Speculation (n):

The forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.



My friend read the book, Department of Speculation, by Jenny Offill and posted this quote from the book:

How had she become one of those people who wears yoga pants all day? She used to make fun of those people. With their happiness maps and their gratitude journals and their bags made out of recycled tire treads. But now it seems possible that the truth about getting older is that there are fewer and fewer things to make fun of until finally there is nothing you are sure you will never be.”

I fell in love with that quote so much that I knew I needed to get the book, immediately. I read it in a day. It’s good. Abstract and hard to follow at times but good. There are so many pieces of the book that I can relate to and so many things that I thought, “Wow, I couldn’t have said it better.” It’s a book written in fragments that I imagine connect with so many. It’s a book that challenges your speculations about things.

I find myself in a position where I have to make a very big decision. It’s forcing me to really think through my priorities. It’s forcing me to really think about what is the best for me, for my family, for our lives. I think there are different times in your life when you come to a fork in the road. A fork where you have to turn right or left. I’m at one of those forks. This time it isn’t an easy decision and I really want to hop into Dr. Seuss’ book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” and turn right and three quarters but maybe not quite. I am trying to figure out how I can turn both right and left at the same time and you know, it’s just not possible. So I stew.

I wake up some mornings, put on fancy business clothes and have meetings with executives talking about really remarkable things. Research at Children’s hospitals. How to increase donor funding? Developing the next generations of leaders. Some days I stand there in my fancy business clothes thinking to myself that I really can’t believe I’ve come this far in my career. I remember being in my early twenties and there was a Director who I admired. I thought someday I want to be like her. Someday I want her job. I’m going to work really hard until I get that job. I never really thought about how much she would have to balance with her career, her kids, her husband, her family, her life. I just speculated that her life was perfect. She was perfect. I wanted perfect. At the time, perfect was getting that title of “Director”.

I wake up some mornings, like today, stay in my yoga pants and spend the morning chaperoning a school field trip. Talking to parents who don’t work outside the house and think to myself, I want that. I want to stay home and be there, every moment, for my children, for my husband, for my friends, for my life. Yet, I don’t for a moment speculate that their lives are perfect. I know they aren’t. In fact, I know now that the life of that Director I admired in my twenties, well her life isn’t perfect either. It is impossible to have a perfect life.

The difference between thoughts in my head this morning vs thoughts in my head when I was twenty is I have lived life between. I know that often what you speculate is false. What you think you know, you really don’t know. I know that nothing is perfect. I know that no one is perfect. I know that nothing is what it seems. I know that everyone is dealing with some type of issue. Some type of hard decision. Some type of news. Everyone is dealing with something.

I also know that many years ago I never thought I would ever spend an entire day in yoga pants. I always thought that would never be me. I speculated, well, honestly made fun of those people. I am that person now. I spend lots of days in yoga pants. My husband recently said it’s my go-to outfit.

My first job at that Director level was eight years ago. It’s funny, I got the title and never really thought much of it. All that I had speculated about the feeling of the title seemed to have either gone away or was no longer a big deal. I’m not sure why, but reaching that level didn’t feel like I thought it would feel when I speculated the feeling back in my twenties.

I suppose the difference from my twenties to eight years ago is that by the time I reached that point in my career I realized that maybe it didn’t really matter. I was a wife and a mother of two amazing children. I had already decided that what I wanted in life, what I wanted to be known for is being a great Mother. I wanted to be known for being a great Mother and it wasn’t the opinion of my friends or family that mattered. It would only count if my children told me that I am a great Mother. I also had already determined that them telling me I am a great Mother doesn’t count until they are in their twenties. I want them to look back and know without a doubt that their Mother did the best I possibly could, and while not perfect, did the best I could, so that made me a great Mother. I want them to know that I really thought about the balance between being there for them and being there too much. I want them to know that I value their independence, their individuality. That I trust them and gave them the confidence to stay home alone yet be home when they really needed me. They could run off and play with friends but also always have someone home to come home too. It’s important to me that they learn how to do things alone and learn that it’s perfectly fine to be alone. To be a great Mother I have had to find the right balance of work outside the home and being in our home. I’ve never lost sight of this since I held my first baby over 12 years ago. It took longer to reach that title I so wanted because of balancing life with work and a baby. Maybe what I really realized 12 years ago was that the title didn’t matter. Maybe that is why it was a milestone that almost went unnoticed when I reached it eight years ago.

 “In the year 134 B.C., Hipparchus observed a new star. Until that moment he had believed steadfastly in the permanence of them. He then set out to catalog all the principal stars so as to know if any others appeared or disappeared.”

Maybe that is life. A series of speculations that we are always trying to make things or ourselves or situations appear or disappear. I didn’t know there was a different path to take. I wasn’t even looking for a different path. Yet, here I am now having to decide whether or not I turn right or left or right and three quarters or maybe not quite. I have speculated so much about each path that I really think my head could explode. I have found myself looking for stars that I didn’t even know to look for. And honestly, looking for stars that I don’t really want to be looking for.

So, for today, I sit here in my yoga pants, hair in a ponytail with a puppy on my lap. I sit here realizing that I don’t have to speculate what life is with yoga pants because I already know it. I also don’t have to speculate what life is what fancy business clothes and titles because I already know it. Today what I know is the life that I speculated of the woman who wears yoga pants is nothing like what I thought it would be and that holds true for life of the Director who I so admired in my twenties.

Maybe the moment we stop speculating about what life could be is the moment we realize what life is. The speculation of the different paths has caused me to realize there is no more need for speculation. Everything I want, I already have.

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One comment

  1. Amber – beautifully written and I know you made the right decision.

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