Musing on…How Life Turns Out

One of my friends posted a survey he filled out over on MySpace. A couple of questions started me thinking. Basically, they asked if our life now was what we expected to have? As much as I look back on my history, in order to avoid past mistakes, or to revel in past glories, I don’t think I’ve often taken this tack. How has my life turned out based on the expectations I had when I was just starting out…say in high school?

One of my friends posted a survey he filled out over on MySpace. A couple of questions started me thinking. Basically, they asked if our life now was what we expected to have? As much as I look back on my history, in order to avoid past mistakes, or to revel in past glories, I don’t think I’ve often taken this tack. How has my life turned out based on the expectations I had when I was just starting out…say in high school?

Employment. Back in high school, I really wasn’t sure what it was I wanted to do. I did feel at the time that my place was in the sciences, and since I was enjoying physics so much, I thought I might like to make that my career path. While physics quickly fell to the wayside, I soon entered into computer science, something that had been part of my life since the ’60s, and it’s been a part of my life, both private and at work, ever since. I can’t imagine life without computers. How ironic then that my current path is one of fine art using traditional ( i.e. non-computer) media as its form of expression.

I think the biggest difference is that I didn’t expect to be as itinerant as I’ve turned out to be. I assumed that I’d be on some sort of predictable career path, working 8-to-5 in some corporation somewhere. Instead, I’ve had a variety of usually part-time jobs interspersed with stints of self-employment which allowed me the opportunity to pursue my interests in the written and visual arts. As I wasn’t having to support a family, I took advantage of the freedom…a freedom many don’t get to enjoy because of more immediate responsibilities (someone has to do it, n’est ce pas?).

Family. In high school I was very much looking forward to getting married, though I think for the wrong reason. I wanted to get married so I wouldn’t have to deal with the stress of dating. I figured I would find someone nice, who I would become good friends with, and we’d get married. No kids of course. I really wasn’t into the kid thing for a variety of reasons. Surprise, surprise…I never got married. I pretty much discovered, too, that the stress of dating was removed if you simply eliminated dating from the life equation (it also freed up a lot of time, and a goodly amount of money :-) .

Now, I find myself in a hard-to-easily-describe relationship with Mary* and her family. There really aren’t any unambiguously accurate phrases running about to fill in all the colors of what this interpersonal amalgam is. We both consider each to be, essentially, adopted into each other’s families. Love and hugs are easily given. While I’m cautious not to overstep my bounds with my interactions with Jamie, Tess, and Scarlet, the reality is that the girls are the closest to children I will ever have in my life, and I try to live up to the standard set by my father. The best way I can respect what he gave me is to give it back to these young ladies without reservation or expectation. I often say that the greatest gift I ever received was the whole group of Scotts letting me love them. It’s not the "marriage" I expected when in high school, but it’s also not just another in a string of friendships I’ve had since then, either. It was unexpected, and has been very emotionally rewarding.

Something that I didn’t anticipate was my parents getting old, and especially my father’s brain essentially lobotomizing itself. I don’t think you can really prepare yourself to becoming a parent for your parents. I expected that my strong and capable father would stay that way…just grayer…until he dropped from a heart attack or something. Now, he basically has the mind of a two-year-old, and I’m the one who has to take everything he taught me and put it to use. That is how I prove to my dad that he did a good job…that he raised me to be strong, capable, and responsible. We don’t use the "L" word between us, but have instead spent our lives demonstrating to the other how much we care.

The World. It’s almost funny now, but back in high school we were worried that we were so effecting the environment that when we reached the mid-twenty-first century, we’d be threatened by increased glaciation. We thought we might be entering a new ice age. Yup…the world would be getting cooler, not warmer.

I never expected that the wall would fall and the Eastern Bloc would crumble. I thought the soon-to-be-launched space shuttles would be flying a mission every month. I thought the Equal Rights Amendment would pass. I thought we’d be on the metric system by now (seriously, my fellow Americans, swallow the year of pain and switch over already). I never expected that I’d be in a house with a half-dozen networked computers. I never expected Madonna. Or Xuxa. Or Carrot Top.

Me. How am I different than I thought? I think my sense of humor is more refined. I certainly like little kids more than I did (having the two littlest Scotts in my life since they were babies certainly helped with that). I find my faith is less confused, and I’m comforted by it. The aches and pains I knew I’d develop as a result of playing tennis hard for so long are a little more achy and painy than I’d expected, but I usually manage to hobble on through what I need to. The most unexpected thing, though, is that I’m freer with sharing my love than I was then. That has given me comfort during some difficult days.

So…is there a lesson here for the young adults out there who are about to embark on the journey we like to call life? I’d say that if you stick to this simple creed: "Be good to others, try to not be afraid"; and then follow your constructive passions, you have a better than average shot at having a life you can look back on and say that it was probably better than you deserved and more surprising than you expected. I like to think that I can say that of mine.

* Names have been changed

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: