Do you ever look around at your own existence and wonder, how did I get here?
Not in a negative, woke-up-in-a-eastern-European-jail-cell sort of how did I get here.
A real, heart-opening survey of what is around you. What you’ve chosen to place in your path every day. The people with whom you surround yourself. The activities in which you participate. The career you’ve taken, the food you consume, the grace you give, the words you use . . . the seemingly insignificant minutiae of an otherwise ordinary life.
Take a good look around.
Life is simply an amalgam of the seemingly insignificant minutiae of an otherwise ordinary life. Rarely will we have heart-stopping, gut-wrenching, life-altering moments that we’ve come to expect from movies, and even then, what classifies as a heart-stopping, gut-wrenching, life-altering moment? Some of us will marry, but some of us won’t — does marriage fit that bill? Some of us will choose to add children to the mix; others will not — are kids huge events in themselves? I’m not sure what constitutes a lightning bolt moment, but I know that people don’t define their moments in the same manner. My life-altering may be your mundane, your incredible my silly, but one way or the other, it is the little things, the medley of mediocre, every day moments, strung together like an entirely average cord of dimly-lit Christmas lights, that ends up defining your own life.
Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated with the concept of the butterfly effect. I love the idea that one small decision can impact the course of your entire life (the flip side of that is that I’m often paralyzed in the decision-making process because I tend to completely overthink the consequences of purchasing the wrong car . . . whatever). For me, it gives all of my decisions some meaning, some purpose, as though I’m setting myself up for something spectacular, one small choice at a time.
I remember reading somewhere that you are never more than one decision away from a completely different life. And believe you me, I made some decisions that took me into a totally different life, and it wasn’t a life that I wanted. If I’ve figured one thing out about my own existence, it’s this: I’m surviving inside a choose your own adventure book. If you make a choice that leads you where you don’t want to go, the next choice can lead you out of it. Rarely is anyone a victim of “being stuck;” there is almost always an escape route, an emergency lever, some sort of an out — though it is hardly ever wrapped in pretty paper. We too often latch roots into something that isn’t made for us because the alternative looks more icky than the present. We stay stagnant far longer than we should, and even when we are moving forward, one small decision at a time, progress can feel so, so slow.
This is what I tell myself when I feel stagnant: to keep making small, smart decisions, and to know when I need to circle back on my previous choices. I’m constantly reminding myself that, even when I feel like I’m not moving anywhere, the life I have now is the life I prayed for five years ago. And this life, though quiet and ordinary and not at all Insta-worthy, is magnificent. And in spite of decisions that took me where I didn’t want to go, I ended up right where I belong.
And for that, I’m pretty proud of my terrible decisions. Because here … here is great.
” . . . it’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst . . . and then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.”