“Get busy living or get busy dying.” Stephen King, Shawshank Redemption
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Im sure you’ve either read or heard of ”Welcome to Holland.” Its a fine essay written by a fine woman. The idea is that when you have a child with special needs, it’s like you were supposed to board a plane to Italy, but you ended up in Holland. I won’t go into the how that must make the Dutch feel. “Sorry, no one ever really WANTS to go to your country.” Although, Holland isn’t supposed to be a bad place, just a different place. You get the drift. It’s a metaphor. The nice part about the essay is that it gives parents with children with special needs permission to grieve the child they thought they were going to have. It’s nice.
Here’s the problem for me I never really felt like going to Italy either. Both of these places (in the essay) sound so mapped out. Holland? Italy? A normal life or a slower life? Those are my choices? Is there a door number three? How do I get to extraordinary?
I’d been contemplating life a lot before Down syndrome was even in the picture. I’m not the person who really knows where they’re headed. Luckily, my husband is much more focused. I’m sort of a wanderer who doesn’t wander. It’s the introvert/dreamer in me, I guess. The problem was that the day-to-day living was just wearing me down. I didn’t see any larger picture or any real direction. I was drifting. I loved (and still do) being a stay-at-home mom for Fynn, but what was next?
A month or so before I gave birth to Mia, I had a thought that continues to run through my head even now, “What was I doing before that was so important that this child is going to ruin it?” The fact is that before this experience I had two choices – either get busy living or get busy dying. Now I dont mean dying in the literal sense of the word, but I mean that I have to live or just exist. You either get off your butt and do something or spend the rest of your days sleepwalking through life. I needed a wake-up call and I got one – even if it wasn’t what I expected.
So door number three. I dont want to go to Italy or Holland. I want to go to Zihuatanejo. According to Stephen King, it’s a place where you can start anew and everyone is welcome. I think it sounds amazing, and the best part is that I get to make of it what I want. It’s a place where we can go with the flow and set our own schedules. We can sink our feet in the sand, watch the waves roll in, and enjoy life as it comes. We can make life a beautiful adventure instead of a competition.
So there you have it. I’m going to hang out in Zihuatanejo and not worry so much about where everyone else is going.