Last weekend I planted crocus bulbs. In a past life, I was a passionate, dedicated gardener. At this stage of my life, my horticultural adventures have been confined to clay pots and window boxes. Recently, I was inspired to once again break out my spade! (Since I no longer own an actual yard, the location of this “guerrilla gardening” must remain a secret)!
Planting bulbs takes hope and faith; tucking something so fragile into the ground, believing it will survive a long, cold winter and knowing you won’t see the results until spring. Hope and faith terrified me for a while because I felt like everything I believed in, hoped for, would eventually be taken away, again.
And often this is true; most things do end at some point. That’s just how life works. The trick is to learn to believe in it, love it, and enjoy it, while it’s here. The idea is to not let that fear of the future cripple you and hold you back from the life you have right in front of you, right now.
Instead we tend to worry. We tend to project, and with good reason. We’ve survived some awful stuff. Yet, we often waste our time now on “what ifs,” worrying about things that might happen, but usually don’t. Before you know it we are not only drowning in the things we do have to deal with every day, but with everything that could ever conceivably go wrong in the future as well!
No wonder we are exhausted and overwhelmed!
Don’t get me wrong the world is overwhelming. How can you relax when the world is full of tragedy and sorry and death and you can’t escape it, not on the news, not online. How do you concentrate when jobs are iffy, and healthcare hard to come by, and the car is making a funny noise again, and retirement is nothing more than a pipe dream? How do you get up every day and do the dishes and the laundry and feed your cat and go to work and paste on a smile when everything is so very overwhelming?
So how do we cope? We worry about other things, the things we have no business worrying about, the things that will most likely never happen. We worry about the stupid little things so we don’t have to think about the big things. We just plain make shit up to worry about sometimes, who said what, and who did what, just to distract ourselves, just to avoid looking at our own lives, just to avoid doing the work that might actually change some of it for the better!
Or we keep ourselves busy. We over-extend ourselves. We volunteer for this, we help people with that, and we take on more and more and more simply to avoid being alone with our own thoughts. We fill our days with a hundred little obligations. We commit ourselves over and over again because we are afraid to say no to other people when all the while we are actually saying no to ourselves, to our own needs.
Because even admitting we have needs is scary. It makes us vulnerable. Lord we can’t have that!
So, we get through one more day, and one more week, and one more month, always just getting through, pushing our dreams and our own happiness aside, in order to just get by.
We are fulfilling our obligations out of a sense of duty, a sense of right and wrong. We are doing what is expected of us but are we finding any joy in our own lives? Are we having deep meaningful relationships? Are we living our dreams? Are we doing the things we love to do or only the things we feel we have to do?
Life should be a healthy combination of both our obligations and our passions.
Maybe we aren’t just supposed to be “getting through our days.” Maybe we aren’t supposed to be putting off our own happiness until this or that happens. If I can just get through this semester, everything will be better. If I could just get that job, or pay off that bill, everything would be perfect. If he or she would just notice me, call me, love me.
I’ll think about all that other stuff then, and everything will finally be great, if I can just get through this day, or this week or this month. Everything will be better tomorrow.
What if there is no tomorrow?
We need to stop this, right now, all of us, just stop it! What do we really want, if anything were possible? What do we want our futures to look like? At middle-age, we don’t have that many more years left. Let’s make them intentional! Let’s decide what we want them to look like and MAKE it happen.
Maybe it’s time to loosen up again, let go, trust in something. Maybe it’s time to believe that all the hopes and dreams and good intentions we planted will, in time, bloom into something wonderful. Maybe we need to remember that every winter ends eventually, and that spring always, always comes again.