We all have our visions for the future.
We assume our lives are going to look a certain way. Some of us very specifically envision it, intend it, and put a whole lot of effort in to manifesting it. It’s great when, co-creating with life, it all comes to fruition.
But what happens when it doesn’t? What happens when life throws us a curve ball?
Recently I’ve been reading a book called Option B by Sheryl Sandberg. In it, she shares the story of how her and her husband were vacationing with friends in Mexico. After a day at the beach, she went to shower in preparation for dinner, while her husband decided to squeeze in a quick workout at the gym. She never saw him alive again. She found him on the floor of the gym a short time later. He had died from a heart attack, leaving Sharon and their two young children reeling.
The book does a wonderful job of looking at what it means when your vision for the future is shattered—be it through death, illness, or some other loss that leaves you scrambling to make sense of it all.
She talks about how we all have dreams, we all have an option A, but for some of us, for whatever reason, option A is, well, not an option. And the only way to truly live again is to give ourselves permission to fully grieve—and then to start imagining an option B.
Option B may not be our first choice, but it can have heart, it can be beautiful, it can be powerful, and it can give us a reason to live again. Not just survive—but truly live.
Find your option B, she says, and then “kick the shit out of option B.” Meaning, make option B a great one. Make it your new purpose, your new vision, your new dream.
Because, as Victor Frankl says in Man’s Search For Meaning, “As long as we have a purpose, we have a reason to live. If we have a strong enough why, we can handle almost any how.”
Her book, and her story, spoke to me and my own struggles with giving up option A.
For well over 10 years, I struggled to make my option A a reality. I always saw a child in my life—teaching him or her everything I knew, sharing my world, and taking him or her everywhere with me. This was always a part of the image I held in my mind whenever I thought of my future.
So, when life threw me a curve ball and said, “Sorry, that’s not how this is going to play out,” it took a long time for me to accept it.
It wasn’t until I realized I needed to come up with a new vision, a new dream, a new reason to be excited about my future, that the veil of grief started to lift.
For me, option B looks like traveling frequently and enjoying my freedom in a way I probably wouldn’t be able to if I had a child in tow.
So I dove into international yoga travel with enthusiasm. All these retreats, all this travel. This is me kicking the sh*t out of option B.
Rather than showing the world to my child, I get to share it with the small groups of men and women who choose to join me on these trips. I’ve got quite the community of world travelers developing here.
Now that I’ve accepted that option A is no longer available, this is not a bad option B.
But, I couldn’t even begin to think about option B until I had fully excepted and grieved the loss of option A.
Recently I met up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in several years. She got married a couple of years ago and, knowing her vivacious, thirsty-for-life, positive attitude, I assumed life had been smiling on her.
Needless to say, I was floored when she shared that, at 42 years of age, just two years ago, she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She admitted that she was still working on accepting that diagnosis. Life had definitely thrown her a curve ball, and option A needed to be reconsidered.
I told her about the book, and shared with her my own personal struggles, and we talked about the concept of option B.
Driving home from our meeting, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people out there have been disappointed, disillusioned, heartbroken—their vision for their life so fundamentally altered that it had to be completely reimagined.
Chances are, more of us fall into this category, more so than those who are blessed enough to have it all—everything they ever imagined and wanted.
This puts into perspective the whole law of attraction and positive thinking movement out there. Because, sometimes no matter how positive you are, no matter how clear your vision—life has other plans.
Which is why it takes true humility to remember that life is a co-creation. We only have so much control.
Yes, it is wise to establish a clear vision for our future so that we know how and where and why to channel our energy. But, we must stay humble enough to practice deep listening to life, and realize that life is going to have its say.
I’m always been brought back to the same place—the realization that it takes true humility to navigate our way through this human experience with any kind of grace.
It takes compassion, for ourselves and others, as we recognize that we are all doing the best we can.
Author: Erica Boucher
Image: David Marcu/Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Khara Jade Warren