It’s tempting to be in fantasy about someday. That fuzzy, happy-ever-after when you get the job, the romantic partner, the family. The bank account is full of dough, the house is just right, you are slim and trim + know how to pick perfect avocados.
You know, when things finally turn out.
Even though my Disney fantasies of partnership and marriage have pretty well broken down, I still have some version of this someday fantasy in me. When I finally feel loved and seen, when I feel safe, when I can stand on solid ground and this ambient anxiety will go away, when my person, my true love arrives.
I still harbor the tiniest bit of hope for that.
I do a little thought experiment sometimes and ask myself, “If you knew you were going to die in five years, then what?” Suddenly everything comes into focus – the life I actually have, the house I live in, my gorgeous kids, the relationships and friendships and love around me – THIS is how it turned out. This is that someday. The someday I fantasized about decades ago!
This is it.
It’s not perfect.
There are highs and lows.
But THIS is how it is.
Lao Tzu says it so beautifully below. (He wrote this poem in the 6th century. Apparently, we haven’t changed much!)
Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.
This is it.
No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.
At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.
There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.
Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.
Abide at the center of your being.
— Lao Tzu
This is how it turned out: Me, typing in my friend’s living room in Oakland, the sun shining outside, heading to San Francisco for a photo session later. My kids, at their dad’s house, safe, going for a swim at the rec center this afternoon.
If your this-is-how-it-turned-out reality today feels too harsh, here’s another buddhist saying that gets right to the point: Right now, it’s like this.
This one is great to practice with because it is an invitation back into the present moment. It honors the impermanence of things (our ever-changing reality) and also that this too shall pass (the good and the bad).
How do we have our desire for things to be better/different and also honor what is?
That’s the million dollar question. And it takes practice! Lao Tzu instructs us to abide at the center of our being, which is to say, speak and act in alignment with your true self, your heart, your inner wisdom… this is the path that will get you where you need to go.