Checking in on Reality

When you are chronically single, it is good to have at least one other chronically single friend. This increases the odds that, at any given time, one of you will be sane.

I was speaking with one such friend recently, and it was her turn to be sane. Both of us would like to have kids, and both of us are ever more rapidly approaching the age of ain’t gonna happen. The subject came up and my friend said in a hushed, semi-awed voice, “I think I’m OK with that.”

The “OK with it” option had occurred to me but was a little too scary to contemplate closely, like the ingredients list of a Twinkie. I have this idea that thinking will make it so, but here’s the thing: it is already so—I neither have kids nor do I currently find myself in a situation that leads to the rapid production of children.

When do we continue to believe in the possibility of something that isn’t yet and when do we accept life in its current state? On the never ending list of things I don’t understand, the balance between those two is near the top.

My friend’s sanity lay in shifting the emphasis: while she may not have this one thing she wants, she recognizes that her life is incredible. The question is not so much am I giving up on something as am I remembering that right now, my life is incalculably rich. Right now, I have an enjoyable job; I live in a beautiful place; all the parts of my body work well; I have wonderful friends and family; I no longer need to worry about the ingredients list of a Twinkie.

Louis CK does a great comedy routine called “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy.” (On being impatient with smartphones: “Give it a second, it’s going to space.”) There’s always something available with which to play the if only game—marriage, kids, publication, four-foot-high chocolate fountain. It’s just so much more fun to play the everything’s amazing game.

6 thoughts on “Checking in on Reality

    • I was wondering, after reading your comment, why I need so much reminding of that. Then I remembered how we’re barraged with messages telling us we’re not OK and thought I need to build more reminders into my day.

      • I absolutely agree that we are barraged with negative messages every day and that that plays a role. But I also think it is also a blind spot of those of us (like you and me) who are forward/future thinking. I have so many plans and goals and I can get frustrated that *I’m not there yet*. But as much as I am fixated on the goal, it is so much more rewarding to focus on the path I am traveling to get to my goal. Even if that path is winding and sometimes not always headed in what seems to be the right direction. It is still a beautiful path, regardless of the destination (which changes all of the time anyway as we grow and change and evolve).

    • Well, I think to be a responsible human being, there are other considerations, such as the challenges of being a single parent. But that wasn’t really the point. The bigger question is how we approach wanting something we don’t have, which is a recurring if not eternal situation in human life.

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