I recently read an article in the April Redbook about Ashley Madison, the dating site for cheaters. I read it when the magazine first arrived in March, and since then I’ve been hearing about the site all over the mainstream media. Little “did you knows” on HLN, attacks from conservative groups trying to shut it down, outrage from the religious community. I find the entire thing absolutely fascinating, so today I pulled out the article and took another look. I was struck by this quote:
“Have you heard the analogy that life is like a funnel? That you start off with such a wide range of possibilities, and as you tie yourself to things through the years (spouse, bills, house, kids, career), the range narrows until one day you’re pretty much completely restricted at the tip of the funnel?”
When I read that quote I sighed and thought for a moment – just one moment – this is SO TRUE. And then I stopped and realized that the opposite is in fact true. Life isn’t a funnel…it’s a tree.
When life starts out, it isn’t really about a wide range of possibilities at all. In fact, life is really very small, the world is what’s just outside your door. Even in the supposed glory days of the teen years, you are limited by money, rules, reach. A trip thirty minutes to the next town might be the biggest excitement in your month. Sure, less doors are closed to you. But it doesn’t mean they are open. They just aren’t there yet.
As you begin to tie yourself to things through the years, possibilities suddenly open up before you, your life branching out in new directions. You meet classmates and professors who introduce you to new subjects, new towns, new job possibilities. Eventually you tie yourself to a spouse, and his or her world becomes yours, doubling your collective experience. Then you begin to build a family with that person, one child, then two. Suddenly you are no longer an individual but a team, each one of you bringing experiences to the whole, the doors of possibility flung wide open! It was as a mom that I began to see what my life could be and that it could change in an instant to something completely different.
Being tied to other people has taken me in so many amazing directions that I could never have predicted my life as it is today ten or even five years ago.
I’ve been a full time stay at home mom, a teacher, a writer, a business owner, a public speaker. I’ve worked with Walt Disney World, been on the TODAY show, parent helped in my daughter’s reading class, slept in on a Sunday just because, and slip-covered an entire sectional couch without any real knowledge of upholstery.
I’ve woken up on a Tuesday and decided that two Saturdays later I would take my entire family for a weekend at Disney without telling anyone. And then I did it.
The decisions that I’ve made – the things and the people and the choices that have tied me down as this man would have me believe – have been the inspiration that has driven my life.
My life is a tree, not a funnel. And I can’t wait to see what blooms next.