The last couple months I've been kind of cranky. Life hasn't been going according to my plan. You may have picked up on that if you read my Resolutions for 2013, or any of my Valentine's Day posts. I sound cranky...
However recently I have felt the winds of change. And I just pray to God I can stay in the moment, not overthink things or suffocate this burst of positive energy. What? Me? Sabotage my own happiness? Pshaw!
Along with navigating life's twists, turns and changes, I've been known to complicate matters by constructing massive road blocks out of unattainable and unrealistic expectations. Oh sure, I can create amazing plans, but I'm often not satisfied with the results because I have preconceived notions about what the results should be. I could bullsh*t you that I'm an over-achiever, that I set high goals for myself, blah, blah, blah. But the truth is, on occasion, I don't just set high personal expectations, I set high expectations for other people, places and situations. Believe it or not, a-hem, my efforts are not only unappreciated, they lead to personal disappointment because things can't be forced, they must unfold naturally.
This frustrates me to no end, because I know better. I can't control people, places or things. But sometimes that knowledge doesn't stop me from getting in my own way.
A few years ago, I took the boys on a roadtrip to South Dakota. I had the trip mapped out to a T: where we'd stop: the Spam Museum, the Butterfly House in Sioux Falls, the Corn Palace, Wall Drug, the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and more. I pre-determined down to the minute, how long we'd stay at each attraction. Some might say I was incredibly organized. Others might call me a control freak, considering my kids were only 6, 7, and 10, and I did no calculations for bladder activity.
I wanted that trip to be perfect. Upon our return, I planned to file for divorce, so those two weeks needed to be idyllic; a vacation filled with perfect moments that would become forever etched in their minds. Only the Spam Museum and the Corn Palace can deliver idyllic, right?
My itinerary was pages long and filled with minutiae: "Stop at Sertoma Butterfly House. One hour. See butterflies emerge from cocoons. Touch butterflies. Take photos. Wash hands. Get Diet Coke. Return to car."
As if I had the power to control when butterflies emerge from their cocoons...
As you can see from the one minute video below, those creepy cocoons refused to cooperate. They wouldn't budge. How dare they mess up my plans? In the video I'm clearly annoyed.
Yes, I stopped taking video for a bit, but I wasn't going to leave that damn butterfly sweat hole until we saw something come out of a cocoon, even if it was Derek Smalls from Spinal Tap. I had planned for perfect and these kids were going to get perfect, dammit. Two hours later (way behind schedule) this is what happened (47 sec video):
In the background, one of my children is completely uninterested and repeatedly asking for the butterfly chart. My other son's reaction was: "They've got really big butts."
Not exactly the perfect-etched-in-their-memories -forever moment I had expected. However, that was my fault for having any expectations at all about how they should react to butterflies in a room more humid than a swim meet in Hell. As we left the butterfly house, the boys saw a park and before I could say a word about our schedule, they were off and running and jumping and laughing. I found a bench and sat down.
Watching their carefree happiness made me tear up, knowing a painful divorce was ahead for them. But at the same time, I felt so grateful just to be with them. That feeling of gratitude seemed to give me a sense of strength.
At that moment, despite an unknown future, I felt a great sense of relief and lightness. For some reason the words I'd heard so many times finally made sense: it's about the journey.
Whereas I previously thought the world was about to crash down around us in a couple weeks, I felt a great sense of freedom, as if I had my own set of wings. I had no clue what the future would bring, but I knew that if I could remain in the present - not regret the past, nor worry about the future- I would have the capacity to experience those etched-on-your-memory-forever-idyllic-moments. Too often I forget how simple it can be.
Something good has happened to me recently and I'm grateful for the turn of events. I'm ready to crawl out of my cocoon. I know that if I take time everyday to be grateful for the blessings in my life, I continue to gain strength. And as a result, I will be able to enjoy the journey, no matter where it leads.
If I just let go, I'll become a butterfly when the time is right.