I have one of those over-analyser brains, so I tend to dream a lot.
This time I don’t mean the night-time adventures, even if they are getting increasingly more bizarre. Imagine: last night I got dizzy spinning inside a massive white soup plate with some dream-friends. Besides people, the plate was half-filled with spaghetti dripping with tomato sauce. We played with the spaghetti, threw it at each other and splashed the sauce on the plate’s edge where the force of the spin kept painting intricate patterns of tomato on white ceramic. Analyse that.
I won’t, because today I wonder about the dreams I’ve generated during my years of daylight. The ideas, hopes and expectations of how I should be or how my life should turn out. Being this or that kind of woman, this or that kind of colleague or professional. Having this or that kind of life situation with this much money and that much romance.
I’ll spoil the ending for you – it’s a miserable hoax and we shouldn’t do that. Unless we want to be miserable, that is.
When the way I thought of myself did not seem ideal enough, my mind helpfully filled the gaps with generous imaginings of future versions of Helen – each more beautiful, more successful, more abundant and each, of course, ridiculously happy.
(For who would dream of karmic lessons, growing pains, feelings of confusion and anxiety about the state of the world and random stupid sh*t that happens to the best of us?)
I’m really good at driving speedboats, but I kept myself off the wheel for two years, having conjured up an idea that being the skipper of a boat wasn’t lady-like and I wanted to be more feminine. It followed another idea that if I was even more feminine than I was now, I’d have more romance in my life and that would make me happier.
Well I did have some romance, but it didn’t make me happier. No surprise there. Because to feel happy, I had to finally take that wheel and push down for full speed on clear blue waters. It felt as if I was coming home to a long-lost-love. I had tears in my eyes.
How could I ever have thought that I had to be less than I was?
Just to feel a little more of what I imagined I wasn’t?
The weight of my ideas and expectations dragged me down, away from the moment, away from joy, away from having my full presence and energy available right here and now.
Sometimes I spent so much time defining myself that I hardly had time to live up to all those definitions. And therein I found my trap:
If I carry an expectation of myself without concrete proof that any action will definitely help me fulfil this expectation, I freeze. I stop doing stuff.
I freeze, because suddenly I am uncertain. I know where I want to be, but I want to be certain that I will get there, but I can’t be certain, because I am not certain right now and my uncertainty can generate no certainty and neither can life.
Because life gives no guarantees and the future does not exist anywhere except in our minds and calendars.
The desire to control our future to escape the present discomfort is a sure way to live in perpetual half-life misery. Because it always takes away the energy we have to act and do something for ourselves right now. But right now is the only time when we can act and influence anything. If we had the energy and motivation to do so.
The present moment, the right-now is riddled with consequences of all past actions and always holds the potential for various new actions and choices. None of which can have certain outcomes.
A few minutes ago, I decided to sit down in this chair, turn on that lamp and write a bunch of words on a keyboard. I have no idea what fruits this action will bring, if any. Even if I had any reasonable expectation of some result of my choice to write, I can not know if it will actually happen.
I can never know for sure. No-one can.
Living with this unknown feels kind of itchy. Yet it’s something I’ve decided to accept for myself. I can’t create anything in the future, as I will never live in any future. I can live right now and my experience of it will always be subtly shaped by all the past decisions of every single human being.
Yes, things would be easier if my life was only affected by my choices, right? But our lives are continuously built together with others. We build our environment, the world and all our lives with each choice we make.
That’s why there are no guarantees. Because we can’t control everyone else.
(Some, for limited time, with sufficient force, perhaps. But not all.)
With that in mind, it would be quite hard for me to save the world. But I can still choose to save myself by dropping all those ideas I have about how I should be or who I should become.
Right now is the only time and place where I exist and ever will exist. The only time I have to make the best possible choices I can.
(Feeling a bit silly it took me so long to finally get it.)
Commitment to my-life-right-now.
Yes, also an idea, something my mind came up with. But I’ll take it.
The weight of that one makes me feel grounded. The soles of my feet rest on the floor. My shoulders relax and my spine straightens. The world becomes a little more real, more vibrant and I feel quite ready for tomorrow, no matter what it brings.
I still hope it will be good, I really do.