So I was raised pretty religious and uncommonly materialistic, a pretty weird success-driven combo I must admit. I had a strict (anal), virtuous upbringing – built upon hard work, loyalty, watching your money, watching your back and fearing your god. Somewhere out there was a belief that some sort of karmic retribution for all your good actions paid off, except in this version of the story it was called heaven. That by being a “good” person who doesn’t drink, do drugs, swear or believe in idle actions…you will get an everlasting and happy life.
So many times I let events, validation and others create my happiness. Having them bail on plans, not accept my friend invite or not accomplishing my goal made me feel less than. For some reason I always had some little project, next step, someday in the back of my head to when I would feel complete. Of course we all love going to Disneyland, but whether or not your life is good shouldn’t be marked only by the highlights. The act of falling in love, the rush of a rollercoaster, the joy of a birthday present, the praise for a promotion, yes they are good, but they are not everything. When your happiness is determined by what is happening around you, funnily enough you aren’t really happy. Sure, in the great moments you are, who isn’t, but you have no idea what to do with the not-so-great ones. For some reason they feel like negative results of something you did wrong. You question your world, your finances, your sanity – if I’m a good person leading a virtuous life, then why is this happening?
Well, as many of us know, it’s not always about being good or bad. The trick is to change your perception so that all in – upbeat day or rotten, you know you are going to survive. The clock keeps on ticking, your heart keeps on beating…so try to have as much joy in watching a leaf tumble in the breeze as winning the lottery. Okay, that example may be a bit extreme, but I hope you realize that I mean good will happen, bad will happen…and so is the circle of life. There is no cosmic curse out to get us, weeeeellllll within reason. I’m not condoning starting a Dexter-esque crusade to tickle your boredom, but swear a little, drink a little, grump a little. It’s gonna be okay.
I had two things happen to people in my life that reminded me how important this lesson is. One had a weekend of tough shifts, tears and boy drama…yet standing out in the sun with me awaiting a taco she had a wave of how good her life was. Though there are down times, it doesn’t take away from the good ones. I too have that from time to time – just an overwhelming rush of gratitude towards a nice day, feeling, movie, hug or laugh. A little look at how lucky I am even though lots is going wrong. I think it’s about realizing that wrong isn’t justice for something you did or didn’t do, but just another day in the field.
I also have an aquaintance going through a breakup. A painful, messy, awful breakup, but his naivety is astounding. He isn’t handling it well, he is frankly, losing his goddamn mind. And I shouldn’t judge because I have too. It is easy to wonder what you did when all is going wrong. But, this poor lad, publicly crucifies himself – lamenting about why she left him, how bad his life is and why is karma out to get him. His status updates tell everybody that his life was perfect for 38 years, he was a rockstar and now he is a failure. That for the first time in his life he is suffering hardship – but he worked diligently, saved money, never tried drugs, doesn’t drink, has never cheated and doesn’t deserve it. What I so badly want to tell him is that trying to be perfect doesn’t always create a perfect life – there is no such thing! We all deserve dirty in doses. We all need a little bad to remind us of the good. We all need some struggle to make us stronger and better. We all need to appreciate life in all its terrible glory to understand that it isn’t the absence of bad that makes a life good, it’s the survival of it.
The Ginga Ninja