A wise teacher of mine once said, “The only constant in life is change.” This sounds like an oxymoron, or contradiction in terms, yet it surely has been true for me in my adult life. From the time I left home to be on my own I have had to embrace a sense of flexibility concerning my expectations. It may have helped that to begin with I grew up in New England where the weather can go from a shower to sunshine and back to a shower again in quick succession.
When I was a child I lived a protected life. Even the living room furniture stayed the same, as did the pictures on the walls. The people around me were the same also. Death was distant and spoken of only in whispers. There were no TV images of soldiers fighting and dying or talk of murders and fires. The war then was a distant rumble, its only evidence being the occasional blackouts’ and my dad in his air raid warden helmet roaming the neighborhood to warn of any light showing through the darkened windows of the inhabitants nearby.
When the war ended there was still not much difference in my life except for the packages my parents sent to their relatives overseas. They were stuffed with clothing and edibles that could travel, tied with bales of twine to keep them from being opened. This stable childhood did not really prepare me for the life of change I have lived as an adult. However, I have no quarrel with my experiences and quite to the contrary I believe they have benefited me in very tangible ways.
My first husband and I did quite a bit of traveling wile he fulfilled his army obligations as an ROTC student. We settled in one house only to find ourselves moving a number of times before our lives again settled down. To be sure, dealing with the energies and aptitudes of five children provided plenty of opportunities for unexpected adventures. As I approached my forties I felt confident that I knew exactly what was going to happen in my life. However, again my expectations were turned around and new adventures began.
After Stephen and I moved to Grafton and founded our center for inner peace I often found myself hosting the conglomeration of people who would drop by for a swim or a chat and of course be invited to stay for supper or even the night. We took in anyone who showed up at the door and needed it some inner peace. I always had plenty of food on hand, and I didn’t mind in the least especially as long as people helped out when we needed them to.
Lately without knowing what or how I have felt that something is going to change in my life. However it seems quite impossible to plan ahead for it because whatever does happen is never quite what I expect. For instance, how could I foresee that Stephen’s acquisition of one pot of a few succulents two years ago would multiply into a garden of pots and many more varieties? I do welcome whatever is next. My only expectation is that as good as it has been in the past so it will be as in the future or perhaps even better.
Growing up I preferred tales of adventure to almost any other kind of book with the exception of fairy stories. Biographies bored me as did many of the titles on the summer reading list. Give me a book by Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne or Alexander Dumas and I was content to curl up in a comfortable spot and plunge myself into the wondrous world the author created. My own adventures were often something I got scolded or even punished for. Being a girl I was not encouraged to be adventuresome.
Recently, without meaning to, I did create myself an adventure. If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have put the new scissors I’d found in the storage unit into the suitcase I was taking with me on my return flight. If I had put them into the checked luggage, I wouldn’t have been stopped and had my carryon opened and examined. When the security guard measured the scissors and put them back in the old red nylon suitcase that had belonged to my mother, I breathed a sigh of relief and prepared to gather my belongings. Then he took a bit of white material and ran it around the inside near the zipper.
Suddenly I was asked to take off my shoes and told I would be patted down. A female guard went over my body, informing me each time what she would be doing. Knowing I had nothing to fear, I simply allowed the experience to unfold. My daughter was worried, however we had arrived early so were in no danger of missing our flight. At one level I was laughing inside at the thought that an elderly great grandmother could be considered dangerous. However, I remained calm, knowing that giggling might not be regarded as appropriate.
Finding nothing, they asked me if I took any medication. I said no, but the suitcase had belonged to my mother. Then they mentioned nitroglycerine. I remembered that my mother had told me she took something for her heart. That cleared it all up. I got to put on my shoes and collect my belongings. Feeling relieved, I left the security area behind. Apparently even after many years in storage an old suitcase could carry traces of heart medicine and in these days of terrorist precautions come across as a threat.
My daughter and I had just spent almost two whole days processing the contents of a storage unit that had been unopened for twelve years. It contained the contents of my late mother’s art studio. We separated out a considerable amount of material that will form the basis for a retrospective exhibit to be curated by my youngest daughter, herself an artist. My mother was a professional with much art and many exhibits to her credit. If she had not shunned the limelight she might be a household word. I wondered if from her perch in heaven she looked down at my dilemma and giggled. I think it would have amused her that her adventuresome daughter had though unwittingly, created herself an adventure.