I’ve always been a very goal-oriented person. Throughout my adult life I’ve had the sense of being on my way to somewhere, with a rather specific destination in mind. This is a place where I have a career established; something stimulating, interesting, something I’m proud of. Unlike grad school, or my post-doc, this is a thing of more permanence. It’s not “training”, it’s where the training is leading to. Perhaps a Faculty position, or Researcher at a leading laboratory. A term that is expected to last years, not a limited time like school or fellowships.
In this place, I’m earning a good living. I’m making money that is representative of my level of training and education. I’m comfortable. I have a home, a nice home. In a nice neighbourhood. Not a mansion, not a 3000 sq foot penthouse apartment, but a nice home. It is decorated with warm colours and comfortable furnishings. There’s a sense of style. A few Objets d’Art are tastefully scattered about, and colourful artwork hangs on the walls. My kitchen is warm, inviting, and stocked with the latest modern conveniences to keep things ordered.
In this place, I drive a nice car, but nothing ostentatious (I don’t like standing out that way; conspicuous consumption turns me off). I wear nice clothes – they speak of an appreciation for well-made clothes, of good quality fabrics that hang and move well from my frame. And yet, there’s a touch of “hipness” and a spark of my own style.
The idea was that when I got to that place, I’d arrived. And I was no longer working towards something, but just enjoying being there. I mean, sure, life would continue but my destination would have been met. I’d be static in a sense: this is where I would be while I devoted myself to other persuits, like enjoying my career, and my home, starting a family, going on a few vacations, and persuing my hobbies. Mission accomplished, now sit back and enjoy it.
Well, I was walking along the other day towards the car, with DS sitting on my left hip, his chubby little hands grasping me. DD was walking along beside me on my right, her warm little hand in mine. We’d just had a nice visit with Grandma, and were all in good spirits. And as I walked I thought about how nice it felt to have my two kids in my hands/arms, and how much I loved them…and then suddenly it hit me – This is It. This is Life. I’m already there.
I realized then, that Life isn’t a place I’m working my way towards. It’s not static. Instead, Life is all the little moments we experience each and every day, all piling up on one another like a giant collage. All this time I’ve been thinking I’m going somewhere, but I’m already there. For example, there will never be another moment, another time ,when my children will be exactly this age, and I’ll be holding them exactly that way as we walked to that car. Feeling the love I did at that moment, the deep sense of happiness, in that little, mundane walk through the parkade – that was Life. And what was I losing out on by thinking I hadn’t got there yet?
This whole blog started because the destination I’d always had in my mind had suddenly been sidelined, pushed away by circumstances I’d never envisioned in my neat little mental story of how it was all going to play out. And yet now I’m realizing that there is no destination. It’s an illusion. Life…is not static. Not ever. I’ll always be looking ahead to the next step. I thought that once I have the house, the income, and the career, that’s it. Then the real living starts. Well, I’m wrong. It will always be changing. We’ll buy that home one day, and then there will be something else to plan for and think about and work towards.
Now, I have been aware of the old adage “you’ve got to stop and smell the flowers”. I’ve tried really hard over the years to practice that – not to wish away the present too much in favour of the future. But now that I have children, it’s vitally important that I do it. But not just as a way to preserve the memory of the journey, but instead because there is no destination: the journey is It. And it’s all those little mundance moments that make up the journey. So now my task is to start living more “in the moment” and stop worrying about when we are going to settle down, and when we are going to buy a home, and when we’ll be making better money…because life is now, and I have these two wonderful kids, and they are never going to be this age again. This. Is. Life.
And it’s pretty wonderful.