Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Value of Challenges

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." ~ George Bernard Shaw When my kid went to bed, last night, I finally took a few minutes to reflect on everything that's happened in my life in the last few years. Although I often feel that my existence is a big, boring set of routines, and Spirit could really try a little harder to make blessings roll in a timely manner, last night I finally had to admit that things HAVE happened, and compared to five years ago, my world has changed a great deal. What I think triggered my reflection was a discussion about the state lottery. While we were sitting in the living room after dinner, my daughter asked me what I would do if I won such a staggering amount. My answer surprised her and slighly disappointed her. If I won a jackpot of 500 millions, I would probably set one million aside for each of my three kids, I would put away five to ten millions for retirement, I would take care of family and a few close friends, and then I would have fun with the rest. I don't think I would want to buy houses, yachts or cars, and clothes and shoes have never been at the top of my list of likes. What I would really like to do would be to play anonimous Santa, sharing that wealth anonimously with the unsuspecting needy. I have heard a few sweet stories in the last few years -- one of a woman who walked into a K-Mart close to Christmas and paid off all the toys on layaway in cash, and another of a woman who bought a foreclosed home just to give it back to the original owner who lost it after falling into hard times. How much fun would it be to do something like that?? My daughter didn't seem all that impressed with my choices. "Wow, Mom, you would give all that money away and you would only leave us, your own children, one million each?" I explained to her that life is more fun when you have goals you strive to achieve, and the journey is really what defines you as a person. Individual strengths don't usually come out until one needs to be strong, and one rarely tries hard to learn new strategies until challenges come along. A million would buy each of the kids a home and give them enough money for education and a good start. When everyone went to bed, I thought of how my philosophies apply to my own life, and how much I have learned by having to reinvent myself in the last few years. Writing has truly been the key to not only finding myself, but also to creating a new self. Of course, I wish someone could have come in, touched me with a magic wand and offered a shortcut to success, but if that had happened, I wouldn't have learned half as much. In the last five years, I have learned how to stand on my own two feet, I have learned how to do things I never thought possible, and I have been forced to get out of the safety of my shell and explore the world. Has it been easy? Not at all, but it has been fun and educational. If I look back at the shy person I was just five years ago, and the more confident individual I have become, I know all those efforts were not in vain. Life isn't just about discovering who we are by finding what we enjoy doing, but rather, it is an opportunity to reinvent the wheel if one is needed to travel smoothly. As I thought of all this, I was suddenly happy about the challenges I endured.