If I had to wear one dress on this page, which would it be?
If I had to eat one thing on this page what would it be?
If I had to marry one boy on this page who would it be?
I think a lot of girls played this game. At least my friends and cousins played it with me. What made the game even more fun was when your choices were less than desirable.
The funny thing about that last question is I remember at recess in grade school giggly girls would cluster around the pavement while the boys played base soccer and ask, “If one of the boys in our class had to be your boyfriend who would it be?”
More often than not we chose the same guy. Interesting – and a little revealing as to how few we regarded as “dateable”.
A couple years ago I went to a softball game to watch a group of friends from my ward play, as I often did. One of the girls from my ward was watching the game as well. She scooted next to me and whispered, “If you had to marry one of those boys out there tomorrow, who would it be?” I wasn’t surprised at her question because this was actually her favorite game. She played it at parties, at barbecues, in Sunday School…
Funny thing was, even though I adored all my friends out there, my choice as to who I would actually marry was the same as hers. And she informed me the other girls she polled previously had the same answer.
Things really haven’t changed much since 4th grade.
How practical we were at such an early age. The questions weren’t set up as “If you could” they were “If you had to”. We already understood it was futile to think in ideals. We had to look at the page in front of us and make our decision based on availability. If someone took away that page and you were allowed to have unlimited options you probably would have a different answer – what you REALLY wanted whether it was real or imaginary.
Why do we feel we must resolve ourselves to settle for something simply because it’s in front of us? Is it because we think what we really want isn’t available or "out of stock"? Do we think we're being unrealistic, too picky and should be happy with what we have in front of us?
I know I'm using boys as an example here, but I'm talking about all choices we have to make. Where we want to live, what job we want, what skills we want, what dreams we have.
If you’re familiar with Randy Pausch, he said something in his famous “Last Lecture” that I really liked. He said brick walls aren’t put there to keep us out; they’re put there to show us how badly we want something.
I guess sometimes we just don’t want something bad enough. I know that’s true for me in certain situations. But we also learn as we grow up that we don’t always (or sometimes ever) get what we planned no matter how much effort we put into it.
I was in a car with one of my good friends the other night and I told her I’m beginning to think life is just a long strand of “B Plans”. But what I think to be more true, is that life isn’t about plans at all. It’s about the opportunities that come to you, the choices you make, and how you deal with the consequences – good or bad. It’s about what you do with what you’re given.
It’s like that old saying, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans.” Hopefully you’re making the most of what is given to you and you accept accountability for the choices you make. And then maybe later you realize the choices you made opened up possibilities that weren’t even on the page you were looking at to begin with.
I’m not building up to reveal any life lesson I’ve learned here. I don't write from any specific retrospect or hindsight. I'm old enough to have gained a little bit of hindsight, but I have yet to prove what I’m saying is true to my life and everything works out for the best and if we live right and make wise choices we eventually find what we really want -- whether it was there to begin with or not.
I’m counting on it though.