Storytime, kids! Gather ’round. Everybody comfortable?
Once upon a time there was a girl who decided to be a teacher when she grew up. She went to summer academies for future teachers; she taught Sunday school; she went off to college and got a B.A. in English because she’d added “…or a writer” to her life’s plan, but when she needed a job to help pay the rent, the first place she turned was a nearby daycare center, where she could teach. And she got the job there, and she loved it, and eventually got promoted to a management position, and then one day a pile of ugly corporate political nonsense fell on her and she lost her job.
She cried for days, and looked at other centers in town, and realized that her unemployment was running out and nobody in childcare was hiring at her payscale (teachers are grossly underpaid), and she took a job at the call center where she answered incoming calls about defaulted student loans. And she cried some more, because this was not what she had in mind, and this was not what she wanted to know, and this was not what she wanted to do.
One day she met the man who would eventually become her husband, and their relationship blossomed, and she moved to another town to live with him, and the commute to the job she despised got to be too much (the overtly hostile environment there didn’t help), so she and he talked it through and decided she could quit and be a homemaker. Which worked well for a while, but then they needed some extra income, and she ended up taking a job as a virtual assistant for a web marketing company. And she cried a bit more, because that was still not teaching and was definitely not “being a bestselling novelist”, but the money was good and the hours were great and the people were startlingly nice.
She still has that job, and while it’s certainly not the teaching career she’d originally had in mind, she still enjoys it, and the money is helping her support her Mom for a bit…and if you haven’t guessed by now that the girl in question is Little Ol’ Me, then I don’t really know how to help you.
Now, I told you that story so that I could tell you this one: once upon a time, there was another girl, who knew the first girl, and the second girl had student loans that had gotten very complicated and weird and maybe been transferred and she was having the devil’s own time sorting them out. And Girl #2 vented about this to Girl #1, who, thanks to that “someone here has to pay the rent and the cat isn’t volunteering” job at the call center, just happened to still have some friends working at the student loans office, and was able to make a couple of phone calls and get Girl #2 straightened out, and Girl #2 was able to stop freaking out for the first time in days.
And here’s another one for you: Girl #3, also a friend of Girl #1, recently opened her own law office, and was trying to make sense of how to do web marketing. If only she knew someone who had some experience with that whole bag of worms…oh, wait. One Skype call later, Girl #3 is feeling a bit less overwhelmed.
Here’s the point of these stories: Sometimes our stories don’t shake out the way we’d planned. But as I am learning again and again, sometimes that’s because the Cosmos needs us to pick up a new skill so that we can be in position and fully prepared to be a blessing to someone later.
If you haven’t seen Jamie Foxx’s Inside the Actors Studio interview, I seeeeeriously recommend that you watch it. It’s about 45 minutes long, so you’ll want to set aside a little time; but for now, here’s the punchline: during the course of his lifetime, his grandmother set him up with what he calls his “set of tools”–the skills that would enable him to say “why, yes, actually, I do know how to do that” at key moments that furthered his career.
And I’d submit that the Universe, if we pay attention to it, does the same thing for all of us: it gives us tools that it knows we’ll need someday, whether we can see their eventual use right now or not.
Think about it in your own life: how many times have you had a radical change of plans which eventually turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to you? How many people have you known from whom you’ve learned something that you could apply later? How many relationships have seemed like a great idea at the time, but eventually fizzled, leaving you with nothing but a few lessons learned and maybe a new friend or two?
How many times have you had to learn something you didn’t care about knowing, only to discover later that someone else needed you to know it?
So the moral of today’s storytime is this: Give thanks for every unplanned change of direction. Sometimes you’re blown off-course because there are rocks ahead that you just can’t see; but just as often, you’re blown off-course because someone, somewhere, is going to need you to be exactly the person you’re about to become.
Have a magnificent weekend, ‘Tracters. Love and be loved, laugh together, and seize every opportunity to learn something new. You never know who’s going to need it.