Google+ Followers

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Book of Questions

I'm sure we've all come across that Book of Questions that has been around for awhile, or those board games where players ask each other profound questions and then have to guess who came up with what answer.

I came up with a game for a gathering I was at recently, where I had each participant write down five things that the others in the group may not have known about them, and we had to guess who matched up to what. It was great fun. But it's easy to ask those questions or write down those events when we are past them or when we are sort of detached from the reality of them. The real challenge comes when we actually have to face a life-changing decision or event..how do we know what to do?

My husband has had to face this in the last few months because of his job loss...does he go for whatever job comes up next because he needs the security of a regular paycheque, or does he sacrifice in order to do what he loves? He has worked for many years in an industry that is now imploding and where there are fewer and fewer opportunities, so the chances of him surviving by doing what he has always done is not as much an option anymore. But he loves it. So what does he do?

We have a mortgage and we have a city in which we would love to stay and eventually retire, but which doesn't present many opportunities in his field. We have two adult children who still live at home...what if we have to move to another city? Will they move with us? Or do we just get a smaller house so we don't have a mortgage over our heads, take whatever work comes along and stay in the city we love?

One life-changing event, the loss of a job, can create all kinds of dilemmas or questions or "opportunities" depending on your attitude! This past week was our 25th wedding anniversary and since we didn't really want to spend the money on a more elaborate vacation, we went back to the city where we grew up and spent a couple of days doing some things we both enjoyed. We had a lovely dinner with our family and although it was low key, it was fun. We also visited a company where my husband may have an opportunity to work, and this, of course, brought about all of those questions again. If he was offered the job, would he want it? Would we move? Would he commute? What would life be like?

It is unsettling to be in this position, but on the other hand it could also bring about positive things that we haven't even thought about yet. This is the truth of it: we have no answers, we can only do the best we can, follow our instincts and never have regrets.

Isn't that true anyway? Whether we are facing a life-altering event or simply trying to get through a tough day, it all comes down to the same thing: do the best you can and this too, shall pass. When life is humming along nicely, it's easy to get complacent. It's also easy to assume that life is going to continue along the path you've set out for it. But as John Lennon once said, life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. Who would have expected that earthquake? How could we have known that this person would suddenly die? We couldn't.

What we have learned recently is the importance of relationships, not just close family ones, but friends too. What has touched us the most is how people have unexpectedly reached out to us in this difficult time. And we have also realized the importance of having each other. In a sense, the greatest gift we received on this, our silver anniversary, is a closeness we haven't had since we were first married. Not that we have had a difficult relationship by any means, but you discover a lot about each other when you're faced with big challenges.

When I was much younger I lamented the fact that there is no Life Book where you can look up all of the difficult questions and find just the right answer. That would be too easy, wouldn't it? On the other hand, sometimes you just have to take the risks, throw the dice and live with whatever you get.

And don't worry if you can't answer all of the questions.

IJ