A Life Unexpected
Monday April 19, 2010

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“However well you plan out your life, whatever courses you take, whatever degrees you get, your life is really going to get most interesting when it goes off the rails.  

When it blows up and something happens that you didn’t expect . . . a loss, some misadventure . . . and if you’re open to what happens, and you don’t try to do something to change it and [instead] accept it for what it is, you’re going to learn something, and your life will improve.”

-Michael J. Fox

So how exactly does a life go off the rails?  For Michael J. Fox it was learning he had Parkinson’s Disease at the young age of thirty.  During a discussion with Rachael Ray about the upcoming release of his most recent book A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned, Michael shared his optimistic spirit and stated the quote I decided to share with you  today.

For each one of us, a derailment will come in its own unique form.  Each one of us will internalize our understanding of the quote above in our own way in relationship to our own life experience.

But for the sake of conversation, let’s throw some examples out there: not being accepted to the college of your choice, a divorce, weather halting your plans, not being married at the age you thought you’d be married, having to adopt rather than conceive a child, or losing a job.  The list could easily go on, so please continue to throw out your own examples, as yours will be more relevant than any I could suggest. While each one of these scenarios are initially not something we would want to hear if we were planning our lives to the perfect “T”, what happens immediately after we hear the unwanted news is where the blessing is to be found.

We will never know why certain things have happened until much further down the road, if ever, so to continually waste time questioning, or even worse, complaining, is a loss of time we will never get back.  A derailment by definition is to go off an intended course, so therefore, you are on a different path.  Possibly a path where there are no examples to follow, but maybe, if you look, search, scour to find them, they are there.  It will just be a bit more difficult, forcing you out of your comfort zone, because you aren’t exactly sure, initially, what you are looking for.

Rest assured, you will gain your sea legs if you keep at it.  And as the quote states above, your life will improve because of this derailment, despite the original belief in the contrary.  Most likely, it will become fuller, you will become more appreciative, and your life will become grander than you had ever planned, but the key is in your hands when a derailment takes place.  Do you toss it out the window and try desperately to get back on track, or do you trust that you are meant to be taken in a different direction?  Something to ponder.

4 thoughts on “A Life Unexpected

  1. Very inspiring. My own derailment happened three years ago while we were expecting our third child, I was 19wks along and at a routine ultrasound there was no heartbeat found. Our little baby boy was stillborn the next day and our hearts were broken. This is a loss I still grieve but it has also changed me in many ways. I have become more deliberate about how we live, taking opportunities that I would have let slip by before. I see that God does not give us control over every area in our lives and we have to accept that but there are many areas that we can change, improve and grow as well and now I feel like I have the strength to do that.

  2. Jessica – we truly do have more choice in how we live our lives than we realize, it just may not be in fashion we initially envisioned.

    Stacie – Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine the heartbreak you and your family are enduring through this loss. However, your attitude is inspiring, helpful and a reminder to each of us. Thanks you again. You’re in my thoughts.

  3. You always hit the nail right on the head. Not being married at the age I thought has thrown me for a loop, being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and now finding out I have a viral disease they don’t know HOW to diagnose has thrown me again and the best way is to embrace it. Thanks for another great post! Clare

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