In the final paragraph of The New Yorker profile of Rita Jenrette, a Texan who married a prince and became Principessa Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, writer Ariel Levy ends with the idea that could the Principessa visit her younger self, much suffering would be spared. She'd tell her, "You're going to be a princess."
Royalty can't travel back in time, however, and all any of us can do is look back. The long view of where life went when we were busy living it--this can be reassuring. Sometimes it's not.
Three years ago, when I volunteered for the Obama campaign, which met up in a boxing gym, you couldn't have told me that I'd be up in that ring sparring. As I waited for instructions, I looked around and thought, Wow! A boxing gym. Pretty cool. Then I took off with my assigned partner and hung election day reminders on the broken down doors of the nearby neighborhood.
Three years ago, while I tried to survive an aerobic kickboxing class, I would have laughed if you'd told me I'd be teaching something similar. And that laugh would have taken the oxygen I needed to keep up with a 70-year-old next to me.
These are minor achievements, yet they're markers I can track from very specific moments in time. They teach me that if I keep moving forward, keep listening and growing, life might just give me a royal surprise.
Has life handed you some welcome surprises?