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By: Jamie Collins

“Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.”

– Bryce Courtenay

Several weeks ago, my dad was helping a friend move furniture on the South side of Indianapolis. The house was located in a heavily wooded area. It was a cold and blustery day; one where the wind blows viciously, bitterly whipping across your face, taking your breath away, and rendering you virtually unable to speak.

The two had completed their project. My dad was just about to hop back into his truck to depart, when suddenly out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a small, white puppy attempting to walk across a nearby field. I say “attempting” because this poor, little puppy had been outside in inclement weather conditions for so long (several weeks and perhaps even several months) that it could only manage to take one or two steps, before dropping down toward the ground and pausing to tremble violently, in a near-seizure like state, in response to the bitter cold before rising to take another step.

The moment my dad saw this puppy, he knew it could not possibly survive another night in the cold. He went and pulled every makeshift item of food from his vehicle, granola bars and a few fruit roll ups, in an effort to lure her closer. It was readily apparent the puppy was somewhat skeptical of tall, two-legged humans, after being left in the woods to forge alone. About 20 minutes passed, and he was finally able to lure her close enough to scoop her up. As soon as she was in his arms, she clung to him like the savior he was, attempting to soak up every last bit of warmth and body heat she could from his chest. The two then drove home in his pick-up truck like they had known each other all along. It was a dog he never intended to have, from a place he never expected to find one, on a day that seemed like any other.

I arrived home after a full day of fun in the legal trenches to find this cute, little puppy wandering across the marble tiles of my kitchen floor. After listening to my dad share her story, I came to the realization that people often find themselves in much the same predicament as this little, white puppy.

At one point or another, we each find ourselves either wondering or wandering. We sometimes feel lost. We aren’t sure where to go next. We may have no idea where we’re headed (in our personal lives, careers or generally speaking), much less how we’ll manage to get there.

Before venturing into the legal field, I held a variety of jobs. I waited tables at restaurants, worked for a finance company, a title company, and at a staffing agency, where I matched people with open positions. I certainly made decent money at some of these jobs, especially waitressing, but found myself wondering what I could do next. More importantly, wondering what I “could be.”

There simply had to be more to life than hot wings, ledger cards, and the mind numbing plug-and-chug that came standard with preparing boring title documents. I longed for something more. What I wanted was a career! It was at that point that I began wandering – into medical offices and law firms – to find something more. I didn’t know where I would end up, but I made a decision to change my life, and took one major step forward…without looking back. Fortunately, a firm took a chance on me, and 15 years later, I find myself immersed in a career I love. Did you hear that? A career: that was precisely what I went in search of. I wondered, wandered, and found my way here.

Many of you did the same thing. Countless others will.

By taking a step.

Often a special person steps into the midst of our path once we make these important, life-shaping types of decisions, and gives us something we are in need of, inspires us, and helps direct us onto a better path; what becomes our “intended” path. We end up at a place it seems we were meant to be, doing what we are meant to do, and surrounded by people it feels we are meant to know.

We arrive there by making a decision, and taking a major step forward…without looking back.

These catalysts and conduits awaken us, subtly or actively implore us to ponder our options and pursue endeavors we might otherwise never have pondered or pursued. They inspire us to become more than we think we can be. They compel us to want more, think more, and do more – to become better, take a chance on ourselves, and throw our own self-doubt back behind us, as we take one major step forward.

I’ll never forget one day when I was walking into the building after lunch. An accountant I knew well (from years of parking lot chats en route to the building), stopped to introduce me to his wife, as we all made our way in. He turned toward his wife and said, “This is Jamie. She works in the building at the law firm upstairs, and is a graduate of Marian University.”

Here’s the problem —  I wasn’t a graduate of Marian University. He had remembered from our previous chats, spanning a a number of years, that I was a student working toward my bachelor’s degree in Business. Naturally, several years later, it would be safe for one to assume I had tackled that extended degree down to the pavement. Rather, I had fallen so far off of the college track, I could only vaguely remember it being an ambition. After exchanging general pleasantries, and replying, “I’m not done yet,” I took the elevator up to the 5th floor, back to my office.

His question ate away at me for the rest of the day. I was so close to finishing college – at that point, only 13 classes away. Why had I stopped taking classes? When did I stop caring if I finished? Was this what I wanted to be – a quitter? The questions chiseled away at my soul.

His simple inquiry inspired me to re-enroll in college the next day. The funny thing is, he has absolutely no idea how deeply his question impacted me. To him it was a general exchange, but for me, one seemingly simple question had propelled me into action. While I still have not managed to finish my bachelor’s degree (I now find myself 10 classes away), the accountant gets full credit for becoming the catalyst that put my college ambitions back onto my personal dashboard.

I’m sure you can relate to this feeling on some level. At some point, you have either been a wonderer (wondering what will come next or what you could do with your career, personal life or life, in general) or a wanderer (wandering to try to figure it out). Much like that little, white puppy, we find ourselves searching for something better, trying to take that next step, hoping for something better, and taking one step, to see where we go from here.

Sometimes, we forget what path we were walking down in the first place, and need a reminder. Other times, we need someone to show us a new path we never even considered. In those moments, we acknowledge what we could be, and push against our own ambitions and potential, in order to bring forth the best we have to offer to whatever it is we choose to avail ourselves to.  When you find yourself wondering or wandering…take one more step.

While it initially seemed that my dad had found “Layla” the fearless, TPS wonder-dog, I now feel that perhaps, she found him. And in doing so, she found our entire family. She entered our lives and added more life and love, changing them for the better. When I now see that little, white dog happily trotting alongside Gavin, I am grateful they found one another; thankful she “found” us. As much as we may have helped to put her life onto a better path, she too, has enriched our lives.

The same is true for those who help us on our own journeys. These conduits and catalysts often gain just as much from their interactions with us. They observe, partake in and celebrate our successes, as they watch us knock down our biggest endeavors like dominos in the path of life. They get us to think, feel, believe…and take a step forward.

When you find yourself wondering or wandering, not sure where to go next in life: Never be afraid to take another step, just one more. You never know where it might lead you or to whom, and in that, you just might end up discovering the path you were meant to walk, to become the person you are meant to be.

One more step…without looking back. To push against your own ambitions and potential, in order to bring forth the best you have to offer to whatever it is you choose to avail yourself to.

One more step.

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Pictured below is the newly-found, fearless, TPS wonder-dog “Layla” the great.
p.s. If anyone asks – this is totally “Gavin’s dog”… and I never mentioned a thing about this whole “TPS dog” thing.

TPS dog? What TPS dog? I have no idea what you’re talking about…

In honor of today’s post, go ahead and take one major step, without looking back…right on out those law firm doors, TPSers!!! Have a great weekend! Be sure to wander back on Monday.