A photo by Barbara Hegler. unsplash.com/photos/7WSlka25cJM

What if it’s really all about going small? What if happiness is hiding there in the nooks and crannies of life, right at our feet, instead of just past the horizon?

All this time, these decades have been flying by and I’ve been failing in the pursuit of greatness. I’m one of those people who flirts with moving mountains but gets dragged back by chariots of personal demons over and over again.

I always thought that if I could just do something big, I’d finally be happy and complete. The idea of accomplishing that big thing someday and being recognized and seen, kept me going through a lot of craziness. When things were hard and life just wasn’t progressing the way I thought it should, there was always the dream of “someday” calling me onward.

Someday when I’m grown up. Someday when these babies get grown up. Someday when there’s not so much everyday average work holding me back.

And decades flew by.

And something incredible happened.

Little by little, I began to realize that all those dreams of grandeur weren’t going to come true. I started to see that there was a younger generation coming up and that my star was fading. I started to give up on the silly dream of “someday”.

And that made me cry. It did. It made me sad.

But it also made me refocus. Smaller goals. Shorter time frames. Today instead of someday.

The people in my inner circle instead of everyone in the world.

I looked at my life from this new perspective and I could see the value of what I’d already accomplished in the small things.

For 26 years I’ve dedicated my life to encouraging one man and trying, in my wildly imperfect way, to be his companion on this journey. I’ve done great things.

I’ve poured whatever of myself I could into my children, coming from a place of utter brokenness and getting better for their sake and giving all I had whenever I grasped it and protecting them fiercely and loving them out of my ragamuffin imperfections and trying to show them the potholes and ditches along the road that I’d already stumbled into and crying and praying when they stumbled right behind me into the same places and being there for them when they climbed back out and got up on their feet again. I’ve done great things.

I’ve made amends with my past and mended fences and rebuilt bridges and forged new paths of connection and just kept going, day by day. I’ve done great things.

When I wake up in the morning and push the dark cloud away and do the small things and focus on the good, that’s the greatest thing I can do.

The long range, big picture focus got me through a lot of crap. It was useful. Somewhere along the line though, in the midst of the small stuff and the boring mundane details, I looked up and realized that I was happy and complete. I hadn’t done that one big thing but somehow I was fulfilled.

And I started to wonder: maybe it’s not about that one big thing after all.

From time to time I still torture myself with the notion that I’m missing it. I’m wasting all of my time and running out of time to make the world see me. In times like that I feel I have to schedule every moment. Get up earlier. Finally get skinny and organized and finished with everything.

But then I laugh because I remember how happy I am now. And I put down the agenda and go sit with my husband and waste some time.

2 Corinthians 6:9-10: The world ignores us, but we are known to God; we live close to death, but here we are, still very much alive. We have been injured but kept from death. Our hearts ache, but at the same time we have the joy of the Lord. We are poor, but we give rich spiritual gifts to others. We own nothing, and yet we enjoy everything.

 

 

 

Written by Tina Gasperson

2 Comments

Jim Grey

This is beautifully expressed.

I think it’s part of midlife to recognize that we’re never going to rule the world, in whatever way our dreams had us doing that. People who have built lives around them that are full of people — families mostly, or perhaps some cause of service — find that they have been making a difference in the world all along through their encouragement and support of those people. Or they realize they’ve squandered that opportunity so far and get busy changing it. People who figure this out do find contentment in midlife, I think.

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Tina Gasperson

Thanks for your insights Jim. I always appreciate your perspective. I think you are right – people and relationships are what makes life meaningful.

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