“The key to success is often the ability to adapt.”
When I was a little girl – three, maybe four – my favorite phrase was “roll with the punches and make the best of things.” I apparently doled out that advice to anyone who would listen, which says a lot, seeing as how I was pretty much the quietest kid ever when I was around people I didn’t know. Fast forward more than two decades, and I find myself needing to remember that go-with-the-flow attitude more than ever. As a planner and a doer, that’s tough sometimes. After all, when you have your future mapped out and it’s just a matter of having all the steps fall into place, you want that to happen as soon as possible. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t the case. I’d be lying if I said I don’t wake up every morning and wish for it to be the day that changes my life.
But what about the changes we can never imagine? What about the ones that come out of nowhere, take us by storm, and alter the course we’ve been sailing along so steadily? We can’t always control the direction we travel – sometimes a burst of wind makes everything all topsy-turvy – but we can anchor the boat and steer it along a current of our own choosing. Case in point: my mother had a bad fall over the summer (an errant wave knocked her down in the ocean) and has been going to physical therapy for a fractured knee for nine months now. And, as fate would have it, it’s her right knee, which means she can’t drive. On top of that, my grandmom had an equally bad fall two weeks ago and ended up with three different fractures. Note to self: walk very, very carefully for … well, forever. My grandmom’s at an in-patient rehab facility for a few weeks until she heals enough to go home, which means lots of visits and pick-me-ups. It also means that I may as well just be living in my car these days. Between driving my mom to PT and driving her to visit my grandmom (keep in mind, this rehab place is thirty-five minutes away without traffic), I’m pretty sure that I could navigate the roads with my eyes squeezed shut. It is, of course, more than worth it – the look on my grandmom’s face when we walk into her room and the sweet gratitude that’s reflected in every word remind me that I’d drive to the ends of the earth if I had to – but it’s also an adjustment. An adaptation. A change to the schedule.
Does it mean waking up even earlier to squeeze in a few hours of writing time every morning? Yes. Does it mean printing out some pages to edit as I wait during my mom’s PT sessions? Yes. Does it mean wanting to bang my head against a brick wall whenever one of the employees there feels the need to whistle EVERY SINGLE TIME a new song comes on the radio? Anyone who follows me on twitter knows the answer to that question. I’ve refrained from launching into a speech about the work I have or the book I’m trying to concentrate on reading, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t find another place to channel my frustration with the WHISTLING THAT NEVER ENDS. All I can say is, “careful, buddy, you may end up in my novel.” In fact, there’s a very, very good chance a similar character to him made an appearance in a scene I wrote yesterday. Hee.
Adaptation isn’t only about the day-to-day, though. It’s about being content to look at the big picture and realize that not every stroke will be painted the way you hope for so strongly. Life is messy. Lines criss-cross, colors blend together, the plot points we designate for our own lives fade, brighten, and take on minds of their own. That can be hard to deal with, very hard. But as much as we wish it was possible to box everything into neat compartments, schedules, and timelines, it’s not. Life doesn’t always happen when we want it to, dreams don’t always come true when we’re yearning for them. But life does often happen when it’s supposed to, when we’re truly ready for that change. Serendipity has its own schedule, and even though it’s impossibly difficult to be patient sometimes, it’s so important. I’m not saying we should just sit back and wait for things to fall into place, not at all. I believe that we make our own luck and create our own destiny. Absolutely, definitely, unequivocally. But sometimes life really does happen when we’re busy making those plans, and we have to adjust accordingly. We have to mold our lives, our loves, and our hearts to the unexpected – and, with a little bit of luck, that’s when the unexpected will change our lives for the better.
Adaptation has also been the name of the game with my current manuscript. When I began writing, I had every intention of it covering an entire year. In fact, that was the plan ever since I first got the idea for the book, back when I was writing Reflections of Me over the summer. The more I work on it, though, the more I realize that may need to change. Part of me is still holding tight to the original plan, but at the same time, I’m exploring so many other possibilities. I don’t know yet how much time this book will span – and I probably won’t for at least a bit – but I’m excited by all the options and looking forward to where one (or more!) will take not only me, but also Sofie and the whole cast of characters. See? Proof positive that change can be a good thing.
None of us can know exactly where the future will lead, but we can all roll with the punches and remember that sometimes the best really is yet to come.