Last night, at the end of one year and the beginning of another, I was reminded of the expression: Wherever we go, there we are.
I felt a tap on the shoulder while standing in the crowded Bull & Bear Saloon of Red Lodge, Montana. Dancers were kicking up their heels to the music of Wild Bill and the Coyotes. There were only a few tables to hold drinks and conversation. The rest of us were engaged in the bump and shuffle of tight quarters.
As I turned around expecting a polite disclaimer of accidental contact, my eyes met those of someone intent on conversation. Always up for a little social banter with a complete stranger, I listened as she said, “My kids sent me over to ask you to dance.”
Assuring her that I love to dance, I asked for a first name. About the time Becky and I headed for the dance floor, the band plucked the final chords on the last song before a break. Just my luck! Oh, well, accepting that things do happen for a reason, this must be perfect timing for a little conversation before we waltzed into the New Year.
For the next ten minutes, I heard the story of two husbands, four kids (2 by 2; ages 22, 18, 11, and 7) and a pending adventure in Alaska. Yep; as Becky exclaimed, “I need to go find myself, because I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!”
Upon hearing that oft stated phrase, I always wonder, “How can you find something for which you don’t know to look?!”
As dysfunctional as the story-line was, I did have to admire her honesty. Earlier in the evening, I had noticed this woman in a group of Twenty-somethings. She was ordering shots of Tequila and leading the way into oblivion.
Sacrificed on the altar of Selfishness were at least two “committed” relationships, four children and all hopes of a family life. Now, I understand, there is surely more facets to the Rest of this Story. What I do know for a fact: We get what we allow.
If we don’t know what we want, that’s exactly what we get: The result of a decision by someone else. That’s what parents do for, and to, children. And, they do it for all of the right reasons. Young children are, too, immature to decide for themselves.
About the age of 12, though, is the Age of Reason; we all start to think for ourselves. Then, in the teenage years we begin turning those thoughts into words and actions (some pleasant; some less than). Sooner, or later, we learn that our actions have consequences.
Society is fairly forgiving in our young adult years. Parents and others will listen to the whining and rationalization about how the world must be picking on the poor, saintly, martyr. Eventually, though, it becomes obvious that:
Wherever we go, there we are!
It is by our individual choices that we find ourselves, exactly, where we are at this moment. No one forced us into our decisions; no one is that powerful. In fact, even God recognizes the importance of free will. We are given opportunities; it is up to us what we do with them.
Becky’s children didn’t make her push through a crowd for the purpose of asking me to dance. Becky made that choice. Her children didn’t ask to be born into a broken home. Becky made that choice. I am absolutely positive those same children don’t want their mother to seek the thrill of a new adventure in Alaska, as she leaves them behind in Montana. Becky is making that choice.
Yes, her tone was that of a teenager as she complained about the past, expressed uncertainty of the present, and looked forward to finding herself in the future.
My amusement of the immaturity surely expressed itself in facial expression, body language, tone of voice and the actual words, playfully, teasing Becky about her choices. Soon, the, real, young adults were looking for new entertainment adventure. Their leader accepted their offer as an appropriate exit strategy from our conversation and off they went, in search of the unknown, by the unknowing.