On Expectations and Actualities
People are fond of saying, “If you had told me ten years ago, that I’d be here now doing this I never would have believed you.”
Somewhere in the world at this exact moment is a guy who cannot believe he’s herding emu and loving it. Somewhere not far from there is another guy who can’t get over how much he hates the life he worked so hard to get.
Those guys are probably brothers and they only ever speak at Thanksgiving and it’s always so terribly awkward. The second brother thinks the first is lying about how happy he is. Of course, he does. Why would anyone be happy herding emu? Naturally, he assumes that his brother is lying, he lies about his own happiness.
Then again, what if those two guys are the same guy, equal portions of the same brain? Depending on the year or the news or the chemical, one gets more screen time than the other. He is a dreamer when he can afford to dream. When budgets get tight, the economist is especially proud of his worry. He scolds that idiotic part of himself that thought it a great idea to cash out his life insurance to fund the documentary project, Standing Tall for Little People: Inside Fisher Price’s Gross Mistreatment of the World’s Short.
Where you thought you’d be is the inverse of the question asked of children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Nobody said junkie. Nobody said broke or in prison or divorced or widowed or schizophrenic or hopeless or lost or dying.
I wouldn’t have believed you, if you told me:
that I’d be unemployed
that I wouldn’t be in vocational ministry
that certain old friends wouldn’t take my calls
that I’d be a full-time caregiver
and I’d have laughed in your face if you said:
that I’d enjoy talking to my mom for hours on the phone
that I’d make new friends whose experiences were like my own
that I’d ride my bike across America
that my new ideas would be monumentally more amazing than my old ones
Of course, these things wouldn’t have been as likely if not for the disappointments found in the first list.
Most of us, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get it right the first time. From romance to career to philosophy to style, we hold ourselves to this unrelenting standard: perfection. Rather than thinking of these endeavors as failed attempts, we’d do better to consider them like drafts. No need for a mulligan or “re-do”, just rewrite.
It’s all part of the process.