You know where fairy tales come from? Hopes and dreams, that's where. Desires. Wishes for happily ever afters and handsome princes and long-haired princesses in towers, and eternal bliss being just a horse-ride-into-the-horizon away. All in the face of reality. In the face of how incredibly tough life can be at times. We do that. We dream for something better. Long for it.
And that's why they're called fairy tales. Because they aren't reality . . . unless we make them reality. By doing the work. And being flexible. And being willing to be content.
Ah, there's the catch: being willing to be content with what we've got. With what we can get. Finding in what we already have, the prince/princess/castle/magical powers/blonde locks/sword of Gryffindor, and being happy with it.
When I was a kid I had serious imaginings of what my life was going to be like once I slipped the family ties and headed out on my own. Imaginings I counted on. I haven't met a lot of people who felt like they had an ideal childhood; there's always one thing or another getting in and mucking things up. And mine was no different: parents who divorced, stressed-out siblings and self, a serious bout of anorexia that could have taken me out, resulting health issues, feelings of loneliness--you most likely know the drill. Whether it's health or finances, family or friends, something or someone somewhere is going to disappoint us in life. The trick is not to avoid those things--we can't--but to deal with them in such a way that we still have joy and enjoyment in life. That we still see all the lovelies that are there. And that life is deeper for the experience.
I will tell you that my complete dependance on what I thought life was going to be like nearly sank me. I had decided what type of wife I would be, what type of mother, what type of husband and kids I would have, and what I would contribute to the world--but none of them happened. At least not how I planned.
My visions of the Martha Stewart/Donna Reed-esque home I would create? BWA hahahaha! I mean, it ain't a pigsty, all right? But if dinner is on the table by 5:00 everyone knows the aliens have landed and something is inhabiting my body. If the clean laundry pile has magically moved from its permanent spot next to my jewelry armoir (which is filled with thread, scarves, iPod chargers and earbuds, gloves, and a bazillion earrings left over from the 1980's) into neatly folded piles for my children to retrieve and put away (those who aren't old enough to do their own laundry, thank you very much), people run outside, filled with embarrassment at having walked into the neighbor's house.
And motherhood? This is not what I planned on looking like to my kids:
But I do. We'll just leave it at that.
And finally, there's marriage. Did you know that two perfectly good, normal, kind people can "Expectation" each other to death? They can. It's so easy to disappoint one another in marriage: "This isn't what I thought you'd be like! You have to change!" Yep. And that's death. Can't go there. Run away from that sentiment, RUUUUUNN FOREST!
So, after twenty-blinkin'-five years of marriage, and work, and kids, and life changes, and moving, and job losses, and disappointments, and joys, and laughing our guts out, and anger, and bad parenting, and good parenting, and brilliant moments, and awful moments, and sadness, and happiness, and general "Wha?"when nothing turned out like I imagined--what have I learned?
Look at what you have, not at what you don't have. Change what you can. Look for the good in what you can't. Expect the best, even when you don't get what you thought was the best. In that case, find out what the best is in that situation. And be. Happy. Because in this world, we need happy. There is sunlight. There are flowers. There is central air. There are indoor toilets. There is food. There is love. There are friends. There is creativity. There is genius. There is medicine. There is chocolate. There are movies. There are nice people. There are cars. There are trees. There is jam. There is family. There are kisses. There are books. There are good qualities in everyone. And there is funny, funny stuff. We can be content.
Now if I can just apply this philosophy to my life on a daily basis, I'll be good to go. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.