“Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes
How many times have we thought we knew what was best for someone, but felt powerless to get them to see it? I have had that experience many times (as a coach, keeping my mouth shut when it won’t help the situation is a consistent challenge!).
Yesterday morning the phone rang, and when I saw the name on the caller ID, the first thing that crossed my mind was that it was a family member of an old friend calling to tell me she had passed away. This was a friend whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while. She was such a committed alcoholic that I stopped being able to connect with her. Nothing I had said or done with her helped her with her situation. I never fully gave up on her, I just didn’t expect to see her again and was resigned to loving the friendship we once had, but letting it go.
The voice on the line was clear, strong and energetic. It was (to my amazement) my old friend! And she called to tell me she would be in Dallas this week, she wanted to see me, and that she had finally gone to the Betty Ford Clinic, dried out and quit drinking once and for all. What a moment!
This friend made a different choice, finally, and is living a new life. Does it mean that she only came into her “Life Entrepreneur” phase when she quit drinking? I say no. After knowing her for almost 40 years, I am certain she has been a Life Entrepreneur all this time. Her choices worked for her, for whatever reasons, and my job isn’t to judge whether she was right or wrong. My job is to notice what she did to live fully. She was creative, had friends, built a life, stayed alive and well in her own way, even when I found it difficult to connect and relate to her.
We can be so subjective about what is “acceptable” for other people–we can so easily form opinions and decide we know what the future holds for others. In actuality, I could not know where her life path would lead her, and the best thing I could do for her, and for me, was to just love her–without conditions, without demands, and without even being in contact.
My dad used to say, “the definition of an unbaised man is one whose prejudices agree with mine.” I have my own values and found it difficult to stay in regular communication with my dear friend who made a choice to drink. But I’m so glad I didn’t stop caring about her, and I’m so grateful she called to tell me her news.
I eagerly look forward to a face to face visit so I can learn more about how she will continue to carve out her life and make new choices. And I am so grateful I’ve learned a little bit about unconditional love, so I can welcome her back into my experience with open arms.