Brytani in the Land of Supposed-to-Be’s

17 Mar

“Long days after they had climbed out of the valley and left the Last Homely House miles behind, they were still going up and up and up. It was a hard path and a dangerous path, a crooked way and a lonely and a long. Now they could look back over the lands they had left, laid out behind them far below. Far, far away in the West, where things were blue and faint, Bilbo knew there lay his own country of safe and comfortable things, and his little hobbit-hole…

‘The summer is getting on down below,’ thought Bilbo, ‘and haymaking is going on and picnics. They will begin harvesting and blackberrying, before we even begin to go down the other side at this rate.’ And the others were thinking equally gloomy thoughts, although when they had said goodbye to Elrond in the high hope of a midsummer morning, they had spoken gaily of the passage of the mountains, and of riding swift across the lands beyond…Only Gandalf had shaken his head and said nothing…

He knew that something unexpected might happen, and he hardly dared to hope that they would pass without fearful adventure over those great tall mountains with lonely peaks and valleys where no king ruled.”

The Hobbit, Chapter 4, Over Hill and Under Hill

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m currently reading The Hobbit. It’s a pretty effective frame for some of the posts on this blog because it’s about a tiny hobbit (and guess how big I am?) who’s dragged into an adventure he’s not really sure he wants. He’s reluctant and cowardly and yet he is often the accidental hero of the tales (along with Gandalf, of course, who schemes every bit of it). He questions his worth and often wishes he was home and safe again, he has emotional highs after a success that are usually followed by extreme terror in a situation he doesn’t know how to get out of. Any of this sound familiar? Well, of course that’s not you. You’re the bravest and most cunning person who ever lived. I’m referring to myself.

On our wedding day, as part of my vows to Hubs, I promised that I wouldn’t look to the past or to the idea of a future for comfort. Instead, I promised to take every day as it came and to make the best of things in the moment, not wishing the present away. It doesn’t sound as beautiful as more traditional vows, but I think only we could understand the importance of that part of my vows.

Over the course of our relationship, I had to make compromises to shape my path and my future around his. Now, I didn’t necessarily give anything up but there are things that I’ve had to put off for another time and opportunities that I’ve had to turn down in order to share a life with him in the present. He’s had to make similar choices. The hardest part of being on a journey with someone else is the mourning of those things you had to leave behind or save for another day. Just like Bilbo looking over the valley, I’ve thought to myself, “I bet it’s nice down there in that land where bold, single women are pursuing fascinating careers and expanding their skills at will. They must be having fun way over there where couples are traveling the world together.”

And then there are times when the unimaginable bad things occur and stand in our way. Unemployment happens, sick pets happen, sick parents happen, and the adventure we thought awaited us is suddenly darker than anyone would have guessed. It would be easy enough for us to say, “This isn’t how it was supposed to be! We need to stop and go back or find another way. There are people all around us having a better time. Where is our honeymoon? Where is the dragon guarding a huge pile of gold?” But we promised. We promised that we would make the only decisions we could live with and that we would make the best of whatever lay down that road. Everything else is poisonous.

I think I can say with a some authority that no matter how good another person’s journey looks when you’re in a bad place, every path comes with its challenges and what you’re seeing can never account for the entire struggle of their adventure. The only thing you can be sure will give you peace and joy is to persist and persevere in the life you’ve chosen. There’s a lot of work in adventuring; you only get back what you put into your journey. The best thing you can do for yourself when things aren’t how you pictured is stay positive. Do whatever you can to make things better for yourself and leave the things that are out of your control out of your mind.

And you know what? It’s okay and even necessary to mourn when things don’t go as planned and you feel you’ve missed out on or lost something that seemed important to you. Have a good cry about it but then do yourself a favor and put it behind you. Gripe to your friends or your partner about how badly your job situation sucks and then do the best you can. Continuing to look at other peoples’ lives and wish away your days is the best way to miss the good things available to you. Take some time to appreciate the small things–those supportive parents, your comfortable bed, your pets who love you unconditionally–and keep going.

Don’t let the supposed-to-be’s get you down.

Oh! And just a little update on my life list for this year: I have a job interview tomorrow with a local bookstore. It could be a great thing for me so say a prayer or cross your fingers for me. 😉

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