Life is a series of adjustments and choices. Some minor; some major. The way you react to what happens along the way becomes either a major or a minor adjustment – or a minor or major choice. Liken it to when your back or neck is hurting so you go to a chiropractor and have him align your skeletal structure. If it works, it is a minor adjustment. You are able to move on with less pain and more strength. If the pain is still there, you must choose to maybe see an orthopedic doctor for further evaluation. How long you suffer is up to you. You have to make that choice.
Let us begin when we are born. Birth itself is a plethora of adjustments as you come into the world and adapt to a multitude of so many changes as you grow moment to moment. At this stage in life, there are no choices to make. They are made for you.
The next would be reconciling from home to school. Sometimes very scary situations arise as you go from the safe cocoon of your home to the outside world. You meet many new people – teachers, other children. Some kind; some not. You learn, you work, play sports, learn an instrument, sing, do science experiments, be in a play. It is a barrage where bending and shaping is paramount to becoming the person you are meant to be. So many adjustments and so many choices. What do you like to do? What kind of friends do you want? Do you choose to stand up if you are bullied or stand down and let it happen? Are you going to do your assignments to the best of your ability or choose to just get by?
You enter puberty. Bodily changes, wants, needs and everything in between that projects you into adulthood. You choose right or wrong. Choose to follow your urges or suppress them.
You graduate high school/college. Graduating high school is a feat in itself and quite an accomplishment from grueling years of social and educational reconciliations. It is a relief, in a way, to have finished what is required educationally. You choose to go on to higher education or start a job. Choosing college will be extending your educational process. Working towards a career of your choosing. Or you learn a much-needed trade or enter the military or civil service training. You will be exposed to many personal, social, and educational experiences. It will be hard, even grueling as you navigate yourself through the years when you truly grow into an adult. Life-changing choices and so many adjustments.
You begin a career or a job. You begin to learn how to stand on your own two feet. Make a living that can support your independence from your parents. Always an adjustment with workload, new people and getting along, making enough money to pay your bills.
You have relationships. You grow and experiment with different people and personalities to find the type of person who matches what you need. You find people who are right or wrong for you and learn how to tell the difference. You choose a person that hopefully lifts you up and does not beat you down. You have heartbreaks – many along the road of life. You date. You break up. You commit. You uncommit. He commits. She does not. She commits. He does not. Heartache aplenty. You love. You hate. You stay. You move on.
You marry. Maybe. So many adjustments and compromises and ups and downs and ins and outs. You hope for the absolute best as you take that leap and maybe you have found your person who will be a partner for all of life’s compromises. Making a choice and knowing the right person from the wrong person is something not all of us figure out. This, to me, is one of life’s greatest challenges, hardest adjustments, and so many ridiculous choices. You want to trust. You want to love. You want your person. But you must ask over and over before you decide: Is it he/she?
You stay single. You learn to build a life on your own, on your own terms. Although it may be nice to have a partner, there is a lot to be said for standing on your own two feet and letting that be the core of what sustains you through life. But it is lonely and that is a big adjustment. But that is your choice.
You start a family. Greatest responsibility in life. Raising another human being to be a good, decent person. Sleepless nights. Strained patience. Worries galore. Best job in the world despite the crazy amount of challenges and choices and adjustments along the way. But you gladly take on every one of them on an almost daily basis because there is no greater love in the world.
A loved one passes. Parent, spouse, friend, sibling. Maybe your relationship was the best. Maybe it was toxic. Maybe it was not enough. Maybe it was just good enough. You grieve in a way that steals your soul and questions your mortality. But eventually you adjust to them not being there. The void never really goes away. But you must choose to find a way to move on.
You change locations. Maybe once or twice. Maybe many times. Each time adjusting to your new home/apartment, surroundings, neighbors, and community. Exhausting, invigorating, fun, scary. So many things.
You get divorced. Sometimes it is a relief. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is ugly and painful and sad. Sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is just what you needed to move on and have peace. You adjust to living your life on your own terms. And the void you feel vanishes as you adjust to a life on your own.
Your children grow up. They leave. Go off to college. Move onto their new independent life. It is happy. It is sad. Sometimes you let go easily. Sometimes you hold on with all your might. You try to figure out what your new life without children in the house looks like. It is the movement and hecticness and craziness pushing you to your limit that you miss. The time you dreamt of having is here and most of the time you cannot remember what it is you wanted to do with all that time. You may have trouble filling your days. Or maybe you find fun, new, fulfilling things to do and new friendships that sustain you.
You remarry. Maybe. Maybe not. Either way you know more about what you would like in a partner and what you do not want. Maybe you meet someone great who fills the void and lifts you up and rekindles your faith. Maybe you learn to fulfill your own wants and needs in life. Either way, you explore with someone new or not.
You have grandchildren. Hopefully, you do because they are the greatest blessing in the world besides your own children, of course. You love them and they love you unconditionally. They fill your life with joy and laughter and fun. You look forward to your time together like it is a big, special event because it is. You spoil them and laugh with them and would give your own life for them.
You retire. It is a relief to be done with work that you were not crazy about. Or it is sad to be without the work you loved. Now you have all the time in the world to do what you wanted if you can remember what that was. You hope you have enough money to last you. You hope you have enough ideas to fill your time or try new things and come up with something that brings you joy. So many choices.
You get old. Ugh. Not sure what this one will bring as I only now venture into that territory. Optimistically, you can live out your days without an overabundance of medical issues and be able to live independently. Or maybe at some point you will need assistance. It may be difficult, but it will be OK. You will adjust as maybe that choice is made for you. In any case you’ll be wondering what the hec happened because life goes by fast! So try to remember to have fun whenever you can.
Finally, you pass. Who knows what happens next?! With utmost faith you will be adjusting to paradise and resting in God’s arms. You hope to be hearing the words, “Well done.”
Each and every stage of life warrants some kind of realignment and innumerable choices. Major or minor will be determined by the way you handle it through your own strength, conviction, or sheer will power. My wish is that you remain standing strong and able as you move from one phase to the other without dislocation or an abundance of angst. You and only you can make that choice.