The life as a book metaphor isn’t new, but it does provide a novel way to infuse some creative license and fresh thinking into what can sometimes feel like stuff happening around and to you. I encourage those wrestling with what comes next to embrace the idea of becoming the author of your own life.
At the same time you’re contemplating your own existence and character development, you can also observe more closely those around you and their life story construction. It’s never been easier to do what with all the online forums, blogs and communities available.
With the first chapters of my life out there for all to read, scrutinize and discuss I am more conscious than ever about where the protagonist (aka moi) is headed. To ensure that I don’t focus on my story line in a vacuum, I’ve become a student of how others react and respond to what comes their way.
The chapter heading for my summer — after six consecutive weekends of family gatherings that included four weeks of extended family sharing our living space (note to self: get up early if you want to score some non-stale coffee or quiet time) — would have to be “Family Adventures.” I very much enjoyed being a hands-on aunt, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, cousin and niece. I not only got lot to spend lots of time playing hostess/tour guide, I learned more about what makes each of us tick. While the company was first rate, I also realized that I missed many aspects of my life as a family of two.
Now that everyone is back to their respective homes and routines, it’s time to hatch the next stage of my life. Without the hustle/bustle, there’s abundant quiet time to reflect. There are also more hours to read, write — and surf the web. With a newly brewed cup of coffee I dropped into a RESOLVE discussion earlier today about whether to pursue adoption or accept not being a parent — two very different sorts of lives. One comment in particular (one I’ve heard many times over) “don’t think of adoption as a consolation prize” took on a different meaning for me as I read further through the sometimes anguished discussion.
Since successfully conceiving and delivering a child is the goal of fertility treatments, it’s no wonder women and men are angst-ridden and at a loss when the outcome isn’t what they hoped to achieve. The fertility industry (now nearly $3 Billion a year), which focuses on the mechanics of fertility, is of little to no help emotionally as evidenced by one studyafter another.
While it’s common to see adoption and consolation prize caution used in the same sentence no one ever talks about not parenting after infertility this way. Instead they typically whisper about the prospect with fear and dread. The conventional wisdom about those not parenting after infertility is that we’re somehow living a life “less than” one lived as a parent, or worse, our lives are perceived as one never-ending chapter lived unhappily ever after.
While the period between not succeeding with infertility treatment and the painful coming to terms with the loss of a dream is incredibly difficult — whether the decision is to adopt or not to parent — it also leads to conceiving a different narrative, a new set of chapters. We never know exactly where our stories will lead. For instance, who would have guessed that this blog would be included in a piece on the website AllParenting.com?
Certainly not me!
We all experience obstacles, setbacks or challenges in our lives. How we respond to them is up to us. If you’re looking for some life metaphors constructs, I came across these thought-starters from Leonard Holmes, a clinical psychologist. He writes:
“We have to stand back a long way to see patterns like this in our lives. A few examples:
- A Battle – Everything is a competition or a struggle. We are always either winning or losing.
- A Garden – Relationships are cultivated like flowers or vegetables. We see things as growing, flowering, producing.
- A Mission – We believe that we have the truth and we need to convince others that our point-of-view is right.
- A Journey or an adventure – We travel from place to place meeting new people and exploring.
- A Building – Starting with a solid foundation, then adding floors and rooms.
- A Roller Coaster – Life consists of ups and downs, and we are along for the ride.
- A Stained-glass window – full of light and colors.
- A Mountain Climb – Life consists of hierarchies. We are always climbing the corporate ladder.
- A Battery – Every encounter seems to drain energy. We need the weekends to recharge.
- A Race – always finding the fastest route, “keeping up with the Jonses.”
- A Courtroom – Everything in life should be fair.
- Stepping Stones – We barely get comfortable where we are before we are looking for better job or a bigger house.
- A Prison – Feeling like we don’t have choices, like others have all the power.
- A Classroom – There are always new lessons to learn.”
Is there one that feels more familiar than another? Fortunately we don’t have to settle for what someone else assigns us, and we’re not wedded to one metaphor indefinitely. We have the freedom to sample and see what fits best. As always, welcome your thoughts or stories of reinvention.