“Welcome to Holland”

In the book entitled “Maybe you should talk to someone” by Lori Gottlieb, chapter 12 is most memorable because it hits home. The title is based on the essay “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley, a mom who has a child with Down’s Syndrome. It talks about having your life’s expectations turned upside down.

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 flight attendant 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 Rembrandt.

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.

Welcome to Holland, by Emily Kingsley

The story here my friends is simple. There are times that we will never get what we work for. What we wish for. Life is never made to be fair. As one friend of my mom (who has Lymphoma) would say, there are good days and there are bad ones. We smile at the good days, punch away with the bad ones and when we’re still alive tomorrow, we thank the almighty for another sunrise.

When Emily had a child with Down’s, she landed in Holland. Not a bad place to be. But like most mom’s, she wanted to be in Italy. Those of us who have had bad days never expected our flight plans to be redirected. It is infuriating. After all, we chartered that destination for the longest time. We rationalise that pent up anger because Holland isn’t the place we wanted to be.

If we huffed and puffed at every misdirection in our lives, we’d end up miserably angry at ourselves and at the world. But the story of Emily provides us a lesson in hope and reality.

The other day was a bad day for my mom. Whenever she hears people moving on to the after life, she gets more depressed. I can’t blame her. I’d feel the same way if I were in her shoes. If I made you complete the sentence Before I die _________________________, how would this sentence look? Get married. Go skydiving. Say sorry to my wife.

And so many, if not most of us, make a bucket list. Gottlieb tells us like it is:

We think we make bucket lists to ward off regret but really they help us to ward off death. After all, the longer our bucket lists are, the more time we imagine we have left to accomplish everything on them. Cutting the list down, however, makes a tiny dent in our denial systems, forcing us to acknowledge a sobering truth: Life has a 100 percent mortality rate. Every single one of us will die, and most of us have no idea how or when that will happen. In fact, as each second passes, we’re all in the process of coming closer to our eventual deaths. As the saying goes, NONE OF US WILL GET OUT OF HERE ALIVE.

Lori Gottlieb, “Maybe you should talk to someone”

The lesson from Emily’s essay on “Welcome to Holland” is straightforward. We make plans, but sometimes those plans don’t come to fruition. For most of us, the alternative route isn’t as devastating as it seems. You see, wherever life takes us, we need to roll with the punches. It’s the only way we will survive a world that’s never fair.

And if you liked this post, get the time to download the book from Kindle or purchase the book. Because who knows, Holland might just be a good place to be, after all.

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