Now, for the rest of my life

Published 12:13 pm Friday, January 7, 2022

The rest of my life

Last year.  It was good.  It was better than good.  It was great. It was my journey from college to the real world.
And now?
Well, now for the rest of my life. 
This year didn’t start out for me up on a hang glider.  This year began in Atlanta on a rainy New Year’s Eve.  But the truth is that I’ve been preparing for this year for all of 2021.  I’ll dive into that in a bit and chat about how all my preparations mean nothing, but for now, I’ll introduce you to my new column.
“Now, for the rest of my life.”
Remember when Paul Harvey, American radio broadcaster, told the snippet of a story and finished with, “now, for the rest of the story…”?
Allow me to be your new Paul Harvey, folks.  I’m pleased to share with you a snippet of my life, and at the end of the story…well, you know the rest.
So back to the original story I want to tell.  Picture it: August of 2017.  I was eighteen years old, had my backpack all stuffed and ready for my first day of freshman year.  I even remember what I was wearing that day––a tee shirt under a light flannel, a pair of shorts, Converse, and my hair was in a ponytail.  Just like every other father that day, my dad had me stand in the doorway with my backpack on so he could snap a picture of my first day of college.
I drove to school and parked in one of the many empty spots behind the library, where I saw only three students walking across campus. Then, I went to my classroom, not passing a single student, wondering if I had shown up an hour too soon but seeing that I was only twenty-minutes early.  So I found an open office where a professor was typing on his computer and asked why my class wasn’t in session and where the heck everyone was.
Indeed, the worst had happened.  The most embarrassing thing in the world: I showed up to my first day of college a day early.  Classes, in fact, began the next day.
Imagine the humiliation of calling your mom to explain that I was on my way home.  But imagine seeing, years later, the message behind that “yikes” moment I had to experience as a freshman.
I decided that day once I got back home and tossed my backpack on my bed that the next day––the ACTUAL first day of college––I wouldn’t care what I’d wear.  I wouldn’t fix my hair.  I wouldn’t take another classic “first day” picture. 
The day would have no expectations, but I’d simply show up for it.
I said earlier that I’d been preparing for this year for all of 2021.  And I was, but subconsciously.  Because now, see, I don’t have any expectations for this year.  For relationships and for jobs.  Perhaps if I did, I’d have shown up with a calendar full of plans only to have learned that patience is key to seeing what the rest of my life holds.  Because life happens when it’s least expected.  Courage happens when it’s least expected.  Love happens when its uncalled for, and doors open where you can see only walls.
And now, for the rest of my life.

By M.M. Cochran

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