California Dreaming

California Dreaming, Chicago Style

Walking to the elevated train this morning through the first snow of the season, I had California on my mind.  Temperate California seemed the antidote to the late onset of Chicago winter.   As I climbed the steps to the el, right before me was the ironic contrast of my California dreaming — a snowy “California” sign, teasing me, taunting me as I slid on my winter gloves and hunkered down for the train to arrive.  Where I wanted sunny California, I got a snowy sign called the California el stop in Chicago.  Ouch!

That’s when it hit me.  My logical, sequential mind always did things like this.  It assumes that California is “A” when it might just be “B”.  Expecting “A” makes it disappointing to get to “B”. 

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more comfortable with gray areas, more open to things not being as they seem at first pass.

Coming to terms with expectation and ambiguity is a challenge, at least for me.  Wouldn’t it be great if everything was 1:1?  If you cook, you eat.  If you work hard, you succeed.  If you are good, things are good.   Why has it been such a shock to me that life doesn’t work out that way?

In any event, I’ve learned that if you seek, you don’t always find.  If all your ducks are in a row, life may still throw you a curve ball.  No matter how hard you try to stay on the straight and narrow, it might not be your path.  Or, what happens to be in store for you.  As I’ve heard it said, “You gets what you gets.”   No matter who you are or what you do, life has a plan for you that is probably not the plan you have for it.

In my exploration, I’ve found things I couldn’t have predicted, run up against dry sockets I couldn’t have imagined and seen things that are both improbable and beautiful at the same time.  The more I’ve wanted things to move in direction “A”, the more certain nothing is.  Long story short, suspending belief is both art and science, as well as a fairly decent way to live. 

This is not something I knew when I embarked on the journey to understand how burning my leg at the age of two brought me to my current state of life.  But I’m here now. 

And when I saw the snowy sign “California” this morning, I laughed out loud and took a of photo of it.  “Good one universe, good one,” I said to myself.  I’ll go with your flow, I’ll go with your flow.