Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tomorrow Changes Everything

Tomorrow Changes Everything

If someone offered you some of this and this and this, and maybe a little of that, and assured you that, once you had some of this and this and this, and maybe a little of that, you would be happy for the rest of your life, would you accept the offer?

Most people will probably say, "Yes, of course," but I'm not so sure the majority of people would be truly happy with the deal. You see, I think most people like a little bit of unhappiness in their lives. Lord knows why, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that perfect bliss can be downright boring. A little drama, a little heartache, a little angst, maybe those are the things that actually get us out of bed in the morning. Maybe a little negativity stirs the pot just enough to keep us second-guessing where the heck life is going, and maybe that kind of questioning is what actually keeps us going.

I've often thought about what my life would be like ... if only and if only ... and every time I allow myself to ponder what would make my life perfect, I always run into a road block of one kind or another. For my life to be perfect, I'd have to be completely satisfied with who I am, and more importantly, everyone who was in my life would also have to meet my every expectation. The chances of either of these conditions actually becoming a reality are slim to none.

No, I suspect disappointment is a part of living a full life. For some people, the degree of this disappointment can be pretty severe. For other people, it's minimal, but disappointment is always there. It's a part of the human condition. And I, for one, wouldn't have it any other way.

OK, you're probably thinking that I'm in some kind of funk, maybe from listening to far too many Country and Western songs lately. Not so. To be honest, I've been enjoying more than my share of happy times lately. Still, I refuse to fall for the idea that, "Hooray! Hooray! This is what I've been searching for all my life."

Pfffft ... I measure happiness by hours, days, maybe weeks. I never truly expect the wonder of joy and contentment to last forever. For me, happiness is not some fixed, static, never-ending condition. Happiness always comes with an expiry date. Something always happens that changes what was perfect yesterday, and inevitably the day comes when the cream sours completely and turns into lumps of yuck in my coffee. Never bothers me to any great extent. I just open a fresh carton of cream and make another cup.

You can't freeze time. You can't expect things to always remain the same. For example, you can't expect your son or daughter to remain a perfect, angelic six-year-old forever. Sooner or later, he or she becomes a teenager, and suddenly you are dealing with all kinds of imperfect behaviour. That's just life. No, that's actually the beauty of life — the struggle of growth and change — trying to reach goals and, yes, sometimes missing the mark. No one likes failure, but I realise that failure is the greatest teacher for everything we do.

I know, I know. You're probably thinking, "Why so pessimistic, Kennedy? Look again, try to be more optimistic. See the glass as half-full."

I do my best, I really do. Sadly, I can't help but think that the eternal optimist is eternally stuck. He or she gets to watch that half-full glass with positive expectations but never gets to drink from it. After all, one sip, and suddenly the glass is less than half-full and becomes a disappointment. I refuse to spend my entire life watching that glass, the same way I refuse to watch life pass by the lonely window of some secluded existence. I want to quench my thirst for life, to drink in a full range of experience, both good and bad.

Sure, sometimes I get lost. Sometimes, I feel more pain than I can explain. Sometimes, my heart gets broken. So what? Go ahead, break my heart one more time just for good luck. I'm not going to hide from any experience, never have, never will.

Sometimes, I wish and wish that maybe there might be a way to find this and this and this, and maybe a little of that, and maybe then, I'll enjoy a complete life. Such a dreamy thought, but I always end up giving my head a shake and reminding myself that being "complete" also means reaching an end. I don't ever want to reach the "end" of anything. I love the process of life too much, and so I never doubt that things inevitably change — yes, sometimes from good to bad, but just as importantly, from bad to good. After all, if happiness is transitory, so too are feelings such as sadness, loneliness, or depression equally temporary. Tomorrow changes everything.

Good times are easy; bad times are difficult. The trick is not to lock yourself into the notion that either condition will last forever. Instead of allowing your experiences, good or bad, to define you, instead of allowing the day-to-day ebb and flow of life to lift you up or to set you down, try not to define yourself by what's out there. Learn to appreciate who you are by acknowledging that you and the life you live will probably never be "perfect," by coming to terms with the fact that you will never please all of the people all of the time, and you certainly won't always be pleased with yourself.

When hope and expectation falter, build new hopes and expectations while, at the same time, understanding that those may falter as well. Life may be less about finding answers than it is about looking for answers.



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