So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how stupid most people are. No, no. Don’t be offended. I don’t just mean all of you OTHER people. I absolutely include myself in that. I am a complete and total idiot. A lot of us are. Let me explain.
We all basically just want to figure out how to be happy in life. A noble goal, sure. But, as we search for the answer that will turn every day into butterflies and rainbows, we often come up with the notion that happiness is waiting for us just around the next bend in the road of life. And so we all get sucked in by the same thought. The same foolish, misguided, and (dare I say) idiotic thought. See if you recognize it. It goes like this: “I can’t wait until [insert life event here]. It’ll be so awesome!” No, it won’t. Think about it.
When we’re little everything is about what we’ll get to do once we’re older. “Why do I have to eat this gross meatloaf? We’ve got pie. Why can’t I have pie?” That’s where it starts. “I can’t wait until I can eat whatever I want. It’ll be so awesome when I’m eating nothing but Pop Tarts, tater tots, and candy.” Or there’s this one: “These clothes are ugly and stupid. Mom has absolutely no fashion sense at all. I can’t wait until I can choose my own clothes. It’ll be so awesome because my swimsuit would go great with this tutu, and I just know they would both look incredible with these snow boots and my bicycle helmet.” Or “I don’t need a nap. I’m perfectly fine. I can’t wait until I can stop taking naps. It’ll be so awesome when I can stay up forever and run around and go to school and play Candy Land and dig holes and eat pickles and do chores and draw a giraffe and never stop moving EVER!!!” And so we long for the day when we’ll finally be “older”. That’s when it’ll get good.
And then we get older and everything is puppy dogs and sunshine, right? Wrong. Instead, we realize that we didn’t read the fine print. “So, now I have to clean up after myself, too! But, I just spent all day playing with these toys. Haven’t I done enough for one day?” “What? You mean I have to go to school ALL DAY, AND follow directions, AND do my work, all without a nap? What are you, insane?!” “I’m too old to watch Dora?! But she’s my mejor amiga in the whole wide mundo!!” And as we notice that our lives are still hard, we come to the decision that this must not be the good part yet. Clearly, it’s still coming up. So we again look into the future for that magic time when everything will be easy and life will be happy. “I can’t wait until I get a car. It’ll be so awesome when I can go wherever I want.” “I can’t wait until I move out. It’ll be so awesome when I can get away from my parents and all of their rules.” “I can’t wait until I’m out of high school. It’ll be so awesome when I can finally just study the things I’m interested in.” We oh so bravely blaze onward, trudging through all those trials toward that day when it’ll all work itself out.
And then we get to college and, finally, the world is our oyster, yes? Nope. Once again, life sneaks up on us and spits in our food when our backs are turned. “Well, now I can finally stop studying all of that useless stuff the school used to make me do. I can just focus on my chosen field, which is… something… that is… going to be… awesome! Crap! What am I going to do with my life? Oh well. I’ll just take a few random classes until I figure out what I want to OH MY GOSH COLLEGE IS EXPENSIVE!!! I better make a decision before I waste more money on another semester of fencing and needlepoint.” And, as we stand there with nothing to eat but Pop Tarts and tater tots, dreaming of Mom’s meatloaf and an afternoon nap, we again decide this can’t be what we were waiting for. We must not be there yet. But it’s coming. Just you wait and see. It’s going to be amazing.
And we never stop. “I can’t wait until I get out of school and can finally start really working at this job I’ve been training for,” becomes “I can’t wait until I can stop working at this job I’ve been slaving away at.” “I can’t wait until I finally have kids,” sometimes turns into “It’ll be so awesome when my kids are finally old enough to take care of themselves.”
Even on a smaller scale, we do the same thing. “I can’t wait until this week ends. It’ll be so great to be done with work and just rest. Wait, there are dishes and laundry to do? I have to shovel the driveway? We’re having friends over and I have to make a dinner? My neighbor needs help hiding a body?” Ok, maybe not that last one. But, the rest is plausible.
Now, this may all seem like I’m saying life will always be terrible. You may have noticed the part at the beginning of this rant where I said life wouldn’t ever get awesome. I stand by that, but I don’t mean what you might think. I don’t mean that awesome things won’t ever happen. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be excited about the future and look forward to the next big adventure in life. I just mean that every new adventure means new challenges, too. So no matter what awesome thing happens, there will always be some decidedly unawesome stuff happening, too. If we can’t see how awesome life is now, we’re not going to be able to see it any better in a month or a year or ten years. If we make a habit of focusing on those bad, unpleasant, unawesome things in our lives, we’ll just keep seeing them and we’ll always be waiting for the good times to finally start. We need to train ourselves instead to see how good we have it now. There are amazing things happening in our lives every day, if we look for them. Like Scrooge learned from the Muppets, “Life is full of sweet surprises. Every day’s a gift.” So let’s all stop being stupid and be awesome instead.
Life lesson learned: Life is awesome and Jim Henson is my hero!
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