Family and friends are more likely to want us to stay where we are, feet on the ground and our bum securely in a safe seat, buckled in and sheltered from life’s difficulties – when what we need most is to be swimming against a tide, bucking a trend, debunking conventional wisdom, and doing what only we can see: our vision, our dream, our concept of what is possible.
I’ve often written about grief, of my own and about others. I’ve focused on the ‘loss of expectations’ aspect, mostly from the point of view that there was a real loss of a person, loss of a relationship, loss of a business – loss on some large emotional scale.
I’ve been thinking lately about a different shard of this breakage – grieving our loss of something which, in hindsight, was never what we wanted it to be. Never what we thought it was.
In this less than ideal life, we settle for things that seemed like the best idea at the time.
We were full of hope and high expectations.
Something went wrong. Something evaporated. Something fell short. Something was misread, misinterpreted, or misrepresented. I’ve done it. Many times.
In those moments, we willingly share accountability, but a year or decade later, it’s so easy to focus on things not working out as being someone else’s responsibility. Blame, responsibility, and energy for disgust then gets directed at some other party, any other party.
I remember stories my mother told in her final months – tainted with anger, not in memory of what was great, but by what could have been, that wasn’t. Sadly, none of those were out of reach. I remember wondering why it was more important for her to remember what she’d wished she’d done rather than what she’d enjoyed. I sometimes wonder if I own that gene …
The only thing standing in the way of happiness or pursuit of ideas or ambitions are obstacles in our own mind. We need to stand clear, need to get out of our own way. A recent conversation with a friend unearthed some of this for me, along with a meeting with someone on the other end of the spectrum, going from experience to experience, getting better every time – without regret.
The challenge, of course, is often to overcome the people closest to us – they care about us and don’t want us to crash, which gets in the way of them cheering us to soar.
So, we have to ignore them and leap off cliffs.
It isn’t that people don’t care – but it’s not their life. Not their cliff.