Welcome to Holland by Emily Perl Kingsley
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like you’re planning a vacation to Italy. You’re all excited. You get a whole bunch of guidebooks, you learn a few phrases so you can get around, and then it comes time to pack your bags and head for the airport.
Only when you land, the stewardess says, ‘WELCOME TO HOLLAND.”
You look at one another in disbelief and shock, saying, “HOLLAND? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I SIGNED UP FOR ITALY.”
But they explain that there’s been a change of plan, that you’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
“BUT I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HOLLAND!” you say. ‘I DON’T WANT TO STAY!”
But stay you do. You go out and buy some new guide books, you learn some new phrases, and you meet people you never knew existed. The important thing is that you are not in a bad place filled with despair. You’re simply in a different place than you had planned. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy, but after you’ve been there a little while and you have a chance to catch your breath, you begin to discover that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland has Rembrandts.
But everyone else you know is busy coming and going from Italy. They’re all bragging about what a great time they had there, and for the rest of your life, you’ll say, “YES, THAT’S WHAT I HAD PLANNED.”
The pain of that will never go away. You have to accept that pain, because the loss of that dream, the loss of that plan, is a very, very significant loss. But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to go to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.
It's funny how life works. It seems like every time you go into something with a game plan, something changes. Life forces you to be flexible and look at a situation from a different perspective. Upon reading this, I knew it was a poem focused on having a child with a disability. A parent goes into a pregnancy ready to care for a healthy child but is thrown a curve ball when their child has gifts that they were not expecting. When my mother read it, she thought of all of the parents she has worked with coming into labor with a birth plan that never works out as expected.
What did you think about?
Was it the career path you thought was the perfect fit that ended up not being what you were passionate about? Was it the relationship that wasn't meant to be that resulted in a beautiful friendship? What has been a moment in your life that something unexpected resulted in something just as beautiful as the anticipated, but different?
I am the type of person that likes to have everything planned. I came into college thinking I was going to major in neuroscience, go to medical school and be a doctor. As beautiful of a life as that would be, the change in life paths that I have chosen are just as beautiful, but in an alternative way.
"'Jesus replied, "You don't understand what I'm doing now, but someday you will"' (John 13:7)."
This bible quote lives on a canvas on the wall of my dorm, and as hard as it is to swallow sometimes, I find its application more than fitting for this poem and for everyday life.
There is nothing wrong with having a plan. Go into life's situations with expectations that make you excited for what is to come. However, when life does decide to throw an obstacle your way, do not blind yourself of all of the special in the alternative. This poem changed my outlook on life and emphasized that there are miracles in everything.
Welcome to Holland, and welcome the unforeseen.