Life as You Know it

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Ja...

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“Imagine one day struck out of your life, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns and flowers, that would never would have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.” — Charles Dickens

In recent weeks, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about the lives we are given. They’re not perfect. They can be painful and frightening and confusing. They’re also beautiful, and can be full of quiet miracles and profound joys. They contain life-changing insights and “ah-hah moments” that we often look at for years, but don’t really SEE until we’re ready.

It’s like Georges Seurat’s painting “A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte”. Up close, you see dots of color. Stand back, and you see a woman with a parasol holding a monkey on a leash; a dog eating a picnicker’s lunch; a girl holding her mother’s hand; and sailboats on the lake. Dots of knowledge, experience, wisdom, time, maturity, distance and perspective come together to create a picture.

Case in point: the above quote from Charles Dickens has been living on a page in my address book, and I’ve never even looked at it until today.

“Imagine one day struck out of your life…”

If the link that was my father was still in place, I might be living a very different life. I might have returned to my hometown to be closer to my family. I might not have the daughters that I do. I probably wouldn’t have the amazing collection of friends that I do now.

If I struck out the painful incidents in my life, I would not have found balance. And I might be writing differently…or I might not be writing at all.  Pain and joy both provide writing inspiration. I write mysteries and love stories and humor and prayers. Life isn’t just about sorrow and it isn’t just about romance. It isn’t just about the physical world but the spiritual as well.

If I hadn’t struck out the links of the bad influences and loose cannons in my life, I wouldn’t have had room for the friends and relations who make my world. I would not have learned the lesson of courage. “Sometimes, you have to let go of good, to make room for great.”

The first links of many memorable days – a smile, a handshake, a hello, a well-timed meeting, a much-needed hug, an unexpected conversation, a note I wasn’t sure I should write but did anyway – have linked to many MORE memorable days and to MORE links.

If one day of your life had never happened, how would your life be different from the life as you know it?  I’m sure there are days you wish had never happened, and other days you wish would happen.  There are days I would love to replay because they were THAT good! There are days I look back on now and I think, “What an idiot you were!  Why didn’t you say something?”

Truth is, I don’t know. But whatever I did or didn’t do put me where I am right now. I am collecting experience and knowledge that will come in handy someday. Things I experienced 20 years ago or 10 years ago are useful now, and I hadn’t expected them to be. And I’m excited about the rest of my life.


10 thoughts on “Life as You Know it

  1. Beautiful post namesake… The remarkable thing is that our lives are perfectly aligned to shed light on those dark places when we need to see them; not a minute later. I love your post and, like you, I have come full circle to embrace my life with expectancy. Thank you! 🙂

    • Thank you too! I hope and believe that I can take my accumulated experience and shine a light for someone else too. One of the worst feelings is thinking “I’m alone in this”…if I can say, “Oh, no you’re not. It’s okay” then it’s all worth it. 🙂

  2. lola12507 says:

    Wow…what a thought – if one day of your life had never happened what would be different? Fascinating to consider.

    I agree deeply with you that the painful experiences, the poor choices, the obstacles, the tough decisions…are what bring us here. Now. I have learned so much form the toughest phases of my life.
    But I, like you, miss my dad. If there were a day to make go away…

    I am right there with you full of excitement about the rest of the journey!
    Namaste 🙂

    • Thank you, Lola! I hope that I’m getting better about feeling the pain or sadness or embarrassment as it occurs, but not letting it rule my life for any longer than necessary. Plenty of things in the past – including losing my dad – that at the time seemed brutally unfair and felt like they would always be a shadow on the wall are now serving a purpose. And I’m glad for that!

      Wishing you happy days…


  3. Elizabeth this was one of the most thoughtful and profound posts I have ever read…it resonated so much with me…I have often thought about this what if…also the whole notion of not realizing significant lessons and moments until you see them or need them is so true…as I really live and see my life unfolding, it is joyful, scary and exciting these days ahead…

    • Thank you, Donna! The Charles Dickens quote just caught me by surprise – I was searching for something else and there it was, dovetailing with some amazing experiences I’ve had over the last couple of weeks. Now more than ever I know there’s a reason for everything. And if I took any one event out of the equation, I might be in a totally different place…and not necessarily a better one. Hugs to you!

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