Amy Roberts: Option B
June 9, 2015
A little while ago something happened that temporarily threw my universe out of orbit. I wasn’t expecting it and certainly hadn’t planned for it and when it happened, it left me feeling out of balance for a bit. Like my equilibrium was off and I just had to endure the spinning because I didn’t know how to make it stop.
Though my situation wasn’t anywhere near as terrible, I briefly thought to myself: This must be how people feel when their boss tells them the company they’ve worked at for 20 years is closing tomorrow and they no longer have a job. Or their spouse comes home and out of nowhere announces "I want a divorce." Or, when you learn a loved one, who just left for a quick trip the grocery store, was killed in a car accident on the way. Things that we naively assume only ever really happen to other people.
"That won’t happen to me," we tell ourselves. "I’m going to go to college, start a rewarding career, be married by the time I’m 28, buy a house, have 2.5 kids and live happily ever after." We all sell ourselves our own version of that storyline.
No one plans for a tragic life. We don’t say to ourselves, "What if my mom gets cancer and I can’t go to college because I have to take care of her?" We don’t assume the worst about our own lives. We don’t allow ourselves to consider we might not get the things what we want. And so, we don’t plan for Option B.
Foolishly, we all like to be believe our Option A is going to work out just as we intended. We like to picture a life where no one we know and love will get sick, or die young or leave us. And when Option A doesn’t pan out, boy does it feel like whatever rug you’ve been standing on has been ripped out from under you. It’s hard to figure out where to go next when you never expected to be where you are.
Last week Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg wrote a touching, heartfelt post about her husband’s unexpected and tragic death. She was raw and profound about her grief and the lessons she is learning from it and gratitude she feels towards those helping her through it. She wrote about resilience and heartache and facing a future she never considered. And then she wrote about Option B.
Recommended Stories For You
She mentioned an upcoming activity for her children she had planned for her late husband, Dave, to participate in. A friend of hers came up with a plan to fill in for Dave, so her children could still take part. She wrote how she didn’t want this new plan; she wanted "Option A." And her friend said, "Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the sh*t out of Option B."
And then she promised her late husband she would do just that. She would move forward with Option B, and though she might hate it and mourn for Option A, she was sure as hell going to give it her best shot.
As I read that, like millions of others, I was moved. I thought about my own personal mini-disaster unfolding. And Option B gave me hope. We all face adversity and get derailed at times. Sometimes, we don’t just fall off the track, the entire track we are on disappears and we are left wondering which way is up.
But there is always an Option B. It might not be what you want, and it’s never what you planned, but it’s what you’ve got. And your only option then is to make the best of it.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.