Yesterday I took my grandson to a new museum. It was one of those crazy, Chicago-style windy days that would blow him off his bike, so even though we both have spring fever, being inside was the smart choice.
Some friends here who’ve already spent winters in every possible museum or bouncy house told me this SciTech Museum might be a little advanced for a four-year old, but of course I smiled, knowing that “MY grandson” was exceptionally bright and it would be just fine. So off we went, steering my car back onto the road, fighting hurricane-force winds.
After taking our jackets off, and my pulling out a small rake to restore my hair to something other than a the “Back to the Future” look, he headed straight for the chase car on the first level. Yep, they really do chase tornadoes out here in the Midwest.
Then I spotted the large pool-like table with two holes and a ball about the size of a tennis ball resting in one of the holes. Instructions asked, “Which hole will the ball roll into? “Me first!”, he said as he dropped the ball into the bowl of the table. Seemed pretty obvious to his 4-year old mind and pretty obvious to me (my age shall remain with me) which hole the ball would drop into. As it rolled down and around the curved terrain, it looked as if it were going to settle right into the logical hole. Our mouths dropped open as it then moved back up a few inches, toward the second hole. Surely, that’s where it would end up. No dice! In and out and back to hole number 1, where it finally found some peace. Wow! He’s four, and wonder was enough to make him happy. Not Grammie. She just had to make sense out of it. It was “supposed to” land where I thought it would. There was some part of me that felt a little out of control, wanting the outcome to match what I thought I knew to be true.
We moved on to watch a machine that replicated a tornado, a skeleton that talked, and trying to dodge 85 kids there on a field trip. My mind was still thinking about that table. It didn’t make sense.
So often we go through our lives thinking things will end up a certain way, that people will behave in just the way we think they should. That our bodies will always act and be the way we want them to be. That our friends and partners will be who we want them to be. That life should be what we were led to believe… ordered, predictable and understandable, if we just put our minds to it.
It’s taken most of my life to finally get it. Life, bodies, relationships, plans, goals, expectations are completely unpredictable. Our need to control, to be perfect, and to hope beyond hope that we will avoid pain, disappointment, sadness and heartbreak if we just do the “right thing”. That success will come, money will remain in our retirement accounts, and we will be happy if we only work hard. It only takes living long enough, watching those myths dissolve and finally knowing that life is, as the Buddhists have been saying for thousands of years, unpredictable and filled with mystery.
We headed out of the first floor exhibits a few hours later. Walking by that curvy bowl of a table, I couldn’t resist picking up that ball and dropping it into the bowl again . As I let it go, I saw the title of that exhibit…”CHAOS”. Yep, that’s life. Make the best of every moment and enjoy the ride!
Donna Bailey, MS
Coach, Speaker, Writer and Expert in Dating and Relationships for Grown-ups
Donna’s Big RED Chair