I had a wonderful trip to
last week. The weather was perfect: in the 70s, bright sunshine, a crisp blue
sky. I was able to take advantage of some of the walking trails the city has to
offer, many beside water. And, of course, I drank copious amounts of coffee,
brewed by hand by the cute barista at the local café a few blocks from where I
was staying. What could be happier than taking an early morning stroll through
a charming neighborhood to enjoy fresh, hot coffee and a good book?
As happy-making as all of that was, the highlight of the trip was the evening I spent with my friends, Lee and Lisa. I’ve known them for more than 25 years and it has been fascinating to follow their journey over that time. Lee and Lisa have two biological children. It is these sons who led Lisa to the path that would be their “great” journey. It was in their younger son’s school that Lisa first met Siobhan. This little girl was in trouble, her home life filled with chaos and neglect. Over time, seeing the need, Lisa and Lee felt moved to take her in, to foster Siobhan and to eventually adopt her. Now grown and a marine, Siobhan was married this summer.
Through this one little girl, Lisa and Lee found what I think of as their true calling. They have gone on to adopt two more children and are fostering another (and hope to adopt him), nurturing them and advocating on their behalf to see them each begin to emerge and thrive for themselves. As I listen to Lisa, I hear that she is fully herself in this parenthood work. And Lee, my poet friend, also expresses himself fully through parenthood, poetry, and a unique ability to be fiercely present in this world.
They have come fully into themselves, their true selves. I don’t want to imply that they don’t have challenges or pain in this life but I think that, even when faced with challenges, they are able to stay centered in themselves.
I am not advocating for all of us to go out and start fostering needy children today. What I am suggesting is that our job in this life is to be the best version of ourself, our truest self, we can be.
For Lee and Lisa that has come in loving six amazing children, as well as writing and gardening and child advocacy work.
For others of us it may be working with the homeless or creating a beautiful work of art. Or being the best soldier you can be. Or the best employee. I know people who are dog people, they rescue them and make a place for them in this world. Your particular gift may be the gift of stillness and you are your best self when sitting in silence.
Whoever you are, be the very best Amy, Paul, or George you can be. That is your job. No one else can do it for you. And doing that, being yourself fully, being the best at being you, will bring you joy, just as it has my dear friends, Lee and Lisa.