And so it is only appropriate that, as I was running errands on Saturday, I had the following revelation: This is the life I wanted.
It's actually true. As a much smaller person, I remember watching movies about women with jobs and lives and space to be themselves, and I wanted it badly. I lusted after a life that would belong to me in that way. I wanted a life in which I got up and read the paper. I wanted a life in which I had my own apartment and looked around in the evenings and liked the things on the walls and the books on the shelves. (I knew there would be lots of books.) I wanted a life in which I had friends I adored with whom to have long dinners or meet for drinks or laugh on a sunny afternoon. I wanted meaningful work I was good at, though I never, in my wildest dreams, thought it might be this work. I wanted to be 30. The dog is a complete surprise, but you pick up some things you didn't know you'd need along the way. This is the life that I wanted.
What I didn't know, what no-one ever told me, was that when I got the life I wanted, I'd also be wanting something else. No-one ever explained that, actually, I'd have to. The room that holds my life now has to have windows and doors and ways to move through. Otherwise, it's not a life, but a prison. But this room that is my life also came with a hidden trap door that I haven't watched for: In order to be happy, I have to be constantly imagining my life as something different, something better than it is now. I have to be working towards something that builds on the thing I have to make it stronger, make me stronger, make the potential of the life that I wanted real. And while imagining that, it's far too easy to fall in and assume that if I'm imagining something else in my life, the life I have isn't the life I want. It isn't good enough or exciting enough or fulfilling enough. The things I want now that are missing loom as evidence that I've done something wrong. The things that I have that aren't enough are proof that I was wrong to want them all along, instead of cherishing them for the stepping stones that they are.
Trapdoors lead to dark places. They lead to places where I'm claustrophobic and want out. Down in the dark, I can't see the room I live in now. But it's the room I hoped for. It's the life I wanted. I'm living it everyday. I'm using it to move towards something I want, too. That's what makes it a good life. I should hold it more gently. I should revel in it while I have it. Because I won't forever. I don't want it forever. One day I'll open one of those doors and walk through. I'll climb though a window and fall into a bush. And so, somehow, I have to find the balance towards knowing that I want my life to change and loving the life I always wanted.
The lovely photo above is attributed to someone known as Balu62.