I’m In A Relationship With Life, And It’s Complicated

So what is the secret, exactly?

And please refrain from referring me to the best-selling book, Secret, as highly endorsed by Oprah. I don’t care much for self-help books. Or Oprah. Or tube tops. And more obvious things like Ranch dressing and humidity.

I’d say the majority of my life I’ve been what you might call “a planner.” And no, not like that. I haven’t had my wedding dress picked out since 7th grade, but at the same time I try to make sensible, well-thought out decisions. And I own a label maker. Of course, this is also coming from the person who gave her family 2 weeks notice that she was moving to London, and who also started a retail store with no prior retail or business experience. So if I were you, I’d take whatever I say with a grain of salt. Perhaps, several.

Maybe like even one of those cute little mini-shakers from Crate and Barrel.

One of my favorite movie lines is from Dan In Real Life when Steve Carrell says, “Instead of telling your young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised.”

If you think about it, life is nothing, but a series of surprises. Rarely have I heard anyone say,Why yes, my life has turned out most beautifully, exactly as I expected it would.” Both the best and worst things in life always blindside you on some idle Tuesday.

This is especially disturbing news for someone such as myself, who hates surprises. I didn’t even like Happy Meals as a kid. Or the DumDums with the big question mark on them. Screw that.

I think how each of us defines a happy and fulfilling life is continually changing. I wrote a ridiculously honest post a couple months ago about broken dreams – all of the different ways I had envisioned my life to be at certain milestones, and the harsh contrast of reality.

So is it dangerous to dream?

Is our happiness measured by the achievement of dreams, or plans? Or is the destruction of dreams the only way we truly live and grow? Are they, in fact, the only thing that forces us to change? If left to our own demise, who of us would really seek change? Rarely, is it our idea to venture outside of what is comfortable.

And if broken dreams are inevitable, how do we maintain happiness amid the constant challenge of rebuilding? I don’t know.

I’ve never known.

Cus, lately, I wish my biggest dream was just to build a sandcastle on the beach. With my mom.

35 thoughts on “I’m In A Relationship With Life, And It’s Complicated

  1. This is some deep stuff your pondering today… Yanno, I’m torn. Sometimes I want to inhibit myself from dreaming. I’m a dreamer my nature and I’m constantly disapointed. But sometimes, if you dream real big- then find yourself half-way there- You’re actually pleasantly surprised and not completely let down… If that makes sense? It’s been a long week and I was actually up late last night talking about exactly this topic. I turn 28 next week and it’s been on my mind a lot lately.

    • carissa – well, i just turned 28. maybe it’s a turning 28 thing. and i wasn’t just referring to job stuff, actually not at all. most of my dreams have pertained to family, relationships.. the things in life that really matter.

      and yea. huh.

  2. Brit:
    Love this, love you!
    This sort of stuff has been on my mind lately…as I feel like I am not really accomplishing a whole lot of anything. I do have all of these dreams, aspirations, hopes…whathaveyou, but they all seem pretty pointless/impractical….and “reality” seems to get in the way far too often.

    • rach – love you baby cakes. i know precisely what you mean. this whole dream thing is quite perplexing….

      nikki – i know exactly what you mean. lately, i had someone tell me that when we focus on the constant preparation, we miss out on the moment. I’ve been trying to change my outlook on how “life should be.”

      Jen – i agree 100%. I am definitely not where the “average” 28 year old is, as far as kids, husband, etc. but i’ve never been concerned wtih all of that social expectation crap. it’s my own dreams, however wacked out they may be, that keep rearranging.

  3. I feel you homey…tho I didn’t buy my wedding dress in 7th grade either, I did have a general idea or timeline for my life. Now I feel as though by rushing everything to stick to said timeline I’ve missed out on a lot of things that would have enriched my experience in the journey. But, hindsight is always 20/20 so what can you do but keep on truckin…

  4. It’s called existential angst, baby, and I hate to tell you but at 41 I’m still having it. I call it my quarterly bout of personal growth gone awry. Life is tough even when it’s going great. Dreaming is a good thing, otherwise we’d never get anywhere. But, feeling like you’ve always got to be achieving certain goals can bring you down in ways you never thought it would. I wasted a lot of my twenties worrying about not being what I thought I should be and ended up miserable. I can’t have that time back. Finding peace with where you’re at in the moment brings real happiness.
    Easier said then done, I know.

    • bear – yea, maybe if we didn’t both get motion sickness.

      j – ugh my love for you never ceases to amaze! and i have been feeling that same push to just go along with what life throws me, but damn its hard for a control freak to do that.

      v – ahhhhhhh! oh to be laying on your bed again giving three ladies a massage. or, just to be laying on your bed again.

  5. Ranch dressing? SICK. Question marked DumDums?! No Thanks. Two more reasons why we were separated at birth.

    Also, I can give you an “amen!” on this entire post. I’m a big planner, but life is asking me to just open up for the ride at the moment…I know that’s supposed to be a beautiful sentiment, but it feels like someone blindfolded me and threw me into the back on an unmarked van.

  6. I miss you already, come back to me. Great post darlin! I actually have a pretty similar one in my drafts column. We still need to do that joint post with Lola and our fabulous evening, and even better next morning together. Lots of love. Let’s go build sandcastles in North Carolina. Your mom can come.

    • Hey Martha- I think that it depends on what you are dimnerag about. Sometimes I dream about things that I thought about or read before I went to sleep. Then, other dreams seem so real that I am confused when I wake up as to whether they actually occurred in my awake state. You know as kids we had the wildest imaginations, then somehow when we grew up we lost a lot of that. I believe that dimnerag is sort of an expression of our long forgotten imaginations, fantasies (I’m not talking necessarily sexual!) which we want to carry out in real life, or fantasies we absolutely don’t want to occur. Does that make any sense? Moral of my comment? The brain is definitely an amazing thing. Kristi

  7. Outstanding post! A wonderful blend of humor and deep thought.

    I for one, believe in destiny. I believe that my life is already planned out. However, I believe that dreaming is a part of this plan and also necessary, because if I didn’t dream, I would never take action to discover what my destiny is.

    I think you hit the nail on the head perfectly….

    “If you think about it, life is nothing, but a series of surprises.”

    You’re right, and I believe that destiny IS the surprise. It’s like taking roller coaster ride and not knowing where it’s going.

    Yet, my greatest enjoyment have always been the surpises.

    • ron – i am on the fence with destiny these days. i believe there is a plan, yes. but based on our choices that plan is ever changing…

      denny – oh you be quiet.

      love – sigh. what now?

      me – the awesomeness of my posts is coming more into question with each passing day. hah.

  8. it’s true. Dreams and plans never really come true. So what’s the point? I guess just to approximate. Like when I build something from Ikea. Not using directions. The problem there is you end up with a retarded looking table. This thought was so rich, so deep I need to annotate it.
    – LITD, pp 34, col3, para2

  9. But. . . if you stopped dreaming, you wouldn’t be you anymore. Not sure what you would be, but it would be different. And maybe not as good. And awesome posts like this one? Pfffft! Gone. . .

  10. Pardon the cliche but you “hit the nail on the head” with this post. The very worst thing is planning to always have your friends in your life and then they die. I must disagree with the Ranch Dressing thing. It is only second to Bleu Cheese.

  11. “Toss your faded dreams not into a trash bin but into a drawer where you are likely to rummage some bright morning.” ..oO reckon sometimes we need to open the shades to let the light in aye?

    funny this is vaguely familiar to a post I placed on me wall a little while back…I am going to attempt html tags not sure this blog will do it.

    “Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.”..oO for a few years now, I’ve had many hopes and dreams shattered, broken, misplaced or whatever. Either by my own doing or mostly by things beyond my control…isolated, annoyed and very depressed atm

    Yep, it was a dark day that day…the reality in making dreams and plans come true are the steps & thinking to achieve them. It’s the thinking we need to change first. That my dear is the hardest part & requires the most effort. The other hard part is stepping out of the ‘comfort’ or ‘habit’ zone..oO Oh Crap! Both of these require action on my part 😛

    You know there IS a difference between dreams/goals and fantasies just as there are differences between reasonable and unreasonable expectations placed on self or others.~Selah(pause & think about this)

  12. although, i would like to consider myself an optimist, i have never really made long term goals or had long term dreams because of the exact thing you have written of. LIFE. It has habit of making life for you. I like pointing in a direction and taking steps in that direction, but if something blindsides me from the right or left, then i’m more prepared to shift my path this way or that to overcome it and focus on slightly different point on the horizon, if need be.

  13. I love this! I just had this conversation with a friend last night! Or was it this morning? Anyhoozens, it was about the plans we make and the failures along the way that tear us down little by little. I need to write that entry before I forget it and link to this post.

    I’ve always been a planner by the way and not the wedding-dress kind of thing either. And although I’ve pretty much gone where ever the wind has taken me in the past few years… I’m definitely on a better, structured path now. Flying around aimlessly gets old real quick.

    Oh the talk was this morning.

  14. Not long ago I did a post on how I thought my life was going to be as opposed to how it is. I think it’s part of the maturing process that we realize our dreams are dreams and reality is what we are stuck with. You realized this at a much younger age than I did, so you are obviously more mature than I am.

  15. Wow. I wish I had read this earlier today, when my brain wasn’t past the point of no return.

    I’ve been pondering this very same thing lately, believe it or not. And I’m in my 40s (unfortunately). Recently, I’ve often wished I could go back 20 years, just so that I could do things differently. But then, when I think about it, do I really? Probably not.

    Thanks for making me think. And realize.

  16. I think the answers to your questions may change many times through our lives. Is it dangerous to plan for retirement? No. But is it dangerous not to plan for retirement? Well, probably. Is it dangerous to aspire to a particular goal in life? No. But is it dangerous to aspire to a particular goal in life while not doing anything constructive to move toward that goal? Well, yes, probably so.

    Plenty of people change directions mid-career. I’m one of them. But am not sorry for the experiences I had earlier in my life or the choice I made later.

    Very thought provoking!!

  17. I got here from the adorable Ron’s “Vent” blog. I loved your post. Just like Ron said we would. I dreamed of living in Paris. many said I wouldn’t. But here I am, have been for eight years now. Has it always been easy… not! Was the change, the sacrifices, the heartache of saying reoccurring good-byes worth it? I’d have to say, yes!

  18. Hi There,

    Here’s one more from Ronnie. Its nice to see blogs of friends 🙂
    Tricky subject,but always intriguing.
    Life is the hardest thing to sum up or put a philosophy on,because each of us is different. What works for you might not for me…

    The time when our “blue prints” (or our now crumpled up blueprints),have lot of importance… mid-age.Iam smack dab in there,even though 5-0 is not here yet.Both scary and exciting.And it just the start!!

    Have a great day.

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  20. I don’t like surprises at all, and I’m terrible at change, which is precisely why I have embraced (baby steps) the mystery dum dums and the “white” Airheads. At least I can toss those if I don’t like what’s going on.

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