You Get One Life. You Get Multiple Shots At Happiness
"My eyes keep blurring these lines, it's like I've been wasting precious time. Come on, love, wake me up to something real." - mat kearney
Some seasons the world gets really quiet. Nothing specifically changes, upheaval is still there, unresolved issues are still unresolved, people are still complex and relationships are still complicated, but your world, it’s quiet and peaceful. For me, moments like those are usually a direct result of added perspective.
Between cities that never sleep and careers that ask of us more than some of our families do, we’re found stretched thin in cafe corner booths wondering at what point we fell asleep at the wheel. When did we start handing over our power to the motions of life - more than that, at what point did we stop feeling uncomfortable doing so? There should be a gut feeling that tells us that living for anything that is meaningless should feel wrong. There should be a nag when routine brings us too close to being ungrateful and dismissive of the people around us who make our present moments possible. There should be epiphany after epiphany that brings us back down to earth and anchors us in the truth that we get exactly one life and that happiness should be the fuel that feeds it.
When you’re in so deep though, there isn’t a nag or a gut feeling or a red flag that’s waving 8 feet from your line of vision. Instead, there are highs and goals you reach and lists accomplished that find you into routines that find you into a life that you forced yourself into. No one else.
The realization that you’re not wholly comfortable in your own life comes usually not from noticing your own life in a vacuum, but by plugging it into the greater map of the world. And it isn't that your life is bad - mine sure isn't - it's that it's not fitting into my definition of happiness. We cheapen our definitions sometimes to fit our realities, but then someone you know gets cancer.
People you love, they struggle with finding meaning in a life that you see so much value in. People you admire, they don’t see their own self-worth when they look in the mirror.
Living is hard and making the most of the one life we’re given is even harder because we so often forget that we’re allowed to enjoy life. I forget that this is the only life I’ll ever get and that every day adds up to the life I want for myself. My life doesn’t start the day I publish my first book, say my vows, or have my first child, it starts with choosing happiness today. We don’t give ourselves the space to choose happiness in the present moment because we’re eternally trying to earn the right to be happy.
We overcompensate. We check things off a list. We produce until we're on our third (higher) Warby Parker prescription set of glasses. We deprive ourselves because we subscribe to the fucked up belief that if we’re too happy today we may not be allowed to be happy tomorrow. Add to that our complicated relationship with self-worth and how often we tell ourselves that we are not deserving of the degree of happiness that would actually make us happy and fulfilled.
Some seasons the world gets really quiet and the only whispers we can hear are of the voices pulling us to surrender to the life we actually want. Getting pulled to contribute to that life today is a blessing because the reality is that we may not get a tomorrow. We don’t have to earn happiness on any day, we just need to be brave enough to take it.
I can think of a handful of individual stages in my life when I’ve been brave enough to take it. I don’t like that I can count those on the fingers of one hand. My current shift comes not from wanting to have a blissful, problem-free life, it’s from wanting to learn how to find happiness even on the days when it’s the hardest to find.
We get exactly one life, which can be depressing or the push needed to remember that if you’re reading this, it’s not too late.