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Good luck, bad luck, fate, destiny, karma.
Each word elicits an emotional response. Each describes something that seems out of my control. As such, I don’t care for them. I don’t appreciate my emotions jump-roping through commas like an Indy car leading the heart of my emotional soul by the nose. There is only one thing I can control and that is my thoughts. How I choose to feel in any given moment is up to me.
So what do I do when those words are jumping through a conversation? I choose another.
Here’s the one I like: opportunity. And the number one item on my wish list is “Opportunities for my son.” Money wasn’t abundant growing up. I wouldn’t inherit it nor did I marry into it. But whenever I looked at that little guy I knew very strongly it wasn’t about money. In my mind it was about opportunity. That delineation is very important.
I’ll tell you why.
My son was a few years old. He was an obsessive child, able to pay attention to the most mundane activity for far too long. One of those was watching heavy equipment. He lived for trucks, trains, tractors, loaders, excavators and stuff I don’t even know the name of.
One day, on the next block down in our older, middle-income, very affordable development, a loader was ripping through a neighbor’s lawn. Knowing it’d make him far happier than it’d make me, I walked my child down so I could spend the next few hours adjusting my ass on the concrete curb and boiling in the sun.
But hey, it was for a good cause.
While we sat, a voice called out behind us, obviously trying to get someone’s attention. So I ignored it. That’s the human thing to do.
It called again. And again. I finally turned. “Are you talking to me?”
She was old and crippled. Stood waving at me, strategically braced against her cane. She was probably going to read me the riot act for being on her property but whatever. I’d acknowledge her and let go of the consequences.
She started. “Can you help me?”
I’m an ass. “Of course. I’d be happy to.” What I didn’t know was this opportunity would lead to one far greater than I could imagine.
Rose was her name. Her husband had just been hauled off to the hospital and what we found out over the course of the next few weeks was he wasn’t expected to return. Rose had no idea how to run her finances, where the money was or even how much she had. She had a bum leg and was a nervous wreck about most decisions. She also didn’t cook.
You know someone is desperate for a meal when they ask me what I have to eat.
That was secondary to her main problem. She needed a bookkeeper. What were the odds that I was one? Really. Not just someone who could keep books, I had my own legitimate bookkeeping business. And what were the odds that Rose opened the door and asked someone for help who had no intention of robbing her blind?
Was that luck? Fate? Destiny? Karma? Or regular old intuition? Maybe Rose had a feeling about that short, skinny woman and her tiny, blue-eyed toddler watching the loader rearrange the earth across from her front lawn. Maybe she didn’t. Maybe she intended to rescue me from heat stroke. I don’t get too caught up in the details.
It took over a year to find out where all the money was and what life insurance policies existed and how to cash then in. Soon it became apparent to me that even though her husband preferred to remain private about his affairs, I had to find someone to get involved. I couldn’t take on that type of liability. Besides we were moving. Rose had to be in good hands. With no children of her own, she had to know someone.
Great guy. Good choice. I contacted him to let him know that ol’ Aunt Rose needed a little more direction than I could give her. Surprisingly, it took some time to convince him that yes, she was really worth that much money.
Then we had a problem. Rose wanted to rewrite her will. With her husband’s death, I can appreciate why, but it was not my place to help.
She insisted. I shut my mouth and recorded her wishes. Until her last remark.
“And I want to put you in it.”
“Absolutely not.” That certainly wouldn’t go over with the family. Besides it was professionally and personally wrong.
She continued, “Then I’ll put your son in it. And I won’t take no for an answer.”
I was fairly certain, that as soon as I handed over these documents to her family, her simple request would be deleted. On second thought, I was positive. I was so certain he would be out, I never even bothered to calculate in my head what the percentage would convert to in dollars.
Was it worth fighting with a crotchety old woman over a few hundred bucks? No. It would be a mute point after I left so why not let her have her way. My son was a beneficiary.
Here’s the funny thing about wishing for opportunity.
About seven years later I received a call from a lawyer. Since we were no longer Rose’s neighbors or thought it’d be necessary to stay in touch, the counselor had a hard time finding us to let me know that my son had inherited a “substantial” amount of money.
I laughed. There was no way the family had allowed that to happen. I called her nephew who was the power of attorney and was told, “It’s what she wanted. She was in her right mind when she wrote it, so we honored it.”
You know that feeling when something finally goes your way? I danced with it that day. Since we moved, we had encountered hardships I’d never imagined. The homeschooling education I wanted for my son took money that I didn’t have. I read the will. The money would sit in a trust administrated by Rose’s nephew and be used for health, education and welfare until the child was eighteen.
Education? I wrote a letter to the trustee pleading my case. He agreed.
Of all the thoughts I’d had up to that point that didn’t lead to where I said I wanted to go… Of all the behavior I exhibited that only facilitated more of the same around me… Of all the misery I relentlessly pursued… In the one moment I closed my eyes and prayed for opportunities for my son, I was so present, God delivered. But some important factors applied:
When Rose called out to me, I turned around.
When she asked for help, I delivered.
When she was hungry, I fed her even though what I had to offer wasn’t much.
Seven years later Rose returned the favor.
Ask and you shall receive. Don’t think you know what it will look like because all that does is impede the dream.
If you define it, you limit it. If you think it has to happen this way via these people with this much money, you might think you’re dreaming big but all you’re doing is limiting the way that dream can come to you.
You can’t convince the universe that you really, truly want something until you convince yourself. I had no idea what the opportunity would look like but in the moment I wished for it, I knew how it felt. It was most likely my desperation from our circumstances that kept me from endeavoring to define it.
Sometimes the entirety of life makes sense. This was just one of those times. Now I think back to the accumulation of experiences, even the ones that were really intense, that led to that moment and I feel blessed.
Most importantly, celebrating each moment is a far better feeling than dreading them.
Dread, impossible, unlikely, lost.
Celebrate, possibility, opportunity, blessed.
What feels best?