Standing on the brink of age fifty, I have never been happier with the work I am doing and the life I am living. But if you had told me when I turned forty that in ten years I would be writing a blog called No One Is Broken, and that I would be coaching clients and interviewing writers and editing a magazine and homeschooling my son, I would have thought you were describing the life of some strange Bill Kenower lookalike. At that time I still had one plan and one plan only – to become a novelist. I had been preparing diligently for that job since I was twenty-five. Having a firm and dedicated plan, it seemed to me, is how one made his way in the adult world.
Yet here I am. The path I have traveled over the last decade has been anything but direct, and has unfurled step-by-step as all my myriad plans came and went. What has surprised me most about where I am now is not the content of what I am writing, nor that I am homeschooling my youngest son, nor that I have clients, but that all the while I was living life as I thought it should be lived, life itself was preparing me for the life I would most want to live. My hours spent wondering idly about what makes me human prepared me for this blog; my early frustration with traditional schooling prepared me for homeschooling; and my lifelong preference for the confessional intimacy of one-on-one conversation prepared me for coaching.
I do not think there is anything unique about my story. In fact, I think it is the only story. A human could no more meaningfully plan his life than a gardener could construct a flower molecule by molecule. The movement of life and the gravitational pull of love operate independently of any nearsighted human plans. This is a particularly poignant truth for parents whose children have been diagnosed on the spectrum. In many ways, our fears for these children are a reflection of the scripts we have unconsciously written for their future and our inability to perceive how the life we imagine for them can be reached from where they are now.
But how exactly am I supposed to know what Sawyer’s life as he is living it right now is preparing him for the life he will lead if I could not know what my own life was preparing me for? All I know as I look at him is that the organizational properties of love, the constant and faithful guidance of preference and curiosity, are as operative in him as they are in me. Life excludes no one. Life abandons no one. This is not an indifferent game won or lost by the toss of some genetic dice.
Which is to say, in those cramped and dark hours when I begin to worry because I do not know how he will be okay somewhere out beyond the limited horizon of my perception, I must remind myself that it was never my job to know how he would be okay but that he already is okay. This I can always see if I choose to look for it. It comes disguised as whatever’s happening at exactly that moment, life so ordinary it is easily unrecognizable for what it always is.
I am the author of Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence, and Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. Learn more here.