy. I was quite blessed that my mother had accumulated a sizable library in our home. Since my parents were divorced, my mother had to work and ended up being the director of a major library system in New York City. Lucky me! I got to spend a lot of time in libraries. To this day, I still read two to three books a week and have personally authored over thirty books myself.
So, by my senior year my guidance counselor really had it nailed down. That was the year I had won many art awards, sold a number of paintings, and had my artwork on display in the front windows of Lord and Taylor in NYC. I also won awards for sculpture, and did quite well with drama and speech. The accuracy of the vocational aptitude tests was mind-numbing! They finally found out what I should do for a vocation. Hold your seat—it was to be a watch repairman!
Oh, you could just imagine my disappointment when I was rejected for my position in watch repair. (Hee hee, yes, I’m joking!) I certainly do admire those folks who do this valuable work: those able to concentrate for long hours on fixing tiny, incremental parts. Focusing on such detailed work takes a special talent. I guess I didn’t have it. Instead, I ended up selling several paintings to a doctor who had a famous Italian artist as a patient. The artist offered me a job and I went to work for him in his commercial art studio in a penthouse in NYC.
At the time, I may have had some disappointment that many of my plans didn’t actually work out. I’ve now accepted that as one of the “givens” of life. I’ve also become very comfortable about not needing to know what the future will hold, I simply reside in the conviction that I’m sure it will be beautiful. As Goethe wrote, “Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.” So as I’ve learned to make fewer emotional appointments, I’ve had far fewer disappointments and found that hidden within circumstances are always new opportunities waiting to be exposed.
Had I locked myself into a role that others thought would be best, I’d have never found myself experiencing the joy I have this moment in writing to you. So any sense of disappointment you may feel about your plans going awry may simply be a new opportunity in disguise.
Reflections from Turtle Lake,
p.s. Please be certain to check out my latest book, Finding Heart—How to Live with Courage in a Confusing World. You’ll find it on Amazon Kindle.