Ok so imagine that you are holding on tightly to your definition of How The World Is. We’re going to run with my definition for How The World Is for the moment because, well, I’m writing this.
My definition was formed when I was a kid. I learned early on how certain things were and that they wouldn’t change. Now bearing in mind that I grew up in Canada in the 1970s, some of the ideas are a bit… dated. But let’s just stick with it for the moment.
So you go to school. Elementary, high school, university or trade school. You get a job. You settle down. Get married. Have 2.5 kids and a dog. If you’re a woman, odds are you stopped working when the kids came along. Your kids move out, you slow down. Retire. Live half the year in Florida and half in Canada. Maybe travel a bit depending on the state of your health. Then you die.
You plan on doing anything fun when retirement comes so you can justify how shitty your life (probably) is in the moment.
Women who are over 40, that’s me!, were expected to act in a certain way which included with decorum. Run the household. Wear nicer clothes and makeup. Follow the rules for wearing white. And be content with being last in line for everything. Maybe even have fun little hobbies, like book club or macrame.
Still with me?
Ok so imagine that you grow up thinking that if I do A, which in this case is go to school all the way through, I will get B, a job etc. I pay attention to the rules because they will get me the results that are so desirable. The results and path laid out for me by my entire extended family.
So I’m holding tightly to these ideals. Looking at what I’ve got, following the rules, doing what’s expected. And I tell myself I am content. This is how life is. I’m nuts for wanting more. Everyone else is happy on this path.
Though in response to changing times, I do not stop working to earn money.
And I quietly try to feed my discontent with travel shows, and friends from all over, and endless stories of distant lands and far off place… and dreams.
And I tell myself that I can be happy with what I have because that other stuff? That living abroad, being single, swearing and expecting more than just crumbs is for other people.
I have what I deserve. I have my definition of how the world is and my place in it.
And so I do grow old, can’t really travel because of a bum knee, but I don’t really want to any more. The spark has faded. My kids see me at holidays, mostly but not always. My husband passes away before me after years of contentious marriage. I live in a small house so full of memories I choke while I’m there but I never leave.
I have had the life I held on to so tightly.
Nothing else could fit in because my hands and my mind were closed.
But what if How Things Are is not how they have to be?
What if letting go of what you know to be true, actually frees you up for something bigger in life?
What if you put down the mortgage, travel the world, get the tattoos, say NO when you really want to, say YES even when it’s terrifying, wear white at any time of year, swear like a sailor, and teach people how you want to be treated?
What if you put yourself first even when it feels selfish because for so many years you haven’t even been on the map?
What if you open your hands to receive more even though it means dropping what’s in them already?
What if, indeed.