Saturday, March 7, 2015
During one of Dad’s and my ventures to the infamous Tuesday Night Talent Shows, a woman performed whom we hadn’t seen before. Her song was lovely but what really captivated me, were the comments made by the show’s master of ceremonies. As she was walking off the stage, he said, “What’s interesting about you is that you reached age 59 and changed your name. I guess you re-invented yourself?” She smiled and told him that was true. He made a couple more comments about her name change and she left the stage.
She struck me as an intelligent thoughtful woman, and this public exchange stuck with me for a couple of reasons. It was a fairly shallow interpretation of this woman’s decision making process, and I was pretty sure there was more to the story. A few days later, I ran into this same woman at the mailroom. I introduced myself and told her, I enjoyed her performance, her re-invention, and pretty much figured she was, most likely, my hero. She said, “You know, I didn’t just change my name. I changed my life. I worked in a corporate environment, and saw that everyone around me was terrified of getting older. I decided I wasn’t going to do that. I changed EVERYTHING. I sold my things, bought a motor home, traveled for three years, and moved across the country. And…….I never looked back. It’s interesting that the only thing many people recognize is the fact that I changed my name. I think it’s much too scary a concept for a lot of people to accept. I changed everything.”
I recounted this story to a few different people and was met with a similar response. It wasn’t a choice they would make, and that being the case, they felt she must have been living a lonely, sad life. I saw things differently. She didn’t seem to be suffering, and she looked pretty contented. I saw it as story of strength and change from a remarkable woman. There is a message in all of this. It is not necessary to live the life that others expect. Believe in yourself, live with a purpose and for a purpose, and never forget your connection to others. Her break from the mainstream, gave her power. Her story serves as a reminder to all of us that Joseph Campbell was right: “Follow your bliss.”