We all want neat, satisfactory endings. We crave it. Happily-Ever-Afters are addicting. It’s why fairy tales and romantic comedy films are so successful. The guy gets the girl, the girl gets her guy and they ride off into the sunset on a white horse under a rainbow.
Watching as a story comes to a gratifying, wrapped-in-a-bow conclusion is comforting.
That’s what we want. To be comforted by these stories that we indulge in as momentary distractions from the unfinished, imperfect, messy nature of our own lives. Our real lives which take place in reality and don’t have the benefit of being written and directed for the purpose of creating a single-conflict story with a clean resolution. Reality isn’t as neat and organized with the conflict that it doles out and the resolutions tend to be more elusive than what a leading character faces in a 90-minute movie.
We’d all love for things to be neat and logical but that’s not how it always works in real life. There are a million cliché quotes to describe the messy journey of life.
“Hindsight is 20/20.”
“Life can only be understood backwards; but must be lived forwards.”
“Life is about the journey, not the destination.”
“Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.”
“A personal favorite of mine is: When we make plans, God laughs.”
While they’re definitely cliché sayings that we’ve heard over and over again, it’s difficult to claim that their message isn’t true and relatable.
Even as we claim to know all of these clichés like the back of our hand, it doesn’t stop us from planning out our ideal ending. Dreaming that our lives could be like the neat and satisfying stories that we read and watch. Obsessing over it so much that we forget to enjoy what’s in front of us right now.
All of us have messy lives that are imperfect – no matter how perfect it may look to others online.
We are all imperfect.
The people around us are imperfect. Our cars, cities, homes, jobs, churches, pets, family, co-workers, politicians, all of it. Nothing is perfect and nothing was meant to be. That doesn’t mean that we have to love it any less.
Of course, it’s wonderful to have goals and aspirations that we’re working towards. It’s great to seek out growth within ourselves and in our accomplishments. At the risk of making this post too cliche filled, I would like to advise that we make a mindful decision to enjoy the ride on the way. I emphasize the word mindful because I understand what it’s like to feel trapped in a life that you don’t recognize. I know what it’s like to pine for the good ol’ days, long for more joy and love and not know where to turn.
We can improve the lacking aspects of our life with a mindful decision to celebrate the things that we already have. To seek out the things that will satisfy our heart rather than what we think we should do. By embracing the beauty of the imperfection around us.
Gift-wrapped resolutions are great and fun and comforting. It’s nice to know how something is going to end. For those of us who watch re-packaged rom-coms with switched out characters and settings – we love predictable endings, but life doesn’t grant us that luxury.
Each day we get is a beautifully wrapped gift that we get to star in and direct (for the most part).
If we can embrace that things have a way of taking their course and messes are just a part of the deal, maybe we’ll be less focused on the happily-ever-afters and find that our unfinished, imperfect, messy life has so much more to offer.