I talk about growing up a lot. How that's what I've been doing for the last twenty three years. How that's what I'll be doing for the rest of my life. And sometimes, when I'm brave enough, I try to imagine what my life will be like in five, ten, or twenty years. I'm usually quite unsuccessful at it. Because, one, I am so unclear about what it is that I want in life that the image is too blurry to make it out anyway. And two, because I find it easy to convince myself that there is no way of knowing what will happen, and therefore, there is little purpose in playing the what-if game.
I had to play that what-if game today, though.
It was less than an hour ago. I was singing along with The Shins' "Pink Bullets" on my iTunes, heating up some left-over chicken and biscuits dinner-in-a-box I'd "made" last night, and thinking up ways to avoid doing my homework. My phone rang, and it was my sister.
With the recent deaths in our family and the financial and legal challenges that come along with it, I'm getting quite used to this being the topic of my phone conversations. But as I told Holly yesterday, talking about money gives me a rash. Probably because money generally signifies responsibility, and we all know that the thought of responsibility makes me come unglued. But you know, I'm dealing.
So this particular conversation with my sister started off with references to will-making and life insurance and all those pleasant things that I've grown accustomed to talking about. But before I knew it my sister was asking me if, at some point in the future, I would be willing to be listed as guardian of my nieces in the event of my sister and her husband's death.
[Insert silence here.]
What happened, though, was so contrary to my form that I'm still in a bit of shock. I was already nodding my head affirmatively and prepared to give a yes before my sister was finished asking the question. I, the me who hems and haws at any sort of decision or responsibility, discovered in that moment that if there is anything I am sure about in my life, it is that I would accept responsibility for raising Victoria and Kathryn if I had to. I would not bat an eyelash in doubt.
It is a responsibility that I hope I never have to assume because it would be indicative of other unspeakable tragedy. But as I leaned against the kitchen counter in my unkempt apartment that reflects my relatively self-centered, college-student life, I was able to look into a possible -- but not probable -- future in which I was okay. I was responsible -- not because it was a characteristic of my personality, but because it was the role in life that I had assumed. Through that tiny window of possibility, I could see that everything was going to be okay.
There is a lot of talk about life being what you make it. And you know, I can see that. But we can spend so much time trying to make life be something that it isn't, and in the meantime, we end up missing the life that is or forgetting that, sometimes, life has a way of making itself for us. What we can do is become the sort of people who make decent decisions in our given cirumstances.
For me, the future is still just as blurry as ever. I don't know what will happen. None of us does. What I can say, though, is that the present -- which is always morphing in and out of the past and the future -- came into focus some. And that's all we can really ask for.