Sunday, December 11, 2016

Deep Thoughts

Recently, I saw a movie and read a book which posed questions/thoughts that made me think. They lodged themselves in my subconsciousness and just keep working their way through my synapses.

"If you knew how everything in your life was going to end, would you change anything?" 
I may have paraphrased it, but that's the gist of a quote from the movie I saw last Sunday.

It's like that whole hindsight being 20/20 thing, only with knowledge ahead of time of what you're walking into. It's a hard one, because I believe that everything you go through makes you who you are. Bryce and I talked a lot about this -- we are the couple we are in part because we've had to go through so much together. You can go back even farther to the fact that had I not had a disastrous first marriage, I wouldn't have met Bryce at just the right time. I wouldn't have learned the lessons of that experience that make me a better person today. It might not have knocked my marble in just the right trajectory to become Bryce's wife and partner in a life that's beautiful, if messy (and really, whose life isn't to some extent?).

But at the same time, would it have changed things to know ahead of time that we would ultimately be horrifically unsuccessful with IVF? Would we have entered into the adoption process sooner, fresher, less beat-up-feeling?

It's sort of a question that pries itself into the what-if part of my brain. What-ifs are fairly useless, because you can't change anything and wondering what different trajectories might have done is wasted time, because they didn't go that way. However, this question is asked in the sense that it IS possible to see ahead, to have memories of events to come, and then to make decisions knowing what the trajectory is going to be. It could make each moment precious for knowing, or it could make you in a way responsible for outcomes that were inevitable once a certain choice was made.

I don't really believe in things being inevitable, so it's just brain food, thinking on this question for me, but it sure is interesting to think on the effects of our choices and experiences. Infertility was not a choice for me, but how I tackled it was. We made a zillion choices (and still make them) in our quest to build a family. Would I change anything? Or would changing something bring me to a different outcome than might have been otherwise possible? Like Bryce coming into my life at just the right moment through Match, is our specific Mystery Baby out there at the end of this gauntlet? What if there is no Mystery Baby at the end of all this? Would that realization change the way we moved through all this? I just don't know.

Which brings me to the next thinker.

"The world isn't your's not designed to go your way. All you can do is make the decision to muscle through and fight the trend."
This is from Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple. I LOVED Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which was her last novel. It was funny, it was quirky, it was heartfelt. It's my go-to book recommendation. Today Will Be Different has some similarities, but seems a bit...darker. It's twisty, and I didn't altogether like the main character/narrator, but that's okay because I enjoy that sort of thing. But this quote stuck with me...something about it wedged its way into my noggin.

At first, it kind of seems super pessimistic. Well, to me it totally made sense. Although there are ways in which the world is my friend (um, BRYCE, our life together minus the absence, my job) there are ways in which it decidedly is not (anything having to do with procreation, the slow crawl of the adoption process). But then again, it's that second part that appeals to me.

The world isn't designed to be a fairy godmother, giving you everything you want, making sure that everything is smooth...but you can fight your way through it and make the best of the things that did fall into your trajectory, a trajectory that you didn't necessarily sit and let happen to you but that you muscled through and influenced, yourself. You have the power to wrestle the ways of the world and get some things to go your way. Not everything, but that's not what this quote says. This quote says that you muscle through and fight the trend, and the trend is against you. You have to make a conscious decision as to how you're going to fight, in what way, and what you can influence versus what is outside your control. I love this quote because there is only fighting, not control.

It puts responsibility on you to captain your ship, to realize that LIFE IS NOT FAIR, but that you have to work to make the best of your situation, of your life, of existence. At least that's how I see it.

So tell me, what are your thoughts on these things? Is everything a conscious decision to wade through what's given? What's a choice, and what's not? How much can you change in your life? Do you have a trajectory, is it changeable, and would you want to know where it all goes in the end? Would that influence your decisions or would you still go with the flow for the whole experience of it all?

Those are my deep thoughts for this Sunday. I'd love for you to join in...


  1. This post compliments Mel's post today about having a known path to happiness.

    It also reminds me of a discussion I just partook in about fixed vs growth mindsets. This idea being we are who we are and nothing can be done about it (fixed) vs we have control over our choices and decisions and can choice to grow and learn (growth). We all exhibit both of these, but people who lean more towards growth recognize their fixed tendencies and make adjustments to grow.

    This idea of destiny and fixed path reminds me a lot of the fixed mindset. And though it may initially seem ideal to know the path forward and the outcome of it all, it also means to me that life is a lot less colorful because of it. Like you, I believe that life is about the journey and that our choices along the way are the valuable lessons that lead to new paths (some of them very untraveled). Knowing that after we are born, the only guarantee is that one day we'll die and the rest is up to us is actually a gift (please remind me of this, btw, as I tend to forget).

    1. Isn't that funny? I saw Mel's after I wrote this, and it is so interrelated! Oh, how interesting the fixed vs growth mindsets. I feel like I definitely have areas that are fixed, while the rest of me is growth. Yes to the journey and the choices that get you where you are, and yes to trying to remember more often that it's a gift to have so much agency in our lives. :) It's easy to say and hard to practice with fidelity, right? Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Such interesting quotes and discussion.

    My answers: if I knew how something would end, yes I would change my actions or reactions. Because I can't see myself having information and not using it. But would the change be "better?" Who knows?! Does the me of today even agree with the me of yesterday what is a better life? What about the me of tomorrow?

    Now, I have felt at very rare, magical moments in my life that I could sense the future. Nothing solid, nothing where I could say "this is how it shall be." But as if I'd stepped into a time eddy and present, future and past were very close. In each case, what I felt was a surge of conviction to keep going on my path.

    And the second quote, about fighting through what you are given. This one is very appealing. The one thing I would add though is that I don't think life is always meant to be a fight. At times yes: and I agree that it's better to assume times will be hard and that you are meant to struggle, vs expecting an easy ride. Still. It is also possible to be fighting for the wrong things. If you take all your meaning from struggle, would you be able to give up a struggle that is not worthwhile? And finally I believe in grace or something like it: that in the darkest hour help will come and it gets easier.

  3. I like what Cristy brings in about fixed vs growth because it has some similarities with what we sometimes deal with in adoption: nature vs nurture. What makes people the way they are? Why do we meet life the way we do?

    You'll have me thinking about this post for awhile. Hmmmm....

  4. I kind of think life is fair, because it's unfair for everyone

  5. I also heard a similar quote recently enough, something along the lines of "the world doesn't owe you anything". And it actually makes me feel better thinking that yes why should life be fair, because then when bad things happen I don't feel like I'm particularly unlucky but that this is what life is. And yes you can't expect everything to go your way, what's important is how you react to challenges.