Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Unexpected Destinations

Years ago I was randomly flipping through channels trying to find something to watch other than reruns of M*A*S*H for the 534th time, and I came across a movie that had Tyne Daily in it. I have no idea what the movie was called and I only caught the last five minutes of it, but I stopped anyway because, well, it was Tyne Daily. And I can't think of anything she's ever been in that I haven't liked.

She was giving a lecture in a large auditorium about what it was like raising a special needs child. I was just in the beginning stages of adjusting my life to this illness, and what she said in that movie affected my attitude more than any advice I had heard before or have heard since.

I'm obviously going to paraphrase as I don't remember the exact wording, but in the movie she said that finding out you have a child who is sick is like taking a trip to Italy. You spend your whole life dreaming about this amazing trip. Others that go there tell you stories about the city, the architecture, the people, the food. You study the culture and learn the language, save up your money and get on the plane.

And then right before you are about to land, the stewardess gets on the microphone and says, "Welcome to Holland."

You stand up and shout, "But I'm not going to Holland. I'm supposed to be in Italy. I've prepared for Italy and that's the only place I want to go. I don't want Holland."

But there are no more flights to Italy, and you have no choice but to stay in Holland. You complain and you brood and you tell everyone you see that you were meant to be in Italy. And then you stop and look around. And you realize Holland isn't such a horrible place.

It has a slower pace than Italy. But the people are kind and the flowers are beautiful and they have their own culture to admire. And you start to realize that while you planned and longed to live in Italy, if you let go of the disappointment of being left behind you see that maybe Holland is exactly where you were meant to be.

And you learn to appreciate it's beauty.

And you find things to be grateful for in your unexpected destination.

Tyne Daily caught my attention on television that day. But her words changed my outlook on life. Whether it is a huge life change like being sick or simpler changes in day-to-day plans, I often stop to remind myself that it's ok. I just thought I was going to Italy but I landed in Holland. And I've learned to stop looking at where I think I'm supposed to be... because that's when I'm able to see the beauty in where I am.


  1. Sara,
    I look under Tyne Daly's Filmography and think that the movie you saw was Kids Like These from 1987 - probably a rerun. I had no idea she has been in so many films.

    Your take on appreciating a different perspective is very enriching. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thank you for writing this ... I'm thinking that this attitude could be applied to so many of life's circumstances ... we may not understand why we're heading down one path rather than another, but if we'll stop worrying about the "why" and look for the joy in the journey, maybe the "why" will reveal itself to us in time.

  3. This is so true, for everyone who's ever experienced 'derailed' plans.

  4. I LOVE Tyne Daily!! Especially for her role in "Judging Amy." What a fantastic analogy and I appreciate you sharing it. It really can be applied to so many unexpected situations.

  5. Darn it you've made me cry again. But so true. I have a form of MD (they have never figured it out but I have had it since birth) and my sweet daughter has it too, but not as bad. You just deal. And Holland is just as beautiful as Italy, in it's own unique way. And life - however challenging -is beautiful too.

    by Emily Perl Kingsley.

    c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved

    I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

    When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

    After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

    "Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

    But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

    The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

    So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

    It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

    But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

    And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

    But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.


    I work with special needs kids, I hear this essay a lot. It was written by a mom who gave birth to a child with special needs.

  7. Thanks, hismom... she said it better than my memory served. :)

    sara (gitz)

  8. Sara...here's the thing, I've been reading over your entry's and making myself NOT comment. I don't want to be a bother. But this is such a God send...I'm in a place with several major areas that are not what I planned. Thank you for a reminder that there is a fresh perspective that's worth looking at...I'm adding you to my blogroll and telling my friends to check you out...thank you~