Going Through the Open Doors

Life and your career will not be a straight line. I always tell folks who ask for my advice on career, school or life, “Go through the open doors.  It may not be on the path you think you want, but go.” I’ve had an interesting and rewarding life and even though I’m attending grad school about 40 years later than I wanted to, I’m glad I went through the open doors.

Also, read critically and broadly and not just what you like or agree with. Laugh and have a sense of humor. Know how to take a joke. Know what a joke is. The problem with some folks today is they think every hill is a hill to die on and it’s not. Be secure in who you are and be willing to change.  That is the key to success and to contentment.

One of the best things I get to do is to speak to people all over the state and the country. Most of the time it works out, but sometimes someone comes up to you after you finish and tells you, “Great job! But, you’ve got something on your jacket.” Literally, I gave a speech recently with whipped cream on my jacket.  Thankfully, it didn’t show up in any of the pictures, but I had to wonder how it got there. Best I can figure is this amazing lunch was one from old southern memories.  A pot luck extravaganza! Of course, one of my biggest weaknesses is this kind of event.  The food conjures up so many memories of my youth and going to events like this with my mom.

You see, my mom was the southern one, from Lexington, South Carolina.  She was Miss Lexington County 2 years in a row in the late 1930s.  She didn’t have enough money to go to the Miss South Carolina pageant, which I’m sure she would have won and that would have fed into Miss America–back when it was really something to be Miss America. And her family could cook. We had “big boned” people in our family when no one else did. So mixed marriages can work–A Dodgers fan, Brooklyn Dodgers, from Jersey City and a gal from Lexington, South Carolina can live happily ever after–and they did.  But I digress.

Back to the food at hand..or on my jacket. I’m guessing in the little bit of this or that I put on my plate, I somehow got whipped cream from a fabulous layered dessert in my hair and then planted on my jacket and the rest is history. Oh well!

So, back to the open doors and be fearless.  There will be some embarrassment, but mostly, great experiences and interesting people. And sometimes, going through the open door, means meeting with people who you know are going to disagree with you on issues, but aren’t we really the same and they are just issues, they are not humanity, “being on the wrong side of history,” or the end of the world. Jesus said in Matthew 26:11, “For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.” Let’s keep the world in perspective.

There’s a lot of talk about issues today which mostly happens in a construct of interacting only with people who think like you. That’s what I’m working against.  I believe every person’s point of view has value and means something. One of the reasons I went back to school in the first place is I’m a life long learner and I love people and I love discussing things. The best thing about school and the job that I have is the people I meet and see what we can learn from each other.

I think it’s going to be a great day.