One of the most frequent questions we ask throughout life is what comes next. We begin early anticipating the next thing to come along. When, as a small child, I began playing with other kids, it was normal to finish one activity and to be looking ahead to what the next thing would be. Can remember staying with my grandparents when my mother was in the hospital giving birth to my sister. Although I was too young to have abstract thoughts about what it might be like having a sister, I know I was eagerly anticipating what was coming in my life with the birth of a sister.
As any child, I looked forward to Christmas and birthdays. I can recall some of the gifts I received when I was too young to even know what I wanted. I have vivid memories of going to bed on Christmas Eve and waking up in excitement and anticipation of what was coming Christmas morning.
Some of my early memories include our family getting our first television. Some of the programs we watched are a blur to me, but one I remember was the Howdy Doody show. I would wait in front of the TV each day eager to see what was coming in this important aspect of my young life. The characters on this and other shows became real parts of my young life, and I looked forward to the things they would experience each day and could not wait to see what was coming next.
Around the time I was five, we moved to the house my parents lived for the rest of their lives. We got to see the house being built. Every few days we would go out and walk around as construction continued. I remember being excited to pick up discarded bent nails and scraps of wood as we saw our house taking shape. Even at five years old, I have strong memories of anticipating what was coming next. That house was my home until I went to college. A lot of my what comes next events took place in the context of that house.
Looking back, the escalation of events that ended in a what comes next scenario grew in both intensity and rapidity during those intervening years. Career choice, college, the choice of a spouse each had a very strong element of what comes next. Most of the things that have come next in my life have been positive. A few have been very traumatic. Mostly all of these events have resulted in changes I could have anticipated beforehand.
While some of these events leading to what comes next have resulted from decisions we have made, some have come about as the result of events that were beyond our control. This is the context of events such as the current crisis. A lot of what comes next seems to be a real part of our daily lives at this time.
As we move forward, particularly in this time of crisis, it can be helpful to review events in our own lives that have resulted in our wondering what comes next. Realizing the times in life we have already faced this question and come through with flying colors can help us face the question of what comes next today.
As we move forward, we can also use what we have learned to assist others in facing and working through this question. “What comes next?” We don’t know for sure. We do know that we should be confident we can face it together and succeed, together.