second chances

In the May issue of Flare magazine, there’s a great article by Hannah Sung – former MuchMusic VJ – entitled Second Chances.   She writes about our fascination with stories of people who get a second chance in life.   While waiting for a second chance (that may never come) is one way to live one’s life, another option could be to give one’s “First Chance” the best shot.   I thoroughly enjoyed Hannah’s article…hope it inspires you too:

Second Chances

Don’t wait a Second longer to SEIZE yours

By Hannah Sung

Before Ted Williams became famous, he was an anonymous homeless man with a cardboard sign, panhandling by the side of the rod in Columbus, Ohio.  By the time a reporter found him, Williams had battled a crack addiction and run out of luck.  As a former radio announcer, however, Williams still had his golden voice, and when he opened his mouth the results were startling.  It’s why more than twelve million people flocked to see the video of him, uploaded to YouTube in January.

Within 48 hours of posting that video, Williams found himself on the set of the Today show, practically vibrating as he sat with hosts Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira.  “This is a dream come true I’m telling you, honestly,” Williams said, eagerly shaking their hands.  “It’s that second chance,” Vieira concurred kindly.

True second chances in life are rare, which explains why we were all enraptured by this story of a perfect do over.  Through this incredible second chance, Williams began fielding immediate offers for jobs and places to live.

Closer to home, my friend Rupinder Gill has just orchestrated the largest life turnaround of anyone I know, making her own second chance.  Growing up in what she called “a Bombay rooming house in the middle of suburban Canada,” she and her sisters weren’t allowed childhood experiences like tap lessons and sleepovers.

Just before she turned 30, Rupinder sat on the dock at a friend’s cottage while everyone else took a dip in the cool lake.  She couldn’t go in because she had never learned to swim.  She realized, “I had spent my whole life sitting on the pool deck, standing in the shallow end or simply avoiding the situation altogether.”

She took matters into her own hands and enrolled in swimming lessons.  Tap lessons too.  Then came a bona fide sleepover.  In other words, she fashioned her own second chance at youth, writing a book in the process, a memoir on the experience called On the Outside Looking Indian: How My Second Childhood Changed My Life.

“I’ve adopted a more childlike mindset,” Rupinder recently confided to me.”  Adults are so defeatist.  We get comfortable and don’t bother with second chances,” she said.  “But most of the time, they’re actually first chances because they’re things we’ve never done and wish we had.”

First chances – I’d never heard of such a thing, but it completely makes sense.

When I was 20, I visited New York City with a girlfriend.  We were promptly conned by a junkie out of all our cash.  My friend went home traumatized.  I went home vowing to move to New York as soon as I could.

Then I landed a super-cool job at MuchMusic in Toronto and it lasted throughout my 20s.  By the time I left the job, at 29, I was attached to the love of my life.  He had firm roots in Toronto.  It seemed like New York was no longer possible…until, all of a sudden, it was.

Buoyed by several years of travelling together, I convinced my husband that moving to New York could be our latest adventure.  I applied to a school in Manhattan to study the art of writing fiction.  And now here we are.

Being in my 30s, married and back in school wasn’t how I’d originally envisioned my New York experience, but that’s precisely what makes it really exciting – it’s much more unpredictable than fantasy.

Rupinder was right.  Most of us don’t need second chances when we haven’t yet seized our first.

As for Williams, he’s started a foundation for people who, like him, need a hand up rather than a handout.  He has called it, aptly, the Ted Williams Second Chance Foundation.  Most of us, if we’re lucky, will never hit rock bottom and need that kind of dramatic second chance.  First chances, however, are something we can make up and take on for ourselves.

3 Responses to “second chances”
  1. Kamakshi says:

    beautiful post…enjoyed it thoroughly, and now i will look at taking both my first and second chances seriously!

    • Bita says:

      Glad to hear it, Kamakshi. I really enjoyed Hannah’s article too. She provides a great perspective.

  2. Wanda Whisman says:

    Second chances happen when you least expect them.

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