Monday: Sunny and 80 degrees. “Why are you sitting inside, staring out the window on this beautiful day?”…“Because it’s supposed to rain today and tomorrow. I’m going to the beach on Wednesday when it’s supposed to be sunny.”
Tuesday: Sunny and 80 degrees. “Not a cloud in the sky. The forecast was wrong. Why are you still staring out the window watching another beautiful day pass you by??”…“I guess you’re right. Ok I’ll head outside.” Stands under an umbrella in a rain coat, safely watching the kids play in the waves from way up on the beach.
Wednesday: Thunderstorms. “Why are you staring out the window looking so sad??” …“The forecast said it was going to be sunny. I was planning to go to the beach today.”
Yes, this is silly. Nobody behaves this way, right?? When the sun shows up on what was supposed to be a rainy day, we happily welcome it. We don’t hide inside just in case the clouds come. When a storm comes unexpectedly, we change our plans. We may spend the day inside working on things we put off. We fix and clean things around the house, we make new plans. What we don’t do is sit inside on the sunny days just in case it rains or stand in the water at the beach with the lightening flashing around us because our plans said we were supposed to be in that spot, on that day. We don’t make unbreakable plans that demand 100% certainty that the forecast will be accurate. We adapt, we are flexible, and sometimes we even enjoy playing in the rain.
Are you really that sure you never had that conversation? How about any of these?
“I’m not buying new jeans until I lose 10 more pounds.”
“I’m not putting a bathing suit on until I don’t feel fat anymore.”
“I’m not taking that job offer. This job sucks but it’s secure.”
“I’m not moving to a new town… I don’t know anyone there.”
“I’m not getting on an airplane. Sometimes they crash.”
“I’m not falling in love. I could get hurt.”
We are constantly choosing to watch from the window, waiting for the perfect moment. We are constantly passing on opportunities because they were not in the plans or they harbor some risk. We could fail, lose, embarrass ourselves, break a leg, or suffer a broken heart. We could also win, succeed, learn or experience something amazing. I’ve learned over and over… Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. Either way, I always experience something great, learn something new about myself, or find a different path. Often its all three.
My daughter rides horses. She also never turns down the opportunity to snowboard, surf or go 4-wheeling. I’ve been told so many horror stories by friends and family about how she is going to get hurt on her horse or while doing some other “dangerous” activity. The fact is she did end up breaking her ankle. In P.E. class when another student slid into her foot. She is mentally prepared for being thrown from her horse. The possibility is always there, but it won’t keep her off her horse because it fills her with happiness. Nothing prepared her for the broken ankle in gym class that eventually ended 10+ years of ballet training. What she didn’t say was, “I never should have spent so many years training in ballet because I can’t dance anymore.” She looks back on dancing fondly, sometimes she misses it, but the fact is the accident freed up time away from the studio that allowed her to grow her interests in other areas. No regrets. Just a change of plans. She is still exactly where she wants to be.
I married, had 3 babies…The forecast seemed pretty solid. I did everything the way I was supposed to, so I was sure that short of accident or illness, my future was pretty set. Until it wasn’t. “Forever” never came with my ex. Life tossed some completely un-forecasted weather my way. Today? I’m approaching the 2 year mark with a man that is nothing like anyone predicted I would find happiness with. He’s sexy, tattooed, a little wild and impulsive, incredibly hard working and treats me like a queen. But there is also an age gap that people regularly remind us should be an issue. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. I do know my “forever” is happening right now and I’m happier and healthier with this amazing man than I ever imagined possible. If we listened to everyone else… If we decided what is supposed to happen is the only way to happiness, we both would be missing out on the amazing we are experiencing right now. I learned to make goals and plans, but to not pass up what feels right for what logic, tradition or other people’s opinions consider the safe and reasonable path to happiness. Safe and reasonable failed me too many times. No matter where life takes me, I won’t regret even a moment of what I am experiencing right now. The highs and the challenges and all the lazy contentment in between.
There is a big problem with all that planning and putting things off you are doing. When you are waiting to do things until you lose 10 lbs or meet the “perfect” person, you are planning your life around the ILLUSION of what is supposed to happen rather than accepting that life’s forecasts are about as consistent and reliable as a poker hand. Plan, dream, set goals and work towards the life you believe you want. But always remember that the future doesn’t actually exist. You only have this moment. The next moment is built on this one. Make sure you are always building, not waiting for the perfect moment to set the next brick in the foundation. And also remember that if that foundation cracks, or a storm destroys what you built… Life hands you a new brick the very next day. Keep building. If you wait until the weather is perfect, you may end up with nothing built at all.