This is how it turned out.

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.

And yet.

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.
It’s ever-changing.
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.

 

9 Comments

  1. Monica
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Such a perfect reminder, when all I can seem to write about is all the ways I wish things were different. But it’s true. THIS life was my dream not too long ago. Thank you for the reminder!

  2. Susan Mazzoni
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    This. Yes.

  3. Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I asked God for guidance and assistance regarding our finances today. An unexpected, yet completely expected answer came right away. Truly be present with and enjoy who and what you have (a very abundant life in every way that happens to include more debt than I’d like), clear clutter, keep things clean, and your finances will be worked out as a result. Your beautifully written post feels like another part of the answer, or rather, fuller guidance on the being present and enjoying part. So, so appreciated. Thank you.

  4. Posted August 6, 2018 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Such good timing for this message. Thank you for this, Andrea. Your heart is a shining thing.

  5. Posted August 6, 2018 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I love what you wrote so much. Thank you for this gift today. These days, right here and now, these are the good old days. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Andrea.

  6. Barbara
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    This is lovely, Andrea. Thank you.

  7. jackie
    Posted August 7, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Such a beautiful post and poem
    Thank you 🙂

  8. Hilda
    Posted August 7, 2018 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing Andrea! It’s so true and important for me to remember!

  9. Kristen
    Posted August 9, 2018 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    This. More of this. Always. Love when you share your stories.

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