I love books that carry messages tucked within the pages, the books that leave you ruminating on the lessons hidden in the story. Several years back, I read The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews. In his parable, Andrews weaves together vignettes to tell the story of middle-aged David Ponder who finds himself at a crossroads in life and discovers the “seven decisions that determine personal success.” Periodically, Andrews breaks from the story to clearly define and apply the “decision” related in the preceding pages. The Traveler’s Gift quickly joined the ranks of East of Eden, Death of a Salesman, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Alchemist and Water for Elephants, to stand among some of my favorite reads. In fact, I liked it so much, I made his adapted “teen version”, The Young Traveler’s Gift required reading for both of my girls while in middle school. The principles conveyed through the time-traveling main characters are both powerful and timeless. However, even powerful and timeless principles need an occasional refresher course, leading me to pull my dusty copy off the shelf for a recent re-read. Good stuff in those pages, good stuff.
Invariably, the books that land among my favorites offer something different each time I read them, impacted by the “who and where I am in life.” The first time I read The Traveler’s Gift, the 6th and 7th “decisions” (“I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit,” “I will persist without exception,” respectively) were the two that resonated the loudest. At the time, I was going through a particularly rough patch mentally and physically. I had been in and out of hospitals and their operating rooms, and I was harboring the (self-directed) anger and resentments of a small army of cell phone-denied teens. Reading Andrews’ book made me aware of the choices I was making and reminded me of the better decisions I could make.
This time around, it is the 2nd decision, “I will seek wise counsel,” that has jumped from the pages and screamed for my attention. Ironically, it is the same decision that resonated loudest with my older daughter as she transitioned into her high school years. It makes sense; she was at the start of a “transitioning period” herself then. She applied Andrews’ guidance and sought the counsel of myself and others to guide her through the roller coaster high school years. At the threshold of her own high school years, her younger sister is beginning to follow suit, seeking counsel from myself, her sister and others as she moves into high school.
Like two strong currents that meet in the ocean, transitioning periods can create an emotional maelstrom when confusion, fear and indecision meet the energy and excitement of fresh opportunities. Though Edgar Allen Poe and Jules Verne would lead you to believe maelstroms are the inescapable whirlpools of death, a well-informed captain trusts the wisdom of those that have skillfully sailed the waters before her and carefully navigates through the tumultuous seas, arriving on the other side more confident and appreciative of the welcoming calm.
Perhaps, my contemplation makes it obvious I heeded my sister’s recent
tough love advice (On sisters and tough love). Her counsel and Andrews’ book got me thinking about the years ahead and the direction I’m heading. (Even bought a new journal, that’s how serious I am. 🙂 ) Good decisions begin with taking responsibility and seeking counsel, be it a book, sister, friend, pastor, rabbi, or even a perfect stranger with applicable experience. Wise counsel offers the voice of reason grounded in solid principles. It moves the seeker to take stock of where they are, where they’re heading, and alerts them to potential pitfalls.
Regardless of who you are or where you are at in life, odds are pretty good there is some level of transition going on inside or around you. Often landing on the edge of a maelstrom, I frequently, and I mean FREQUENTLY, benefit from the counsel and experience of others. Thankfully, I’ve got a plethora of awesome “counselors.” And, like love, good counsel shouldn’t be hoarded. A primary purpose of this blog is to
vent share some humor as well as the lessons I learn and the wise counsel I receive as I transition into the empty nest years. The fact that I like alliteration (hence the catchy name) and mid-week pick-me-ups to keep my energy flowing, made Wednesday’s the obvious choice to “share my gurus”, the wisdom and links of those that have built and crossed various bridges before me. So, be sure to click on the links, comment on the blog topic and/or share the life wisdom you have gleaned along the way.
Louisa May Alcott said, “I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” I’m not afraid either, because I’ve got some really terrific gurus traveling with me.
Andy Andrews’ The Traveler’s Gift is found here on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Travelers-Gift-Decisions-Determine-Personal/dp/0785273220/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1311780552&sr=8-1