The first chill in the air or the tiniest bit of frost on the pumpkin means I can bring out my favorite Squidfire hoodie and walk fearlessly into the fall. Before I even knew the name of the clever design, which is pure genius by the way, I fell in love with the art. There was just something irresistible about that menacingly playful toothsome grin and enormous eyes of the colossal squid – the biggest eyes in the entire animal kingdom and four of them (for good measure, I suppose) – with a tiny, unsuspecting cat perched precariously atop its head.
“Uncertain Future.” Indeed. But, for whom?
If you believe the adage about a cat’s having nine lives and trust the science that tells us a giant squid can look forward and see from side-to-side but cannot look upward . . . well, now we’re wading in deep philosophical waters.
As an unexpected bonus, this hoodie has an additional measure of uncertainty on the back – a kind of “happy mistake – a misprint” according to the co-owners whom I met at a local crafts fair. Scary crypto-zoological creatures, like the chupacabra and yeti, peer out at whoever is following me down the street. Even though the Squidfire guys say that their designs really don’t mean anything at all, when I wear “Uncertain Future,” I feel challenged to face my fears, name them, own them, and embrace the uncertainties and surprises that life inevitably brings.
There’s no doubt that we are hardwired for certainty. Neuroscience tells us that our brains crave the pleasure that certainty brings because certainty just feels rewarding and right. In many ways, the more certainty there is in our lives, the happier we are.
Recently, I attended a meeting at Johns Hopkins Hospital where a number of Caroline Center alumnae are employed as nursing assistants, pharmacy technicians, and patient care technicians. One alumna, a patient care technician in the I.C.U. at Hopkins, shared how her Caroline Center education had helped her get started on a career path that she hopes will lead her to nursing school. As we were leaving the meeting, this alumna who had just finished a straight 12-hour shift could not stop smiling. “I’m just so happy,” she said. “With everything. I’m just so happy.” I have to think this kind of happiness comes in part from the little extra certainty that a Caroline Center education provides. Beginning with confidence in yourself and your abilities. The desire to learn and to know more of what will help you be successful in your career and in day-to-day living. And knowing that as an alumna and member of Caroline Center for life that we really do believe in you and we’ve got your back. With your Caroline Center education and certification, the scary yetis and chupacabras, no matter what form they may have taken in your life, and no matter how they might have frightened and plagued you in the past, can be held at bay. As another Caroline Center alumna so aptly put it – “If you ask me what Caroline Center is really about, I’ll tell you. It’s a ‘school of life.’ Nobody wants to tell you that because everybody thinks they’ve got the whole life thing down. Everybody thinks that they know what it takes to live their life; but, inside, they really don’t. What you learn at Caroline Center changes you. It gets you ready to be in the world.”
Now, that’s a future we can all live with. For certain.