I’ve been in love once. It (obviously) didn’t lead to marriage, though at the time I wanted it to. I’ve always heard that marriage isn’t exactly romantic – at least not in a Hollywood sense. That is, you don’t wake every day to flowers and breakfast in bed; not every day is capped with a kiss; you don’t write poems every day, etc etc. The big, romantic moves that happen while dating aren’t necessarily as regular over the course of a marriage.
It’s more consistent commitment – romance manifests itself in the form of changed oil and filled gas tanks, washed dishes, babysat kids, washed and folded laundry, support in hard times – little acts of great service over the course of a long life.
It seems to me that, as human beings, we tend to expect great big things to happen for a long time at a time, and for everything to be especially good for a while. We strive to make each and every moment absolutely incredible, and we grasp at one or two moments that were exceptional, hoping that we can make every one just like that. For me, I’ve held on to movies that I watched with a really good friend or a couple of family members – for example, to this day, Frankenstein makes me want to be with my mom, and Frozen makes me want to be with my little sister. Because the moments we shared those films (and films are just an example) are moments etched into my memory, and they’re sweet, sweet moments.
but I don’t think that’s how life works. lightning doesn’t strike twice. Things are always changing, always shifting. Here are some small examples: I love coffee, but when my throat hurts, coffee makes me sick to my stomach. I love driving with my windows down, but driving with my windows down in the dead of winter is incredibly uncomfortable. I love to read a book by the light of my lamp in the morning, but at night, it’s not the same (because I’ve been up all day.)
Things are always changing.
I remember when I graduated (and forgive me, because I have to harken myself back to this reality often) and I thought that was the start of “real life.” I was right, but I was wrong about what “real life” was. I thought that every day, I’d feel like going out with my friends; I thought that once I had time, I’d burn through my book collection; I thought that making money all the time I’d pay off all of my bills and never be anywhere close to broke.
Life’s not that easy. Nobody told me that I’d get a job that costs me 15 hours a day, or that when I have a day off from work, I’d actually miss it because I don’t know what to do with my spare time – after all, I’m usually working! Nobody told me about the temptation to be a workaholic.
Nobody told me that after college, you have to make a whole new set of friends, and that it can be really hard. Nobody told me that life isn’t sitting in a bar or a coffee shop all of the time with the exact same people every single night (the way some sitcoms lead you to believe as a young, impressionable kid.)
Nobody told me (at that point, it wasn’t as prominent, I suppose) that everyone puts their best foot forward on social media and makes it look like they do awesome things all of the time, when in reality, most people sit at home in front of a TV and Netflix. Those moments we put on Instagram are often as good as things get, and we try to encapsulate them.
And that’s okay – I don’t want to demean any of that reality. Because here’s the reality behind the reality: life is what you make it.
And, life is seasonal.
I don’t know that I’ll always work 45-55 hours a week, but while I do, I hope to make the best of it by embracing the people around me, enjoying every second of it, learning everything I can within my trade, and spending as much time as I possibly can sleeping (ha!)
I don’t know that I’ll always live with two other guys, but while I do, I can learn from them, encourage them, and be encouraged by them, learning how to serve each other along the way.
I don’t know that I’ll always live in the same city, but I can learn to appreciate every cultural nuance I possibly can while I have the time.
I don’t know that I’ll always make the money I do right now, but I can learn everything I can to live as well as I can on as little as I can, paying off everything I’ve used in the past for which I still owe.
I don’t know that I’ll always be single, but I can enjoy the freedoms and lack of commitment that it entails, and then later if I’m married, I can revel in the joy of serving someone else for the rest of my life.
I definitely won’t always be 24, but while I am, I can enjoy a fast metabolism, good young legs, lots of energy, and the ability to hone myself physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally in ways I may not be able to later.
As I write this, I find myself wanting to complain a lot – in particular, today my throat hurts, I’m tired, I’m physically uncomfortable, I’m broke, I’m waiting on Christmas presents to come in, I’m bored, I’m sort of lonely, I’m frustrated from a creative standpoint, and I don’t even know what to do with my spare time.
But I’m starting to think that each season of life is glorious in its own way. The trick, I suppose, is to see the best parts of each one and enjoy it as such.