Friday, August 29, 2014

When Life Isn't All It's Cracked up to Be

When I was younger I remember really, really wanting one of those spinning, "Skydancer" fairies that could fly. They were these crazy toys with wings that would shoot up into the air when you pulled a string real hard....like a lawnmower only with frenzied amounts of pink and purple instead of a motor. You know the ones I'm talking about?



The commercials would show them as actual "flying" fairies. All my life I'd wanted a flying fairy. It was as if my purpose on earth was all leading to that one moment....the moment when I would finally get a flying fairy.

I begged my mom for what felt like centuries. I did all my chores. I said "please" and "thank you" when I was at Gramma's house. I even tried not to fight with my sister. I was Little St. Jen, the Heavenly Fairy Obsesser. I remember pining for this toy like it was an everlasting fountain of joy and pure happiness. I ate, drank, and slept Skydancer. I just had to have one. I just had to.

And then....it happened.....Skydancer. My sister got one too and we went absolutely ballistic. SKYDANCER, people.

We raced outside to try them out. I popped mine on her little dolphin wave pedestal, pulled the cord, and let 'er rip.

Bsssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh - ZING!

So high! So fast! So beautiful! She rose and soared in the wind, shooting skyward, becoming one with the fairy winds of the North....until suddenly, she wasn't. A crazy cross-breeze stopped her momentum like a bolt of lightening and she came hurtling to the ground, headfirst, plummeting faster, faster, faster, as I looked on helplessly, mouth open, struggling to accept the fact that she was NOT a real flying fairy...no, not at all. She hit the ground with a horrific *snap* and I watched as one of her precious wings broke right off.

I can still see it in my head, slow-mo style. SPLAT *pop*.... *tink....tink....tink*

I realized two things that day.

1) TV toy commercials are full of lies.
2) Building something up so, so much can sometimes set you up for disappointment.

I relished the idea of that Skydancer so much, I truly thought sparkling trails of love would follow her everywhere she went. Maybe it's the writer in me. Maybe it's the drama queen in me. Maybe it's the hopefulness in me. I build things up. I'm a huge builder-upper. I build things up so high they're bound to tumble down with reality.

So what's a chick to do when she realizes she's built something up too high? What happens when that hopefulness turns into disappointment? How do you stay positive when you realize your obsessing has actually backfired....instead of planned, purposeful, and poised, you're drowning in the unexpected and waiting for the joy to hit you....waiting, waiting, wondering where it is?

Is this it? Is this what I've been waiting for?

No. The answer is no.

Call it God, call it fate, call it life....whatever your name for it, some aspects of living cannot be controlled. A little girl's flying fairy dreams, a teenage girl's first love, a grown woman's lifestyle desires.....all fluid, each one of them. None of these things, dreams, love, or desires, are tangible, concrete steps toward a self-fulfilling, realistic destiny. These are ideals. These are manifestations of the heart.

These are the building blocks of towers I've built and watched tumble down around me, brick by disappointing brick.

I envy those who see the greater picture, who aren't concerned with the future, who know in their heart it will all work out. Maybe if I were one of those people, I wouldn't obsess so much about the things I want and would instead accept the beauty and joy I already have....because this is a tough lesson to learn, the one where you work and work to try and grab something that never truly existed, at least not the way you wanted it to.

It always comes back to perspective, for me. I am constantly realizing I need a perspective check...the kind that allows me to see things through other people's eyes, the kind that makes me want to slap myself for feeling anything but blessed.

So the fairy didn't fly. So the first love didn't love you. So the lifestyle you thought you were getting isn't really a thing.

So what. What are you going to do about it.

Well, you can sulk about it. You can stomp your feet and scream "THAT'S NOT FAIR" and you can whine to your mom on the phone and talk your bff's ear off. You're allowed to feel upset. That dang fairy was supposed to fly. This isn't what I signed up for.

But then what? What happens when the anger and disappointment becomes too much to carry...when it starts to fade and you get tired, oh so tired, of being pissed off? What's the next step?

I have a theory.

Take you hopes, the ones that got you into this situation, and shuffle them up a few steps. Go on and wiggle them up there, like a heavy moving box on apartment stairs. It ain't easy. It ain't without work. But keep pushing. Dream at a higher lever. Dream with people like Gandhi and Mother Teresa and all those other studs in Heaven.

Why do we quote these studs' words, know their names, cherish their lessons? Simple, really. They had the ability to reformulate their desires to match the reality they were given. They learned from every failure, every mistake, and every lost dream....and used that knowledge to build a completely new set of dreams, these ones aimed at a higher level of thinking.

Fairy doesn't fly...but fairy makes my sister smile, which is kind of like flying.
The first love doesn't love me...but my first love is happy, and because I love him, so am I.
This lifestyle isn't what I wanted it would be.......but I can feel it, the simple happiness, waiting just around the corner. Waiting for me. Waiting for me to drop the 'tude and realign my thinking. Waiting for me to engage and soar.

Your life, and mine, isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Sometimes we set ourselves up by building up.....a vacation.......a wedding..........the first day of school.

It's ok. The dreamer in you is coming out. This is a positive thing. Take the sting of your failed assumptions and refocus them. Raise yourself up to this challenge called life. You can take it, and so can I.

To all those who work hard to make their dreams come true, Happy Labor Day. And as always, my lovely, hard-working readers, thank you for reading. 

Jen

13 comments:

  1. I'm reading a book called The Power of Glamour by Virginia Postrel. I picked it up because I liked the cover and thought it would be a good read for my reinvention challenge. Your "Skydancer" story reminded me of it. You were caught up in the glamour of the fairy dancer. All of glamour is an illusion and we never see the hard work that takes place behind the scenes.

    I'm in a similar position as you write about and am trying hard to appreciate what I have - a good job, a nice home, my health, money in the bank, my family etc. Then there are those days I just want to run away...

    I'm going to appreciate this three day weekend. I deserve to enjoy it and to not be thinking about next week or next month. Happy Labor Day to you and your family too. Another great post.

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    1. Savvy - you absolutely deserve to enjoy your weekend. And you're so right - the glamour we see tricks us into thinking that's all there is to it....nothing before it, nothing after it, nothing behind it....just the beautiful, attractive, glorious glamour.

      There's nothing wrong with getting disappointed and frustrated with the illusion. You stick it out, like you always do, and try, try again. Try with a new angle. Try with a new set of expectations. That's where I'm at.

      I truly am so thankful for your compliments and wish you the best three-day weekend a chick can have. Enjoy, Savvy, and thank you so much for reading!

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  2. This is such a beautiful post. We all can become caught up in what we think will make us happy. We often focus so much on those items that we forget what is already around us and can currently make us happy. Happy Weekend!!

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    1. Thank you so much Sheryl!! It's so hard to maintain that perspective...the one where you acknowledge the present instead of the "what ifs".... I'm still working on it!! Thanks for stopping by and for the sweet compliment. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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  3. I am naturally a dreamer, the kind of person who gets very excited about things--and I still believe most strongly that it's worth dreaming, that life is worth getting excited about, even if things aren't quite as amazing as they were inside your head. My husband is more of the steady, never get excited, never get sad type of person. I think there's a need for both in this world.

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    1. Completely agree and I have also seen both personalities - it's interesting to watch the dynamic! I am much more the dreamer type, as well, which I think lends itself quite well to my chosen profession. I am all about the possibilities, but often find myself caught up in all this pre-conceived excitement and very rarely take the time to live "in the moment" or "in reality." It's a hard balance!

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  4. I am like you - the grass is always greener. Before I make any major life changes I try to really appreciate what I have, which isn't easy. Good luck to you in finding perspective and I hope you are enjoying your time at home!

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    1. Thank you Kristen!! It's crazy, when I was in Germany I would look at the landscape and think "wow - that is gorgeous! I want to go there, to that beautiful hill!" Then I'd drive on over there, look back at the place I came from, and be all like, "holy smokes! That is so pretty over there! I'm gonna go back!" It's insane!

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  5. front page, 8-31-14 Chicago Tribune -
    “It is almost a gift to have someone tell you when they think you are going to die. Imagine all the petty, insignificant, unworthy things you spend time thinking about and doing in your life. When someone tells you that you don’t have much time, you are not going to do those things.” Tim Shaw, former Chicago Bear, recently disclosed that he has ALS.
    We all “spend time” with the “insignificant”. When it takes me less and less time to become aware of this, like a palm smack on the forehead (insert Homer’s D’Oh), I know I'm doing better.
    Take your right hand and place it firmly on your left shoulder. Take your left hand and wrap it firmly around your right waist. Squeeze tight. Hugs to my dear sweet baboo who is loved by so many so very much. Thank you for shining the light in dark corners.

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    1. This one made me cry! Very true, every word. I struggle so much with maintaining that perspective and keeping myself grounded....prolly because I spend so much time with my head in the clouds! Thank you for sharing that quote - it is truly inspiring and I need to read it often. Love you so much!

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  6. I try to always look on the positive. Whining and complaining all the time isn't going to help.

    And by the way, I found one of those fairy things new in box for 8 bucks at Once Upon A Child. I got it!

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    1. HAHA love my honest readers - whining and complaining certainly doesn't help, you're right.

      And have fun with your fairy! Taking a page from your book.....her wing might fall off, but at least she's pretty to look at! ;)

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  7. Stupid cheap toy! *shakes fist*
    I have always been a glass is half full type of gal, Jen! The kind who makes lemonade when life hands me lemons! The type that goes skipping into work! The type that can't imagine a day without laugher! I am a freak of nature!

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