Future Roads

There’s a lot to be said for planning for the future. When I was a kid, my folks used to tell me to make decisions that would be wise for the future. My dad wanted me to save as much money as possible. Sometimes I think my childhood was a numbing shot of reality. The reality was that other kids figured out what they were supposed to do with their lives while I was in neutral.

Since I don’t have kids of my own, I’ve had the privilege of watching many of the kids around me grow up. Some have been from friends, others have been neighbors, some have been members of the church. One of the members of the church that I had watched evolve into a strong woman with beautiful children of her own, lost her battle with cancer in the last year. When she and several others that were graduating from high school announced their plans to the church, she wanted to become a hairstylist. Some of the other kids were going to school to become engineers, while others didn’t have a clue what the future held for them. The point was that they were putting into the universe what was important to them at the time.

Isn’t that the way life goes? Sometimes we think we’re on a fortuitous course to our future only to discover that the world we are traveling leads us to an unknown adventure. One of my favorite authors is William Shakespeare. Out of all the books, he’s ever written, five quotes help me remember that future roads consist of what happens now. For example, “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep…”

-Hamlet, Act III, Scene I. To me, this is a statement that no one knows what the future will hold. We plan and prepare for a future we want but as John Lennon quotes, “Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.” If you told any of us that we would have been burying that young woman within ten years of her speaking with the congregation, I would have said you were out of your mind. Nor would I have thought that COVID 19 would attack the world with such a fervor that it would cause a pandemic that had never been experienced in the same manner. It had been over a hundred years since the last pandemic and the world was much less technological during that horrible time. Medicines were nowhere near advanced. 

“This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”
-Hamlet, Act I, Scene III
How many times have I wrestled with this quote? I can’t tell you the dilemmas I’ve faced and the friendships that I’ve walked away from because I just couldn’t take any more of the drama and being held back. As children, one of the things that many kids face is the lack of popularity or standing out in the crowd. What the world doesn’t see is that these kids are building their own resilience towards a stronger adult foundation. Many of the kids that no one paid much attention to, become successful leaders in their own right. Why? Because they have had to learn to work hard for everything that they were given. And many times, they weren’t just given opportunities. They created them.

“Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
-Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II
To me, this says that we are in control over where we take ourselves in life. Much of our attitudes reflect positive or negative energies. The more positive we remain, the more we are able to move forward into positive opportunities. When our confidence is boosted, we tend to make better decisions. Our networks expand because that energy becomes infectious. There’s nothing that we can’t achieve if we keep focused and not allow those who doubt themselves make us feel that we have nothing to offer.

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.”
-As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII
This one means a lot to me. In life, there are many people who enter and exit our lives with varying purposes. Some of them are mentors to us, some become great friends and foes. Some of them are like ships that pass in the night but no matter what realm or category people may fall in, there’s always people out there who determine what we are doing in our lives and how we progress along the way. I’ve seen people who were in one career, do an about face and change the focus and their careers in ways that no one saw coming. As long as doing what you love makes you happy, then the future is wide open. If you aren’t doing something that makes you feel alive, then why are you just settling for the same thing day in and day out?

“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” -King Henry IV, Act III, Scene I. This final quote that I’m sharing is one that has made me stop on multiple occasions. Can you imagine what the leaders in charge of major corporations deal with every day? You may be one of them. If you are, there are issues that everyday employees can’t begin to comprehend unless they have the chance to walk a mile in your shoes. It’s hard to make the difficult decisions that include budget cuts and layoffs. It’s difficult to be the leader to instill changes in a company that can make it either more profitable or closed? There’s a reason that white-collar employees have more stress than many others. In fact, most of the Presidents throughout history aged dramatically in four years. I don’t envy anyone that has to make decisions that affect millions of lives.

I can tell you that life is full of surprises. You don’t have to lock yourself into one facet to focus on. But if you are blessed enough to figure out your future and remain on the path you want, then you are one of the few who can truly say that they don’t work. Because when you actually work on things you love, it really doesn’t feel like you’re working. Hone your skills to what you do well and what makes you happy and if you are blessed enough to have multiple talents, focus on the skills you possess that intrigue you enough to learn more. Don’t let anyone make you feel that you aren’t worthy. You are. At the end of the day, you’re the one that has to look at yourself in the mirror. It’s your decision as to what kind of future you want. Find the folks who can help you improve in the areas you want. There are no guarantees in life. We aren’t promised anything in this world but that doesn’t mean that we have to drift through our lives. By changing your mentality and attitude, you are changing the direction into a more positive journey. By doing this, you are showing others who may be fighting similar battles, that they aren’t alone. And that is worth all the struggling in the world. Because when others see they aren’t alone, then there’s a lot more compassion and willingness to achieve goals together.

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