Something happened this past weekend that made me think about intent, process, and outcome. We can not always control outcomes, but we can control our own intent, our own decision making, our own process. Here’s what got me started down that thought path.
This is my son Robert’s girlfriend Tracy, getting eye to eye with a stray cat. While they were vacationing for his 27th birthday in Virginia this past weekend, they encountered a cat by the side of the road. Being cat people, they stopped the car to make sure the cat was ok. He wasn’t. It was clear to them that he was injured and sick. Because it was a Sunday, they had to search high and low for an animal hospital that was open, and finally found one in Charlottesville. Transporting the cat to this open animal hospital involved several hours of driving for them (on my son’s birthday), and their feline passenger pooping in Rob’s car.
I wish I could say this story has a happy ending, but it doesn’t. The cat was found to have FIV, which made adoption by Rob and Tracy impossible because they have other cats at home. More importantly, the cat had a serious brain/neurological injury from what was likely being hit by a car, along with other injuries. When Rob last spoke to the animal hospital, it was the vet’s opinion that the most humane thing to do would be to put the cat to sleep.
I felt bad for Rob and Tracy. They love animals (in fact, so much that they build cat beds for their Etsy shop) and had done everything within their power to save this one, to no avail. I also felt bad for the cat, because I love cats so much and, of course, we have our own crazy orange tabby, Tesla, here at the Parris House who is part of our family. I told them that they had at least provided this animal with affection and kindness when he was so sick and injured, and that they had sacrificed their own vacation time in an effort to save his life.
This is just how life is sometimes, and we need to remember it. If we are always obsessed with a safe and assured outcome, we will never take chances. Sometimes – often – we’re going to win for our efforts. But sometimes we’re not, and sometimes there’s no accounting for the difference either. It’s just how it is.
There is a fair amount – more than we’re willing to admit – of uncertainty in life, actually. It’s why I hug my sons tightly when we have to say goodbye (which is often; they are all grown men now). It’s why I drive back to the house if I’m not 100% sure I unplugged the iron. It’s why I take nothing – absolutely nothing – for granted. It’s also why I do my best and leave the outcome to take care of itself, because it’s going to and maybe not in the way I thought.
Of course, the flip side to all of this uncertainty resulting in disaster is uncertainty resulting in success beyond our wildest dreams. Life is filled with those unexpected results as well. For example, I knew that when we approached Beekman 1802 with our work in 2014, there was an off chance they’d say “yes” to it, but I wasn’t really expecting it. That trip went, and that relationship continues to go, so well that I could never have imagined it beforehand. From that one chance we (my then biz partner, Jen and I) took three years ago has come many happy pillow recipients, new friends for me, and opportunities I could not have dreamed of.
The same could be said from my experiences teaching at Squam, or from an online friendship that resulted in the recommendation of a publisher for my as yet still a dream book (the proposal is in though…I’m taking a chance…).
We don’t know what’s going to happen in our lives, good, bad, or anything in between. But we can control the intent, the process, and our own effort. Therefore, with this one life – this one, brief, amazing, limited time only life – we have to just do our best. Doing our best creates better odds for the outcomes we want, and better handling of disappointment when things don’t go our way. When we do our best we have fewer regrets, knowing we gave it all we had.
Next Monday I’ll have a more fiber art related post (although this topic also applies to the way we approach our art), as I am traveling to Rochester, NY this weekend to teach a pretty large group of RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) students rug hooking. When I interact with high school and college students I see young adults engaged in doing their best to make their dreams come true, and that’s inspiring. I’ll have the whole story for you a week from today!
Have a great week, and give it your best. – Beth