chasing the finish line

I have been away from writing for so long.

The keys feel foreign beneath my fingertips and the words come achingly slowly.

I do not know how or where to begin, so I follow an old writing instructor’s credo — “If you don’t know where to begin, just start.”

For months now, I have been mulling the idea of The Finish Line in various life stages.  It seems to me that we are almost constantly chasing an invisible end point — that magical point at which we achieve a true and lasting happiness, or at least a huge and permanent warp speed thrust towards such a nirvana.  We tell ourselves that if we can just meet our soulmate, get that promotion, move to that exotic locale, finalize our divorce, or get pregnant, then — THEN! — we will be happy.  And why not?  After all, Hollywood assures us this is the case:  most movies end on an upbeat note that has you departing the theatre, comforted that the characters’ lives continued offscreen in some version of Happily Ever After.

But real life doesn’t usually work that way, does it?

I had a foreshadowing of this illusion when I was still young and arrogant enough to faithfully trust that the illusion was real.  I was about to graduate from college, and some friends of mine were experiencing worldwide music success on a scale they’d only dreamed of.  Their songs were racing up the music charts, their faces graced magazine covers, celebrities knew of them and approached them, and their tour dates were selling out spectacularly fast.  After a tour that took them through most of Western Europe, Russia, and the Far East, they returned home to find their girlfriends the object of hate mail and their homes staked out by paparazzi.  A few days later, in the wee hours of the morning, after a night on the town, I found myself standing in my kitchen with the founding member of the band.  I waxed on about how wonderful their success was and how amazing it must be to experience.  He paused a moment, licked his lips slowly, as if considering his words carefully, and said, “Nothing is ever what you think it will be.  And sometimes the pieces you thought would be so great are the biggest disappointment, and the precious moments take you by surprise.”  I was shocked and asked if he somehow regretted their success.  He quickly answered, “God, no.  It is amazing.  But you think, before it happens, that if only it would happen, you’d never be sad or lonely or insecure or bored again.  But you are. You really are.”  I left him that evening feeling that perhaps he’d had a fight with his girlfriend or was overly tired, because, really, how couldn’t you be happy when you’re becoming rich and famous?!

But life doesn’t usually work that way, does it?

Some people have hoped for a happy ending to this blog — that somehow, some way, after these months and years of writing and analyzing and crying and persevering, I might finally have my Happily Ever After.  Some wish this because they know me and care about me personally.  Others wish this because they need a beacon for their own journey, some reassurance that such a thing exists.

I wish I could report to you that now that James and I have purchased a home, moved into it, and blended our families, life feels constantly sweet and comforting and certain.  But it doesn’t.  It really doesn’t.

In fact, we are struggling.  Getting back together and making a big commitment did not serve to wrap a pretty little bow around us and leave me blissfully smiling my way through the rest of my life.  I wish it did.  I would love nothing more than to write post after flowery post about how perfect my life is now and how wonderfully loved and cherished I am.

But I can’t.

So, instead, I will remain true to my one commitment I made to myself and my readers — to be real, and honest, and authentic here.  Some readers may be disappointed that I resist the embellishments that would permit me to write a very satisfying fiction, and a few are likely to be smugly satisfied at the lack of a fairytale ending, but none of that changes what is real for me.

I remind myself frequently these days that life is about the journey and not the destination.  I allow myself the luxury of spending some days (or long nights) just being along for the ride, watching it unfold and trying not to cling too hard to expectations or wishes.  I hold my blessings tightly, counting them like a miser with his gold.

And I wonder whether what I am experiencing is wisdom or disappointment.

Only time will tell, I guess.

Because that’s how life usually works, doesn’t it?

picture in our head

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13 Comments

Filed under divorce, happy endings, love, relationships

13 responses to “chasing the finish line

  1. Isn’t that the truth? I could go on and on about this. Had a very wise friend say once “Be careful what you wish for- you might just get it.”

    I think we need to be content with ourselves first and the rest will eventually follow- at least a peace with where we are right now.

    Nothing is 100% perfect. There are two sides to everything. It’s better for me if I focus on the upside. …..

    Life is a journey. I’m not sure there *is* a finish line because it keeps moving.

    • Focusing on the upside is something I’ve been reading about lately in the book “The Art of Happiness.” The basic premise is the question, “How would you feel about ‘x’ if you knew with certainty that it was the absolute best thing that should be happening right now?”

      Big question, right? 🙂

  2. In life, the finish line is not the goal. Getting there and how you do it is what life is.

    I do think that we are all, especially girls, set up to feel like failures. It is stupid. We should just be living for what works out fOr the best. Because there is a lot of sweet when you accept the bitter layers, too.

    • You’ve touched on something that my grandmother used to say a lot — “if you’re so busy staring at the horizon, you miss what’s in front of you.” I think it’s terribly easy to fall victim to hopes or dreams or “shoulda” and miss the possibilities right in front of you. Some days, “good enough” really is okay. Because tomorrow might be great. 🙂

  3. The beauty of your life right now…is that you are still fighting the good fight. You are building, rearranging walls, re-wiring…all a process. The house is not done and there may always be some painting to do. The nice thing about that is that you have someone to paint with. Doesn’t have to be fairy tale to be real, or good or happy.
    Peace to you
    LFBA

  4. Happily ever after doesn’t exist. Living in the moment instead of in the past or the future is as close to happy ever after that we all will achieve. One foot I front of the other and it’s all good. xxx

  5. Sending much love to you, darlin. I have come to find that as long as I can find peace within myself, my relationship will prosper. So THAT is what I am integrating more into my being: serenity.

    One of my fave movies is “How to Make an American Quilt” — a brilliant movie with many brilliant quotes. (Just look at the cast and you’ll see why this movie is so wonderful.) So I share my favorite quote — since the first of many times I watched this film — “Young lovers seek perfection. Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together and of seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches”. The 2013 finale of the TV show “Private Practice” also touched heavily on the topic…

    Lots of love, peace, joy and serenity,
    B

    • Thanks, Brit. I think what becomes scary is, with as much history as we have, and as muddled as it is, sometimes it’s hard to be sure that we can salvage it. But we haven’t given up just yet. Still trying to knit those threads together…. 🙂

  6. I love this quote ! And your honesty. It’s just life, TPG, you are not alone… Most of us struggle through trying to enjoy what we have. To actually see the happiness on our doorstep.
    Good luck with everything. It is normal that James and you struggle after so much upheaval in such a short time. Hang on in there, and everyone will find their feet… Meanwhile, hugs xo

    • Thanks for that, Lady E. it is always useful to me to be reminded that some turmoil is expected and even necessary now. I so dislike it that I forget that major change brings major bumps. 🙂

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