You will always be in conflict and there will always be a need for reconciliation and repair. The people around you are different than you, and your competing desires produce tension, sometimes agonizingly so. It is not hard to see the world around you is in turmoil. You are probably even in conflict within yourself. Repair, or reconciliation, is what brings all things together. Any beauty we see is the orchestrating of disparate parts into a state of resonance. We must learn to enact this type of reconciliation and practice it routinely. If we do not do it daily, things fragment and fall apart.
Remember your life is not supposed to be stress-free. I think we all have ideals we are dreaming of: “Everything will be great when….” Fill in the blank: “…when I find ‘the one,'” “…when I get a new job,” “…when I retire.” It’s the time when it feels like you’ll just be able to kick up your feet and relax for the rest of your life, when you’ve finally “made it.” I’m not saying we can’t experience good things, but if we count on attaining some version of utopian paradise, we are going to start wondering why all this stress keeps coming at us.
Our desire for perfection can be damning. It leads us to constant unhappiness, feeling as if something is not quite right. We always expect to have life the way we want it and when life does not cooperate, we enter depression. The reality of our lives is that we are basically always in this middling position – always working toward our ideals and seldom attaining them. When we do attain them, the satisfaction is fleeting. We rest on the top of the mountain for a moment and then set off toward another higher mountaintop.
It is important to periodically step back and evaluate where you are going – to sharpen your focus, refine your course, gain some perspective. Without this, you are just a rudderless ship, floating and swaying every which way the wind takes you. One of the greatest gifts we have as human beings is the ability to get outside ourselves – outside of life – and look in, measuring and assessing, ever evaluating in order to choose the best course. Without doing this, you may end up somewhere you did not choose to be. It is not because you chose to be there; it is because you neglected to pay attention. The reasons we do not pay attention are myriad, but they mostly have to do with us not wanting to face the music – not wanting to take a sober look at ourselves, what has happened to us and what we have had a hand in creating. So much unnecessary damage can be avoided by taking this step back on a regular basis.
In order to love and accept our life and those around us as they are, we must learn to grieve what we thought they would be. Without doing that, we will always love our ideals more than we love the actual thing. This does not mean we have to stop wishing for things, for hope is a good thing. In fact, if we do not do this sort of grieving, we will not be able to hope. We will only have depression – the kind that follows when we do not get what we thought we should have. Everyone goes through this kind of disillusionment – mostly in our adulthood (there is a normal developmental idealism that carries us through our youth). Our marriages, our careers and our lives in general undergo this disillusionment and it is totally normal! Maturity is the consistent “surrendering” of our ideals to attempt to love what is, rather than what we hoped would be. Again, the hope is good. Our demands for what we hope are what are dangerous.