Derek Maisonneuve has a question for you. Well, questions really, with an ‘s’ on the end, for there are many he needs answered, but he’ll start with this one: what if the life you’re living now is a total lie?
For instance, let’s say you grew up in a household with two older brothers, a trucker for a dad, a carnie for a mom, and you spent every Saturday night watching Hockey Night in Canada even though you have never enjoyed the sport of hockey. That’s what those around you did, and you were a boy, and there wasn’t a lot of television channel options back then, so you went with the flow. Now let’s say when you finished high school, you went to graphic design school instead of going to New York to become an artist like you really wanted to because your parents made it clear that you were just a regular person and regular people don’t go to New York to become the next Jackson Pollock. They go to graphic design school because that was the only ‘artsy fartsy’ program on which your parents were willing to compromise, and at least a diploma in graphic design would give you a chance at landing a steady and respectable job.
That’s what you’re doing right now, sitting at your cubicle doing something respectable: designing a brochure for a HVAC company. It’s not a glamourous gig, but it pays for the house, the video games your kids love, and the mini-van you never dreamed you’d ever buy because mini-vans say ‘boring’ and ‘I’m just barely getting by’ and ‘I set my clothes out each night before bed’. They’re practical, though and practical lets you off the hook for all the food wrappers covering the back two rows where your kids sit – something you couldn’t get away with if you drove a Mercedes.
Now, suppose you go home tonight and get a call from a lawyer representing the hospital in which you were born, and this lawyer tells you that you are not the child of a trucker and a carnie at all. You’re actually the offspring of an acclaimed art historian, and you have four younger sisters. You and some other kid were switched at birth! Oopsie. Derek asks only because he received just such a phone call shortly arriving home from work today.
Many thoughts raced through Derek’s head when he received the news, starting with “Hmmm, perhaps this explains why I care for long distance road trips, roller coasters, and playoff season about as much as I care for going through my yearly physical.” He then wondered what would have happened if had grown up as the older sibling instead of as the baby in the family. Would he have become more of the independent leader-type instead of the one who still feels the need to be coddled? He was then curious to know if he might be in New York right now painting a portrait of his beautiful mistress instead of sitting on the toilet worrying about whether or not the model he chose for the HVAC brochure he was in charge of designing looked like a true authority on furnaces.
How would receiving such news affect you? Would it change how you view your place in the world, or would you be all zen-like about it and tell yourself that the universe pushed you in the direction your life was truly meant to go? You don’t have to answer right away. I hear your phone ringing, so go answer it. It may be something life changing.