The Winds of Change

The Winds of Change

There’s a saying that life is what happens while you’re making other plans. This aligns perfectly with my experience. Every time my husband and I plan how we want our lives to go, the universe tramples it gleefully into dust.

Back in high school, it all seemed so easy. I felt sure I’d graduate, write the novel that would make me famous, start a family and everything would be great. Reality crashes in pretty quickly. Nothing is as easy as we imagine it will be. Moving to another country proved terrifying, even if it did, eventually, prove fulfilling. Starting a family is far from easy as well. Turns out there’s never a good time. And on top of that, there’s a lot about pregnancy most of the world forgets to mention when preparing you for how babies enter the world.

Needless to say, life hasn’t gone according to plan. I never saw myself living in Toronto for eight years. I never saw myself ending up in the IT field. I certainly never saw myself living in Quebec for two years. And if you’d asked me where I’d end up next I never in a million years would have said England.

Yet here I am.

Despite all the plans that have gone up in smoke, I think my husband and I both agree we’ve been fantastically fortunate. There’s always an opportunity for us somewhere and usually it all falls into place, even if it’s not how we initially hoped things would go. We arranged our move to Quebec in about two weeks. Pretty good considering we had only a month and a half to organize everything after he got the job. And while there might have been limited opportunities for me in a place where I didn’t speak the primary language, I got to engross myself fully in my writing. There may have been hard days with all that happened with the house, but at the end of those days I always felt satisfied I’d done good work. Those were some of my happiest, most satisfying days and I learned more about writing in two years than I probably learned in the five years prior.

When yet another set of life plans fizzled, we both had our breakdowns. I didn’t want to leave our first house. Especially when we’d just gotten it arranged the way we wanted it in the wake of the basement disaster. My husband didn’t want to leave his students or the school he so dearly loved. Both of us thought the time was near to finally become parents. But you have to play with the cards life deals you, so we set out to find the next grand opportunity.

It would have been so easy to give in to despair. I’d be lying if I said we never faltered. But we had each other and when one of us tripped, the other was there to get us back on our feet. Considering how difficult it is to get into a permanent teaching position in Canada, we often felt we were faced with an insurmountable wall. We had fall-back plan upon fall-back plan, even bracing ourselves to live apart for a year depending on which jobs presented themselves. But we were determined. Whatever it took to get my husband in a classroom, that’s what we decided to do.

Ironically, I was the first to suggest England. When the recruiting agency approached my husband, I told him to think how great it would be. “It’ll be exciting,” I said. Of course at the time I never expected it to actually happen.

I’ve always believed things happen for a reason. I don’t believe in anything so great as fate or destiny, but I do believe we’re supposed to learn certain lessons from the events in our lives. When the time came to leave Quebec, someone asked me what purpose I found in the sudden change. We grew so much as people during our short time as home owners. We learned how to adapt quickly when plans changed and unexpected disasters fell into our laps. We learned how to go on finding the joy in life while enduring some of our darkest moments. We’ve always said if we could get through the sewage flood of our basement and the subsequent basement reconstruction, we could get through anything. That’s no small lesson to have learned. Now we’re off to discover something new. We just happen to get to do it in England.

The past three months have been a whirlwind. At the time of this writing, it looks to be another month before they’ll settle down. It’s often hard to be confident we’ll still be standing when the dust finally clears. Life gets so complicated so fast, it can be difficult to keep track of it all. But then I realize I’m sitting in a beautiful inn, built from the timbers of old sailing ships, in the middle of a beautiful town half an hour south of London in the UK and I have to believe this moment is beautiful. I have to believe the universe brought me here because it’s all going to be okay (even if that makes me a terrible sap).

As the winds of change endeavor to keep us moving, we’ve learned to keep our plans flexible even if none of our ultimate goals have changed. If nothing else, the past five years have taught me that if there is a secret to life, it is this: when opportunity knocks, always answer the door.

Change and movement have their times; safety and danger are in oneself. Calamity and fortune, gain and loss, all start from oneself. Therefore those who master change are those who address themselves to the time. For those who address themselves to the time, even danger is safe; for those who master change, even disturbance is orderly.
-The Book of Balance and Harmony

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