On a day like many of the others this winter, the horizon melted into the dismal gray of old snow. Whether it was run off from the warming ice or fresh flakes that liquefied on the road, the highway itself matched the wet, wilted world of the Middle West in February. I drove from Indiana back to Nebraska alone and silent. Through the windshield, my white car’s grimy exterior mirrored the hills and sky. A haze coated the world. My eyes blurred. My heart sank. This winter had extended too long.
In an effort for something, anything, to clarify the view, I pushed the button to activate my windshield wipers and fluid. There was little chance of an improvement with my broken wipers. Yet, with the sudden stream of cleaning fluid and the staccato of my hardened wipers stuttering across the glass came a miracle: the view truly cleared. The horizon still faded into oblivion, and my car was still stained. But I could suddenly differentiate so much of the scene, could suddenly tell that I had been staring through a mucky window expecting it to be clean. Before I had hindsight to explain my situation, I had thought I had seen clearly. Then, I clearly saw.
How often in life do we discover the truth in this metaphorical experience? I know for my part I have spent hours, days, weeks, dare I say years considering myself an enlightened viewer only to be sideswiped by a sudden onslaught of clarity. These moments burn because they cauterize wounds we didn’t realize we had. Initially we feel robbed even though the universe never promised us anything at all. We may be angry, dejected, disillusioned. Almost universally we are disappointed.
I have been reflecting a lot on broken plans and hindsight. When I was in elementary and high school, I expected to be a writer. Tirelessly I typed away, generating new takes on classic fairytales and semi-autobiographical works built around my adolescent fantasies. I went to college for writing, applied for a competitive major in writing, received affirmation after affirmation for this chosen path. And yet, when the crucial moment came, I had to walk away. Leaving behind writing broke my heart—even if I walked away with the peace of a prayerful soul. I just had no idea how God could be working through the roadblock.
Yet, God has. In hindsight I discover how many innumerable and beloved experiences I have gained through the abandonment of my past dreams. In hindsight I realize what foolish and shallow hopes I used to hold—hopes that now appear incomplete, immature, and downright dull. Why I spent so long crying over the changes in the course of the river or the digressions over unappealing terrain I do not know. Why I seemed incapable of considering everything with perspective, I cannot explain. Yet now, as I stand at a new fork in my road and contemplate all the quirky sidesteps that have led me to where I am, I cannot bemoan any of the seemingly counterproductive experiences I’ve weathered. Everything has led me to this point, and whether I can make sense of the past or no, I am thankful for it all.
I guess that is the solution for all the momentary inconveniences or smashed dreams we experience: thankfulness. On the other side of our heartbreaks we meet the beauties we never saw coming. If we can recognize these blessings, if we can embrace these revisions to our dreams of yore, we find there is no other option but to be thankful. And in our thankfulness we discover a renewed sense of trust in the path ahead. I do not know what will become of me, whether I will leap for joy or rent my garments, but I am peaceful about all that is approaching. Blind as I may be in this journey, I know I’ll see everything through 20/20 eyes, in hindsight.