The new year can provide an opportunity to look at your life with fresh eyes. Maybe now is the time to reset your compass? Last week my husband and I toured some local university campuses with our oldest granddaughter as she thinks about her future. At one of the campuses we came upon this quotation by Franz Kafka, “The world will freely offer itself to you, to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” I am not so sure about the ecstasy part, but the idea that opportunity freely offers itself to us got me thinking about how our lives are the result of the choices we make.
Back in the 1970’s I had a student in class whose speech and motor ability were severely affected by cerebral palsy. She joined my public speaking class and seemed to really enjoy it, and then after the first video taped assignment she dropped the class. I was very disappointed. I felt we had a connection and I had wanted to work with her. The next summer she completed speech with another teacher and moved on with her life becoming a television actress and author. Just a few years ago she came back to our college to be honored as an outstanding alumnus and I was her host. She remembered me with a big hug and I was able to ask her, “So why did you drop my speech class?” With no hesitation at all she replied, “That video tape you made was the first time I had ever seen what cerebral palsy looked like.” She was very open about how traumatic that had been for her. Finally four decades later I learned what had transpired with her in my class. What impresses me is that instead of giving up and hiding from cerebral palsy, she took it as a challenge. She is best known as Cousin Geri on the 80’s sitcom “Facts of Life” and was one of the stars of the 2004 TV series “Deadwood,” but the real story is that not only did she face her condition, she was the first person in television history with a disability to have a recurring role on prime time! Geri Jewell took what she had and became a trail blazer, a hero.
I really enjoy art metaphors. I think our individual lives can be the ultimate testament of our creativity, of our “artist” ability. I think our choices and actions are like brush stokes against the canvas of our being. I know scores of people who have quietly “painted” satisfying and fulfilling lives. Are you one of them? Or do you sometimes feel a nagging restlessness? Do you sometimes think; so is this all there is? This could be the year that you dive in and embrace something else that would be challenging for you. Now may be your time to “paint” something vibrant in your life, perhaps an idea that has lain dormant these past years? It could be your time to unmask the world and let it roll freely at your feet!