If you’ve seen the movie Forrest Gump, you’ll smile as you remember the line “My Momma always said, Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
As a control freak, my advice would be “look at the inside of the lid Forrest, you’ll see exactly what you’re getting, no surprises”. My rational side says don’t take the risk, do your research, consider your choice, look for your favourite first, and so on.
But this approach, whilst “safe”, misses the mark – unless you have a serious food allergy, ANY chocolate is a fabulous treat – and there is the chance you may be surprised by trying something new and finding you really love it.
At some time in our lives, it seems most of us stop taking risks and stick to what we know and are comfortable with. Of course, I’ve encouraged my kids to “try things” when I’ve considered it appropriate – try this fish, or a different vegetable, a new sport or a new musical instrument; their privileged upbringing allows them many opportunities. It’s easy to discuss how stepping outside our comfort zone – just a little – has benefits at home and work. But what happens when life serves up things we didn’t plan for and can’t control? Serious illness, accidents, redundancies, relationship breakdowns, financial problems. These things have not been packaged up and delivered with a bow from Cadbury online; they happen to ordinary people we all know each and every day, often out of the blue.
This is the point where I think Momma Gump has it right. Life is unpredictable; you can plan and try to control what you can, but as Forrest’s story shows, eventually amazing things can happen as a result of even tragic events. In my case, the movie wasn’t enough – when crisis hit me hard I needed several well qualified medical practitioners, some medication and some very good friends to get my mind to realise the glass is ALWAYS half full. But once that realisation really hit home, it has become incredibly powerful in all areas of my life.
Growing up in England I was hardly a water baby – once living in Sydney, I was at best suspicious of the surf – by no means comfortable in the water. But my newly liberated, post medicated self was persuaded a few years ago to take up the challenge to try surfing. Totally ridiculous you might think – but that first day getting pounded in the white water unleashed a previously hidden surf chick, and struggling bruised (and bleeding!) from the shallows that first day I had unexpectedly found a new passion.
If you’d told me even 5 years ago what my life would look like today, I would have chuckled politely, rolled my eyes and shown you to the door. Sure, I’ve been to some dark places, and challenges exist very day – but life is surprising, delightful and full of unexpected joy – largely because I no longer look at the inside of the chocolate box lid, I keep my eyes up and just dive on in.