Once upon a time there was a woman on a journey. She started this journey many, many years ago although she didn’t realize it’s importance at the time. Maybe she realized that it mattered, but she didn’t really define it or name it or make plans for it until fairly recently.
Initially, when she was a child, she just wanted to find normal and be normal and fit in. That was the extent of her life plan. She didn’t think much beyond doing the next “normal” thing.
As a young child she just wanted to stay in one place longer than a year. She didn’t want to move every June and be the new kid in school every September. She wanted to have a birthday party and invite other kids that she actually knew and hadn’t just met.
As a teenager she just wanted a pair of blue jeans. It was the seventies. Every teenager wore blue jeans. Even the really poor kids who were on free lunch and had to ride the bus to the elementary school to eat. She was a junior when she finally got a pair of jeans – plain pockets from J.C. Penney’s.
She went to college like she was supposed to. She majored in English because she promised her Dad she would get a teaching certificate so she would always have a job to fall back on. She had no intention of teaching and snuck in an extra major in Art because that’s what she really loved.
Somewhere along the line she quit making art because it was time to be a grown up. In her “normal” world, normal people didn’t make art.
Normal people got married, bought a house and had kids – in that order. They also had credit cards and two cars. This means that they had debt. They had jobs – both Mom and Dad – so that they could buy all of the stuff that they needed. Each kid had their own room and lots of toys and a big yard to play in.
So, she got married. This was most definitely not a mistake. He turned out to be a really great guy who loved her and stuck with her through times that any sane man would have run away from.
She had four kids. Also, not a mistake. They are beautiful human beings that amaze her with their talent, self-confidence and abilities – despite the fact that she raised them and was pretty clueless most of the time.
The house was really a good idea also. She worked to make it a home – the home that she had longed for all of her life. A place she didn’t have to leave against her will. She had vowed that her family would stay in one place and they pretty much did. They did move, but never left the same general area. She provided her family with the stability that she never had.
Then one day the kids started growing up. She had time. She started making art again. And she started thinking – about herself and her life.
She thought about the choices she had made and the ones she hadn’t made. The path she had travelled looking for “normal”. She thought about the time she had spent on “auto-pilot” because there just wasn’t the time or energy to be introspective and thoughtful.
She started looking around and realized that “normal” didn’t really exist. At least not the way she had thought. Everybody had their own idea of normal.
The first really big eye-opener came when her children started living their own lives and made choices different than the ones she had made. Honestly, some of their choices seemed a bit scary to her. She worried about them. She kept her mouth shut (most of the time). She watched and marveled and learned.
She pondered her choices and decided that there wasn’t a whole lot she regretted. Each choice had contributed to the person that she had become and she liked herself well enough. But, she decided that there were things that she would like to change and she resolved to do so.
…To hell with seeking normal. She decided it wasn’t too late to find her own way and to stop trying to conform to an ideal that had never existed in the first place. She realized that this was a hard thing to do. It’s difficult to deviate from a path that you have travelled for so long.
Then, one day she met a young man – a pretty cool guy. Smart, educated, thoughtful and caring, he had a wide variety of interests and was brave…so very brave. His “normal” was very different from hers. He carried a magic backpack that was much like Mary Poppin’s bag. From it he pulled everything he needed. He needed very little. He travelled light and was confident that he could meet his needs and wants without owning a lot of stuff. She was very glad to have met him.
She was coming to the realization that her journey on the well-worn path meant that she often didn’t really look at the world around her with open and inquisitive eyes. What had she missed? What had she categorized as normal and not normal? What limits had she put on herself and those around her?
She found joy in her realization that she was leaving the path she was on and was making a conscious decision to wander.
Not the End.