Excuse me, but, uh, this is not the life I ordered.
Not even close. Not by a long shot.
As a kid, there was the vision of the Astronaut Life. The Broadway Mega-Star Life (with a side order of Rock Star, although I'm not sure which was the real expectation and which the fall back). There was a brief (though infinitely more serious) flirtation with Rabbi, Writer, World-Shaper and Doctor (of philosophy, not of medicine). Teacher was up there, too.
And those were just the professions. There was also the Wife-and-Mommy Life (in that order; I'm kinda old school that way). That one wove its way in and under and through all the rest-- International Jet Setter; Nobel Peace Prize winner; Solver-of-All-Problems-and-Healer-of-All-Hurts.
And through it all, in every dream and desire and expectation-- Happy. Loved and loving. Sitting comfortably in my own skin, sure and confident.
Somewhere along the way, my life took a left turn. And then a right. And then a few squiggly hairpin turns that curved in on themselves until they teetered on the edge of the scary mountain pass that had no guardrails or pavement. And then the road disappeared altogether, into the swampy underbrush (and yes, I do realize I'm mixing metaphors here, or at least describing a n impossible geography that can exist only in my head; I'm okay with that).
My life is infinitely messier than my expectations.
I find that the disconnect between my expectations and the reality that is my life feels somewhat akin to that steady, thrumming drone that gets just under your skin, that makes me buzz and my thoughts crackle. It is the dissonance that I feel, that I almost hear. It makes me crazy, this peripheral insistence of disquiet.
For decades, I would view my life out of the corner of my eye, willing it to fit the mold of my expectation. Willing, scheming, manipulating-- some weird and twisted Machiavellian plot, I was determined to make the square peg of my reality fit into the round hole of my expectation. Or something like that: some distorted and disproportionate plan to smooth over the cracks that spider-webbed across my universe of one.
Have I mentioned my flair for the dramatic?
God, but I'm exhausted.
I am tired to the bone, and I have missed so much of my life! I have been focused on some Siren call, urging me ever onward to fix and manage the life I have-- the one I wake up with every morning, that is lumpy and tangled and dull and lonely and fine, really fine, and every once in a while, filled with aching beauty and breathtaking wonder. And yet, I will pass that one over in a heartbeat, and trample it in my eagerness to make it happen: the right life, the chosen life, the better life.
You know, the life that would make me happy.
If only you would --
If only I could --
If only everything would just --.
I'd be happy then. Wouldn't I?
And the lesson learned, again and again (or, not learned exactly, so that I could move on to different things, but at least a lesson experienced, again, and yet again): it never works, this attempt to turn fantasy into reality. All effort to the contrary (and oh! I expend a monstrous amount of effort in this impotent pursuit!), I just get more empty, starving on a heaping serving of subtraction stew. The more I take, the more I pound, the more I want, the greater the disconnect grows.
Here's the strangest thing of all, though: there is grace, even for me, even in this. There is hope. I have felt it, sipped at its intoxicating sweetness and relished its exquisite simplicity. Acceptance. That's the answer. Really: just show up and let it be. Life will happen, in all its glory. And I will be there, not out of the corner of my eye, not as some third rate puppet master , but as me, present and alive.
What an awesome and simple and excruciatingly difficult thing that is!
The cynic in me wants to sneer-- that's not simple, that's naive and dangerous. Why, anything might happen!
Well, yes, anything might happen, and often does.
And so I come full circle, and am reminded, as I so often am: this is the lesson. Let go. Let be. Let life happen, be filled with wonder and boredom and sadness and laughter and disappointment and hope. There are a thousand things and ten thousand more that can happen, that can fill you -- but you will be filled. Filled and full, and your life, at last, will be enough.