My whole life I’ve wanted to be somewhere other than here. When I was in grade school, I wanted to be junior high. When I was in junior high, I wanted to be in high school (but hey, who didn’t? What an icky time).
Then I wanted to be in college. Then I wanted to be out of college. When I was single, I wanted to be married. Etc. etc. etc. - you get the picture. I was never in the present. Or at least not long enough to fully realize the value of that moment. I never soaked up the beauty and joy and learning of each phase and its inherent moments.
I arrived on the doorstep of adulthood unprepared and proceeded to be pretty unhappy. Everything felt like a struggle because I hadn’t built up the strength in those missed moments.
Things changed when I became a mom. Keeping a human alive and witnessing the miracle of how fast a child grows made me stop and take note. I existed from feeding to feeding, hour by hour. I became very aware of each day, week, month and year. I had found the beauty in the present.
We need to be content to be right where we are right now, and see the gifts and precious people in our path. There are gifts and people we will never know if we wish to be somewhere else.
Life is really all about judgment. How we judge any given situation is based on subconscious and conscious criteria, and we often have no idea from where it came. We do it all the time. We label things as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, moral or immoral.
We all go through really complicated stuff in this life. I originally typed “hard stuff” here, but, realizing that is a judgment, changed to it “complicated”…less judgmental, perhaps?
Maybe. Maybe not. As I talk with people and build relationships with them, even if only for a brief time, what stands out is attitude.
I love being around folks who look for the silver lining, opportunity or adventure in the catastrophe. The “what is this teaching me? How is this serving me? How is this growing me?” attitude.
I find it inspirational. Not steeped in judgment juice, but soaking in opportuni-tea. Sorry. That was lame. See? I just did it again. We all do.
I prefer to be inspirational. Do you?
I was reading one of my favorite bloggers, Jennifer Pastiloff, this morning. She talked about parallel lives and how so many of us get caught in that place of regret: “ If I had only (fill in the blank), what would be different now?”
She met a man on her journeys who said, “Don’t let them steal your happy.”
As I marinate on the many parallel lives I could have lived - pursuing a theatre career, marrying someone else, not marrying at all, staying in college, going somewhere else for school, and so on ad infinitum - not one of them leads even remotely to where I am now. At least I don’t think so. In spite of the losses and tragedy I’ve experienced, I would not change a thing.
How is that possible? Because I am more alive than I have ever been before. In the midst of things and people trying to “steal your happy,” staying alive and happy takes grit, determination, emotional muscle, and a determination to remain in the present moment.
Grit and determination come from that warrior mentality of sheer will to keep moving.
Emotional muscle and the ability to remain in the present come from having the courage to examine your fears, confront them at their source and then, ultimately, to accept them as gifts. Turning a fear into a gift neutralizes its perceived negative impact, and allows us to knit ourselves back together as a whole person. Then we are beautiful, with uniqueness that make us interesting and talents that make us passionate and productive. Accepting a fear as a gift is like making a friend out of someone you falsely judged at first glance. The lesson learned is amazing and the connection is sacred.
So, who is trying to steal your happy?
Why is there so much discomfort around the emotion of grief? It is a normal part of our human experience, and all through our lives we experience loss in numerous ways, not just physical death.
Every transition in life is a sort of loss. I mean… think about it. Marriage is the loss of singlehood. Unemployment is the loss of work. Relocating is the loss of friends-in-place. Even positive growth is a loss of an old familiar place we knew.
Yet we hesitate to call it grieving when we face the loss. Oh… and grieving is so sad, right? But only if we add that judgement to the emotion. The truth is: grief just IS. That’s all.
Grief is also the doorway to a new beginning, offering opportunities to stretch beyond our current and past circumstances. Granted, we most often don’t choose the circumstance, and getting here reminds us that we are not in control. Of anything, it seems. But we are wired to handle it if we can understand it.
Grief is entirely personal and intimate, directly flavored by the unique person experiencing it. Some of us want to “GET THROUGH IT” by hitting all the stages of Kubler-Ross as quickly as possible, because until we get “through it”, we feel very uncomfortable and out of control.
But on the way there, be gentle and kind to yourself as you journey through the emotion of it. Your gift to yourself is to stay fully present in each moment. Take the time to enjoy the good parts.
There are many, and they are essential to the person you will be tomorrow.