The cycle of life can be depressing. You watch as your children grow up and leave home, as your parents age, as your career winds down and your life shifts direction and, as you realize, much more of your life lies behind than ahead. But amidst the changes, the misdirects and the redirects, there are always lessons learned.
As I review my own life, I realize there are symbols that significantly reflect the stages traversed along the way, and they communicate important messages about the life experience. In particular, I consider the cars I’ve owned and the truths they’ve revealed about my station in life at the time.
When I first got my driver’s license, my parents bought me a fire engine red 1964 Ford Galaxy 500. I was so proud of that car. It represented everything I wanted to be—shiny, clean, sleek and fast—and it was all mine! Sadly, I only kept that car for a year and a half because I sold it to help pay my way through college. That 1964 Ford Galaxy 500 symbolized my start in life—my enthusiasm and excitement for what was to come. It was my adrenaline.
Throughout my bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral education, I had various used cars that made the cut for simply transporting me from one place to another. They were nothing fancy, nothing shiny, nothing new. They were my accommodation.
When I became a “we,” with baby on the way, the car needed was less about what was new, hip or fancy and more about what could transport a family. Three babies later, that car became a mom car—a conversion van equipped with a VHS player to entertain the little ones. Through the years of my children going to school and growing up, and my career blossoming, the few vehicles I drove were ones that could comfortably haul the family around. They were my abundance.
With children grown, blossoming on their own and leaving home, I have come full circle, and I am now fulfilled by the joys of family and achievements and the prospect of pathways yet to be traveled. The car I now drive is a 2017 electric blue metallic hardtop Mini Cooper. It represents everything I am—shiny, sleek, clean and fast—and it’s all mine! This is my adventure.
Yes, the cycle of life can be a difficult road to travel. But along with the difficult comes great reward. Life gives us the adrenaline we need to forge new frontiers and create opportunities. That adrenaline then accommodates us through the complex days, the days of change and transition when things aren’t quite as fruitful as we’d like. As we grow into what feels like the busiest, most intense time of our lives, we experience abundance—of love, of hope and of dreams yet to come true. And, then, having gone full circle, the adventure begins again.
So, wherever you are in the cycle of life, rest in the assurance that there’s more to come, more to see, more to experience, more to live. As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” I say “enjoy the ride!”