Waiting to Live a Happy Life
Day #3 of Fear, Trust and Learning to Tell More Hopeful Stories
There was an administrative assistant at the college where I once taught who was extremely efficient and more than a little terrifying to deal with. She did not suffer fools, especially, the department chair, her boss. Neither she, nor he hid their contempt for one other. A trip to use the copier was like tip-toeing through an emotional minefield.
Many teachers avoided her, but we got along great. I found out she had been a tap dancer. When we talked about dance, her face softened. I could see glimpses of the girl she had been, passionate, filled with enthusiasm, even playful. But those were glimpses. Most of the time, she was an angry, frustrated woman who was counting the days until her retirement.
A month before she was due to retire, she went into the hospital for some minor procedure. There were unexpected complications and she died.
She spent her life planning, saving, waiting to be happy. And then her life was over.
Now I am nearing the age she would have been when she died.
Unlike her, I don’t have a retirement.
I did not choose the “safe” jobs and many days, given the economic uncertainties I’m facing, I wonder if perhaps I made a mistake in wanting happiness now rather than later.
I need to get a job, a new way of making a living, a new dream for my life.
But I’m afraid: Afraid that it’s too late for me to start over.
Afraid that the happiness and sense of fulfillment that I am still seeking, I may never find.
The future that I once ran headlong toward with excitement, I now approach with caution. I am more aware of what I have to lose.
What I have to gain feels illusive, and like happiness, always in some distant, hazy future that never quite arrives.
Here is where I would like to offer advice, some bit of wisdom, backed by research or an uplifting quote in the vein of, it’s hard but you can do it. Or it’s easier than you think, and you can do it. Or it’s hard but its worth it: look at me: I did it and you can too.
I love reading those stories because fear makes it hard to trust hope.
We need stories about what is possible, to kindle our our ability to hope.
But we do a terrible disservice to each other by telling only the success stories and carefully curated tales of triumph.
We leave out the hard parts.
We leave out the part where we got lost.
The path we make that becomes the life we live is made by our successes but also by our disappointments, our mistakes, our regrets, all the things we tried, and all the things we didn’t try, by the questions we asked and perhaps even more by the questions we dare ask ourselves.
Instead of attempting to give you wisdom I don’t yet possess, I offer my questions:
How to you do what you don’t know how to do?
How do you find the courage to become someone different?