I’ve loved apples since childhood but turned the corner into apple-wildness during my years as a community college teacher. Several Saturdays each fall, I’d drive upstate from Philadelphia to Beltzville, where I’d hike around the state park with the dogs then park myself at a picnic table overlooking the lake and grade essays. Then I’d find my way to the nearby orchard and load the car with freshly picked apples, returning to Philly with applesauce on my mind.
For weeks, the inviting aroma of cooking apples wafted through our house. The kids just shook their heads at dad’s delirious commitment to apples, but they loved the deserts. On those fall hikes, my thoughts steered toward an imagined future in a rural setting, and schemes sprang to mind. Ultimately, those days led Kathleen and me to our home in Maine, so I see them as forming a turning point that matters in my life.
So often when we use the term “unintended consequences” we mean negative ones, but many of them are very positive. I value the unintended life-planning that occurred during my apple day hikes on leafy paths.
Tell me what good unintended consequences came about in your life. Don’t be shy—share a story here. I bet that it’s happened more than once to you, as it has to me.
In Open Admissions, I write about how playing rugby led to music performance in my life, and about how understanding this kind of influence can help students recognize possibilities that lie around them, sometimes hiding in plain sight. Learning to look for such previous and still possible influences helped my nontraditional students grasp a psychological concept (from Albert Bandura’s work: reciprocal determinism), but it also helped them gain a sense that they can impact their life by making changes to environment, behavior, and cognitions (beliefs and values).
At Thanksgiving, I’m grateful to the teachers and students with whom I worked with and from whom I learned.
I also appreciate everything I’ve learned from the people I’ve met since our adventures brought us to Maine, especially folks involved with recovery and prison issues.
Pause this Thanksgiving to consider which individuals and groups have made you change you in valuable ways.