My mother, when she was dying, said to me, “There are no wrong answers, Kris.”
She was speaking from the vantage point of someone who has nothing left to lose. Someone with the luxury of looking back on a life filled with worry about making the right choices and realizing, in the end, most of those choices become irrelevant.
I was torn between staying at her bedside and going back to Chicago to take care of my kids. I felt I did not have a choice. My kids needed me. I was the glue in our household. But my mother needed me also.
Recently, I was worrying about the right job, the right parenting, the right financial and life decisions. As I’m sure many of you do. Few of us are immune to trying to game the system for the best results.
In most situations, you can stay put until forced to move or choose to venture into a lesser known option. Think “Who Moved My Cheese?”.
If you’ve not read the book, it’s about four characters who strike out to find cheese (which represents happiness and fulfillment). They find a spot where cheese awaits them each day. One day, the cheese is no longer there. Two of the characters set out immediately in search of new cheese. The other two keep returning to the same spot, angry their cheese is gone. The rest of the book is about their ability to adapt or not.
I have never been very good at the art of staying put. I tend to want to act when things are shifting around me—sometimes before things are shifting around me. And yet, despite the moral of “Who Moved My Cheese?”, sometimes waiting is not a bad option. Until life shows us a direction. Until our gut feeling kicks in to give us a clue as to the wise move.
I remember, just out of college, driving my very temperamental old car to visit friends at my alma mater. On the drive back to my parents’ house, the car broke down on the turnpike.
As steam escaped from the hood and trucks whizzed by, I considered my options. I was a young twenty-something alone on the side of the highway in the days before cell phones were prevalent. In the middle of a rural area. And it would be dark within the next hour.
I’m sure many people would have waited for a state trooper. But that could have taken hours and a lot of good luck. And who knows who else would have decided to show up? Possibly less welcome company.
I ran across the turnpike, climbed a barbed wire fence (ouch) and jumped into the cornfield below. As I jogged through the corn, I finally hit a country road. Following it, I was chased by a large dog which I fortunately outran. I finally came upon a house and knocked on the door. The woman who came to the door would not open it but talked to me through the screen.
Her husband was a state trooper. And he was at the family party in the backyard. He was able to call his buddies and tell them the approximate location of my car. He then walked me back down the road and through the field to get to it.
Was it fun, my little adventure? Not really. The barbed wire, dog and suspicious woman were not my idea of a house party.
But was it better than sitting and waiting passively?
And don’t think it was lost on me that the first house I happened upon was a state trooper’s home. What are the chances of that? And of me outrunning a German shepherd?
I think back on my mother’s response to me as I despaired over which of my loved ones took precedence.
There are no wrong answers.
I feel the weight of her words through the years since. They reverberate in my head, almost daily. At the moment, I did not realize she was telling me something I needed to carry with me for the rest of my time here. I’m not sure if she realized it either. But, in retrospect, those words carry a gravitas very few others have for me.
I was raised to worry. And it didn’t take me long to figure out that action is the antidote to it.
We can sit in the car and wait to be rescued. Sure. Nothing wrong with that, if we’re willing to accept that what may come along might not be rescue but something less appetizing.
Or, we can endure some short-term, temporary pain—barbed wire, mean dogs—and strike out to influence the ultimate outcome.
My gut told me to act. I listened. If it had said otherwise, I still would have listened.
There are no wrong answers. They all lead us somewhere—and maybe even to the same ultimate destination.
But the quality of the journey is at stake.
I have been rescued. It is rare that it provides you with the same solid feeling that rescuing yourself does. It’s a wonderful feeling while it lasts but for me, the better feeling is knowing I can rescue myself. Repeated rescues by others breed passivity and a lack of confidence.
At least in me.
I’ll be straight with you. There are days I pray to be rescued from whatever it is I’m facing. And I mean it, wholeheartedly.
But I have learned to act. To be grateful when I do, even if I wait a bit too long.
My journey has been the better for it.
183 Comments Add yours
This brought tears to my eyes.
Your decision of whether to stay with your Mum or return to your children was very similar to the constant dilemma I faced with my mother the last twelve months of her life. I was knee deep in the mud of the property settlement and faced with the fact that I had to push through with that to free myself to be with her and yet I had to be away from her so I could. Each time I left her for another two week’s “wading” I knew she could go while I was away and I may not be with her when she went This caused me much angst.
Another part that resonated with me was the theme of waiting or acting. I have always had that little bit of this-doesn’t-work thought when reading blog-posts about meditating or hoping or thinking of the positive as a way of coping with difficult issues. I have always thought only action works. If you are overweight, or in a financial crisis, or your house is a mess; sitting and waiting will not solve anything. You have to get up and do something.
(although you put this far more eloquently than me).
I so related to your struggle (via your blog) when you were taking care of your mom and torn. it came through loud and clear in your writing. And I so felt for you. You truly feel torn in those situations. I’m glad both situations are resolved and you’re hopefully wading into peace, albeit tempered with some necessary action. I know that feeling all to well also. Funny, sometimes our milestones aren’t the real milestones. It’s the day to day work we have to put in after them . . . .
Reblogged this on The Little Good Stuffs and commented:
Such an inspiring piece about taking actions and not waiting for answers or waiting for the right one that is. As the truth is, yes, there are no wrong answers. =)
Thank you for the reblog! Truly appreciate it:).
Oh pleasure! I truly love and believe that note. It is absolutely right! =)
Reblogged this on healthy bodies happy life and commented:
Doing something is better than giving up
Thank you for the reblog!
Great write! I’m not good at waiting either. I tend to problem solve. I’m going to follow your blog.
Hi Kristine. Very moving. With your permission, I would love to post “Search and rescue” on http://earthschool.life. We can provide author byline and reference your website URL. All U.S. residents are also automatically entered into our writing contest (no entry fee). Thank-you for your consideration, Mary. email@example.com
Reblogged this on gender_concerns and commented:
Thank you so much for the reblog. I just took a peek at your blog and a lot of good content there!
Thank you so much. You have inspirational stuff too. I will read more of your pieces.looking forward to more of your write ups
Thank you so much,
Reblogged this on Wings I Wrote.
I so appreciate the reblog! And am so glad you stumbled upon my blog:). Can’t wait to check yours out.
I am moved by your mother’s words, there’s a lesson to learn from your post. I am glad I had a chance to read it. I am a young blogger, do let me Know what you think of my blog. 🙂
Have a Great Day .
Reblogged this on Be Fearless & Take Risks.
Thank you, Jessica, for the reblog and for stopping by!
Love your blogs! 👍🏼 and you’re welcome!
I thought of an quote that although a tad bit simplified kind of echoes what you said in your post. It goes something like the difference between a person who is drowning and a person who is swimming is that one is kicking their feet.
If you search out biographies of famous people; it is extremely difficult to find a story that speaks about someone sitting it out to become someone great. There is no guarantee that you will find success. You might not hit it big at all. Even if you do not; you could at least have some entertaining stories to share. Such as being chased by a dog and finding yourself at the home of a Trooper.
I love that quote! It’s new to me but definitely one I’ll remember. And you’re right–the ones who sit it out are guaranteed only the sitting. Not peace. Not success. Just the sitting . . . thanks for stopping by:).
A beautiful way to share your journey, thank you!
There are no wrong answers.. So very simple yet so moving. As a girl in my 20s fighting leukemia I definitely feel the stress of logically laying out my options or just going with my gut. Your blog provided a unique perspective that I found so refreshing.
Oh my goodness. Talk about having to figure things out. My good thoughts and prayers go out to you. I hope you’re surrounded by sages of all kinds–medical, spiritual, emotional–and that you have learned to trust your soul. I’m glad you found my words helpful . . .
your mama gave you wise words thanks for sharing.
Reblogged this on my8dragonflies's Blog and commented:
Great insight from your mother! These words will stay with me too. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for the reblog! And the kind words. Mom would be very happy to know her words were sticking with a far larger group than just me:).
Reblogged this on Human Relationships and commented:
Search and Rescue
Beautifully written, and very moving. Well, except the dog part, that sounds terrifying. That is a very valuable lesson we all need to learn, and thank you for taking the time to write it so eloquently!
Amazing post! Just sitting will get you, well in the same spot. Seems like it is an easy task, but many people fear the unknown. I am on a journey as I write to get out of the rut that I am in. I am now more afraid of standing still then moving forward.
Love that:). Because if sitting still means following your gut that’s one thing. But usually, for most of us, it means we’re just afraid and stagnating. Good for you!
Reblogged this on Living in the moment.
Thank you for the reblog! I truly appreciate it:).
I enjoyed the read! “There are no wrong decisions,” I will remember this. Thnx for sharing.
So glad you enjoyed it:). Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
Reblogged this on DEATH BY GINA.
Thank you for the reblog!
No, thank YOU for your inspiration.
Reblogged this on physician21.