That happens sometimes. People meet you when you’re at the very bottom of your life and some assume you’re still there. Or that you spent thirty-three years of your life crying in the fetal position before beginning to write about it and you are only just now taking the fledgling steps toward being an adult.
Well, there is some truth in that last statement. I think I only became a real adult in the past few years, through my divorce and eventual re-singlement. I like being in my life. Sometimes I have growing pains — for example, when I see where I want to be so clearly and then I see where I am and they’re two very different places.
Does that ever happen to you? You’re looking the map of your life and you see the dot says, “You are here.” And you’re studying this map, poring over it, planning your trip, planning your ultimate destination (down to the shoes you will be wearing in the picture in your mind) and you so clearly know where you want to be, where exactly you’d like to see your dot rest on that map and you just aren’t there yet.
There’s a big gaping valley between You Are Here and You Want To Be Over There. And if I look backward on the map of my life to where I’ve been, I see that almost all my time has been spent inside that valley between where I am and where I am going. Because if we’re being quite honest, it takes a long while to get from Here to There, and by the time you finally arrive at your new destination you have changed along the way. By the time you get to that push pin, the one you assumed would finally complete you and make you live happily ever after, you’re… different. You’ve changed. And now this “here” looks an awfully lot like a place you’re just hanging out at while your REAL happily ever after has just been pushed a little further down the map, way Over There …
Maybe the trick is becoming comfortable in that valley in between? Maybe the real happiness in life is something you take with you across the whole map, carrying it inside you (or if you have a lot of happiness, maybe you have a backpack, too) and you move from plot point to plot point in your life with your soul intact, not always so desperate to get to the push-pin on the map that finally says, “You are Happy Here. Right here. Finally.” Because what if you never make it to that exact push pin? You’d spend your whole life waiting to be happy, waiting until…. until what?
I used to think happiness was a place, a destination, a state I would arrive at after I checked off the many to-do lists of my life: Go to school, graduate, get a nice car, find a husband, have a good job, get married!!!, find a nice house, have children… then what? I don’t know what the next milestones were to be on my list, since I only made it to the married part.
After that path came to an abrupt end, I had to change. I didn’t want to change at first, I wanted to hold onto my old map and sit in a corner and eat my hair. But after a while it became clear that my life had taken a turn on the map and I better get with it. I was going to end up somewhere, and I could pick: Better or Bitter. I had to re-define happiness and see it less as a destination and more as a day-to-day job. It’s not easy and sometimes I forget and complain and get grouchy and wonder why I am so tired, begin focusing on all the things that just aren’t right yet, why why why….
But that’s poison, and anyway it doesn’t help. You keep your feet on your life map and keep walking firmly in the direction of the next map point but in the meantime, inside the valley between here and there, you start to maybe wonder if we don’t always live in the valley. Maybe we spend our whole entire lives between “here” and “there.” And if that is the case, I better learn to be happy along the way.
Calvin:Isn't it strange that evolution would give us a sense of humor? When you think about it, it's weird that we have a physiological response to absurdity. We laugh at nonsense. We like it. We think it's funny. Don't you think it's odd that we appreciate absurdity? Why would we develop that way? How does it benefit us?
Hobbes:I suppose if we couldn't laugh at the things that don't make sense, we couldn't react to a lot of life.