Life's Twists and Turns

by Lauri Gwilt
March 26, 2017
Life's Twists and Turns

 

The last time I saw him we were just eighteen years old. It was graduation day, and I remember our conversation like it was yesterday.

We didn’t tend to run in the same crowd, but on this celebratory day he and I found ourselves sitting together on the grassy boulevard near the school. The fact that we hardly knew each other didn’t seem to get in the way of us sharing our hopes and dreams with one another. When it was time to go, we offered our appreciation for the unexpected conversation, and headed off to make our way in the world.

Fast forward thirty-five years to an event earlier this month. Amid the din of 700 spirited voices in an acoustically challenged room, our paths crossed once again. After the hugs and expressions of joyful surprise had quietened, he smiled and asked, “So, what have you been up to for the last three decades?”

We did our best to compete with the noise level in the room and provide a snapshot of how our lives had unfolded so far. Each of us had a kaleidoscope of stories to share that reflected a full range of highlights, lowlights, and shades in between. Not surprisingly, our stories showed some similarity, but for the most part, were quite different from the eighteen-year-old versions we imagined for ourselves on that grassy boulevard.

The timing for this encounter could not have been better. For the last couple of years, I’ve been focused on the power of story and the choices we make with respect to how we create and tell our stories. And not just the stories we want for our future, but also the stories from our past.

While I’ve been given my share of blessings, I also don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times in the last thirty years that things didn’t turn out the way I had planned. Countless times I’ve been left wondering why certain things happened and others didn’t, or why just when things seemed to be going right, they took a hard-left. How we interpret these kinds of experiences is key, because those interpretations become our stories.

There’s a myriad of ways to interpret life’s twists and turns. Some of those ways are more helpful than others. With practice and reflection, it gets easier to connect with the bigger picture of why our paths unfold in the directions they do. When I take a mental step back and look at my story overall, I could draw the events and encounters like a ‘connect the dots’, each twist and turn leading to the next dot, and the next dot, and the next – each one leading me closer to here, today. And with each dot comes a little more knowledge, a little more strength and resilience, and even new opportunity. How often do we hear ourselves say, “If this hadn’t happened, then I would never have _______.” (met this person, had the idea, learned this, discovered that)  

We are the authors of our stories, which means we get to choose, and even change, how we tell them. Any story, anytime. As Dewitt says, “Change your lens, change your life.” The celebratory stories are easier, it’s the ones we need to go looking for what was right about them that requires intention, and when we do, it's a game changer. 

He may not be a world-famous rock star, and I may not have starred on Broadway (yet), but I have this amazing collection of twists and turns that got me to this day, and it’s a pretty cool story. It was a sunny afternoon in June...

To be continued…

Back to the blog

Can't tell in strong enough words how closely your words reflect my thinking of late. Don't know if it's because of my age, or the fact that I'm doing some writing about my life, but I do know that you are a talented writer, and I appreciate that you shared your innermost thoughts. Thank you!

WOW! Your comment left me gobsmacked. Thank you so much for offering such generous words, Vinnie. I will cherish your comment for a very long time, thank you for taking a few moments to share them. Wishing you great success as you continue to capture your life story.

So very well written Lauri! Thanks for reminding me of the importance of the twists and turns!

Thank you for taking a moment to offer your thoughts Sherrin! Here's to the twists and turns that we've survived...and to the ones that have yet to be. May we navigate them all with all the grace and gusto we can find!

Your blog came at a perfect time - today we got a notice of our 55th high school reunion to be in October in Indiana. Both my husband and I were in the same graduating class - lots of fun, and yes, stories of our life-paths (with or without twists and turns). I think that how much you share often depends on if your current path is straight or in a "twist or turn". One seems to lean towards talking about only the "feel good moments" in our lives - sort of like the annual Christmas letter, which is usually only filled with "good news". However, if you are currently experiencing a major twist/turn, you may be more apt to share that moment. Once it is over, we tend to only want to concentrate on what lies ahead in a positive way. I think that if we could all understand that it is the twists and turns that often teach us life-lessons, strengthen and build our character, we would be more apt to share them with others. The important thing to remember is to also share the stories of resiliency, survival and hope that brings you back to the path that leads you in the direction of your hopes, dreams, empowerment and life-fulfillment. Thanks again, Lauri, for opening my mind and heart! I love that your path is "silver coated" and so inviting!

I could not agree more Barbara. Revealing our true selves takes courage. And practice; particularly in a culture that has taught us to prefer showing our best selves to the world. It's true that the feel-good moments are the easiest, most fun parts of our story to share, yet some of the most treasured conversations I've had the opportunity to engage in are the ones where both of us have had the courage to be transparent. Not in a way that burdens the other one with our woes, but in a way that offers a true snapshot of life's twists and turns, lights and shadows. There's a developable skill to celebrating the good and the bad simultaneously. Part of that skill is to practice looking for the good within the things that aren't going as planned - not just in hindsight, but while we're in the middle of it. As you've said, it's these experiences that teach us life-lessons, strengthen us, and build our character...so why wouldn't we find a way to celebrate them. Crafting and sharing our story - whether it's the one we tell ourselves or others - in a way that is empowering, hopefully allows us to navigate a smoother, more enjoyable journey down the path.

Once again, thank you for taking a few moments to offer your thoughts on the posts. I'm finding I need to set almost as much time aside to craft a thoughtful response to your comments as I do to writing the blogs! You always add another layer, another dimension, to what I write and I'm so grateful for that! Thank you Barb! <3

Thanks for share with us the secret of perspective

Thanks back to you for taking a moment to offer a comment Elsa! It's so meaningful and helpful to hear if it resonates with others!

A good read may be "Chase the Lion" by Mark Batterson

Ooooo, thanks for the suggestion JT! I'll seek it out!

"Life is what happens while we are making other plans." Beautiful essay, Lauri. Can't wait to read the continuation of this narrative of your life experience. Thank you.

BEAUTIFUL quote to summarize the post James! Thank you for taking a moment to send it! And as far as a continuation goes...with any luck there will be MUCH more to write about! :)

Twist and turns and then some. Beautifully written Lauri.

Sounds like you know about it, and then some! Thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts about the post Karen!

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