“Oh, I couldn’t do that. I’d have to be a completely different size before I can take such a nice vacation,” a friend said when a girls’ Caribbean vacation was suggested.
“I am thirty-five years old, and I thought my life was going to have started by now,” lamented a colleague who meant “married and parenting” by her use of the word started.
And as they uttered these words, the people around them nodded, completely supporting these ideas that you have to be a certain size to go to the beach, that you have to marry young and be a parent for your life to have worth and meaning.
Seem familiar? Probably so.
Too many of us do it. Choose an arbitrary target like weight or graduation or marriage status as the crucible that will finally depict our arrival and right to happiness.
“If only, I could lose twenty pounds, then I would be happy and could…”
Fill in the blank here with all sorts of things including scuba dive, sing karaoke, take a cruise, ask him or her out on a date, wear shorts or a sleeveless shirt, move to Denver, go to my high school reunion, try out for a play, interview for that job, go to the doctor, or any of a number activities that so many of us readily avoid because we believe that our body has to be different in order to do them.
“If only, I were married, then…”
And, again, fill in the blank here with all sorts of things like I could buy a house or a car, plan for retirement, have nice jewelry, go to that gourmet restaurant, spend a night at the Ritz-Carlton, become a parent, go to Tuscany, buy a Dyson vacuum cleaner, get life insurance, or start a business.
On the surface, these might seem like completely reasonable conclusions. In fact, it might even seem good to have these types of expectations for oneself.
Except that pinning so much of one’s worth on those expectations isn’t really motivating. It creates outsized pressure, and pressure, ironically, isn’t inspiring. Conditions shut us down. They create walls that are insurmountable unless we brace ourselves on the only thing we have decided breaks them down. We lose sight of the fact that we can break down walls with our very actions; we buy into rules that disallow us.
Linking our happiness and our ability to full experience life to whether we’ve reached benchmarks of our or society’s choosing means we both delay happiness and the thrill of experiencing life.
How are you avoiding life because you are waiting for some “goal” to be achieved? What have you denied yourself on the grounds that you don’t deserve it until x or y or z happens? Are you finally willing to step away from those rules and embrace life?
Because the truth is that magic doesn’t have to wait until we are married or weightless or degreed to happen. Magic happens when we let it, when we invite it to happen, when our heart is open to it, when we let the conditions go. We are meant to enjoy the daily-ness of our existence, to root ourselves in this eternal truth. It is not the accolades or ceremonies that define our life and give it all of its value. The journey itself is the magic of our existence. The journey is the goal.
Have you been living with conditions? Next Monday’s post will be all about examining our conditions and, more importantly, thinking through how to push past them. Have you given yourself rules? What are they? Why do those rules/expectations seem important? What questions do you have about moving past the conditions? Let’s partner together in getting past our conditions!