Here I am at home. Like most of the folks these days. My adventure plot is “on freeze” for the moment. And it might be a while until the world will be “on play” again. So what to do? Shall I hold on my breath and just wait for a better future, dragging my bore with me till then?
Well, that does not sound too promising, does it? There must be a better option. There always is, if we look hard enough. Often, we just need to be willing to invest… In that look. Because our world turns around our viewpoint – rather than the other way round.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
There is no guarantee for the future, no matter how stubbornly we try to plan it.
So we have two choices:
1) We can forever wait for our “happy ending” until everything to falls into place, or
2) We can start to embrace our life now, in its present shape and color – and everything will suddenly fall into place for us.
Because however sophisticated our plans are, the simple truth is:
We can live only in the moment. The past has left us already. And the future is not ours yet.
If we can learn something from these current testing times, while a teeny-tiny virus is keeping the whole world hostage, is this:
– We can, and should, do our best to build a better future, but
– The only thing that we can control is our choice today – At this very moment.
So all in all, we might as well buckle up – and choose to make the best out of what we have. Right now. Playing victim is never going to turn things around for us. If at all, it only makes us – and those in our “moping trail” – more miserable. What’s the good in that?
A glaring revelation?
I remember what started as a casual conversation with one of my befriended colleagues many years back. I was working in Mainz at the time, while my partner was in Munich and we used to commute every weekend to see each other.
Then, each Sunday evening, the “drama” of our looming separation would hit us again in its full swing. And the drill would repeat itself every week. The time we spent separated became a dull parenthesis until we would meet on Friday evening again. And the time we spent together was shadowed by the near approaching separation from the start.
When I related my own “romantic drama” to my friend during a lunch break at work, she gave me a sympathizing look. It was a sunny spring day and we decided to take a walk outside.
I used to say that the office was “in the middle of nothing”, just outside the city. What it truly was is surrounded by a seemingly endless green landscape, on the banks of the majestic Main river – the one that actually lends its name to the picturesque city of Mainz.
Against such striking setting, the words that my friend spoke out remained for a while as suspended in mid-air, resonating not just with the lively nature that day, but also – much longer – within myself:
Just look around. We are surrounded by magic. Feel the light. Breathe. The key to happiness is conspicuously simple – and right in front of us. All we need is to spot the beauty that is hidden in plain sight. And everything else will follow.
Carpe magicae = Seize the magic!
Wow! Such philosophical depth took me by surprise – even more so since coming unsuspectingly from my tough finance controller friend. Well, not that as a business lawyer I would be able to claim more honorable credentials by professional reputation alone.
But she was right of course. While we all bustle through our lives like busy-bees, in semi “auto-pilot” mode, just waiting to go from A to B, caught in our thick net of busyness and endless endeavors, we lose sight of the essential. The beauty. The magic. And our connection with it all.
The truth of it struck me as clearly as that bright daylight: I was so focused on what I “missed” that I did not realize what I had at my fingertips. All my energy was focused on some point in the future, something that was not there. Yet all the while the thing I was really missing was my present, which was just in front of me, there and then.
It is the same with everything in our lives. It is true for our relationships as for our careers. We pave the path in front of us by deciding which route to take.
When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.Alexander Graham Bell
I was unwittingly choosing to pass on my present, concentrating on what I “wished” I had, rather than what I had already. And that was plenty!
I was surprised to see through my friend’s eyes at the myriad of lives bustling around us that day. And all the beauty. The river we passed almost every day was sparkling with light, adorned from countless specks of sunshine.
How is it that I never stopped to wonder at it before?
The shades of green of the leaves in the trees against a startling blue sky, scattered by puffy clouds, was calling upon us to look up, playfully inviting the passerby to take part in its magic. Have you ever indulged in “cloud-gazing” – and allowed your spirit to be carried along with the breeze? It is an awakening experience every single time.
Yet how many of us get distracted by the mundane, and pass on the marvel?
The end is the beginning…
Even after so many years now, this reminder could not be more current than during these testing times, while a global pandemic is keeping most people home-bound.
Sure, the situation is not what we would have hoped for. The question is, can we change it? Well, by pulling our brains and hearts together, we can – and should – do our best to prevent it from striking our world again in the future. But right now we can only take stock of the present. And try to make the best out of it.
Our focus determines our experience. Not the other way round. Because we cannot choose what happens to us. But we can choose what to make out of it. Our greatest “superpower” is our own story.
Learning to appreciate the little things can bring us a long way. Often the simplest things can uncover the greatest pleasure.
We just need to start noticing them: the linen of the bed caressing our skin when we wake up, the coffee unfolding its magic aroma in the room; the sunshine piercing through the window on our breakfast table, revealing the perfect texture of a fresh bowl of strawberry waiting to be picked…
Or maybe you are a tea-morning person and it is raining outside. Have you ever stopped to wonder at the beauty of the single droplets of rain, and the fragrance of freshness they unravel in the air?
The details might change, but their essence is universal. There is beauty all around us. The secret to a happy life is looking for it.
Here the end is the beginning…
Remember our charm for how to unlock the magic around us?
There are only two ways of living your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.Albert Einstein
What path we chose is up to us.
And back then, I realized I had chosen the “wrong” path. By choosing to live our temporary separation as a recurring “drama”, I could not even truly enjoy the time we spent together. I was focusing on what I was missing, not what I was having.
Later that day, while coming back to the office after our short walk together, when I asked my friend how she was managing her own distance relationship, her answer again was disarmingly refreshing, showing her intriguing stance on the same situation.
For them each weekend was like a holiday – a sort of romantic “escape” from their routine, which they got to enjoy even more as it was something “special”. During the other days of the week, on the other hand, she explained that she learned to appreciate the time they each had for themselves alone, after work. They began to cherish both their weekly “reunions”, and their own “alone-time” during the rest of the week, which they invested in cultivating their own hobbies and friendships.
They grew stronger together not just “despite”, but “because” of it, both as a couple and as individuals. The “trick” was that they did not take any of it for granted. Instead of focusing on what they were “missing”, they chose to focus on what they were getting out of their lives. And, as it is often the case, just a little shift of perspective made a world of difference.