Forever

john steinbeck nothing good gets away.jpg

The word "forever" has been coming up a lot in my life lately. The older I get, decisions seem to carry more weight; who to spend the rest of your life with, when to have babies, and finding a job that will hopefully turn into a career, to name a few. Most of the people around me have already made or are in the middle of making at least one of these decisions, and I am in awe of their bravery. 

I used to think braveness meant not settling down. To be brave, I believed, you had to forge a trail in unexamined territory. Take big leaps. Opt for the constantly new and exciting instead of committing to a plan or a person or a place or a way of life. There are days that I still believe this. But there are starting to be more days when I'm not so sure. 

I often worry about being a late bloomer. I am a proponent for going at your own pace and figuring things out in your own time, but I tend to dwell on the What Ifs of life. What if  I had pursued that job? What if my way of thinking right now is going to totally screw up my life later on? What if  I would be in a better place if I had made this decision instead of that one?

It's extremely gratifying to finally be finding my passions and getting a little direction in my life, but it's easy to get frustrated that I didn't figure it all out soonerWhere would I be right now, what would I be doing, if I had been brave enough to voice how I felt, or if I had taken the time to pay attention to what piqued my interest and then had gone after it? I spent a lot of my life being passive and assuming that things would magically work out without much effort on my part. I was wrong, and that's been a hard pill to swallow. 

The quote above has been stuck in my head for several months. It's become almost a mantra to me, each individual part sparking hope in my soul, even when I am feeling ridiculously lost. I'm drawn to it because I don't fully believe it, but somehow I still think it's true. Is that a thing? To feel two ways at once?

If it is right, it happens. I'm still determining whether or not I believe in the concept of "meant to be", both in love and life in general - I've seen far too many instances that contradict the idea that just because something is wonderful and right, that automatically means it is going to happen, or will continue happening. What Steinbeck should have said (yes, I am correcting an award-winning, classic author, deal with it) is: If it is right, it happens, but you have to put some effort into it or it may never come to pass, and remember that luck and timing often play a role as well, which isn't quite as poetic, but is a little more realistic. 

Nothing good gets away.  Not true, old man. I've seen good things get away, on more than one occasion. However, I've also seen good things stick. Some even go away and then come back again in a different form. And ultimately, I determine what is good and right for me. Nothing good can get away if I don't let it - if some good and right things slip through my fingers, then I can try as hard as possible to get them back, and if my best efforts don't pay off, I can choose to decide that perhaps they weren't as good or right as I thought they were. The difficulty in that is never knowing for sure what could have been. It's all about perspective, but I can't help but think that there are some things I might regret forever.

The main thing is not to hurry. This is such a struggle for me. There's no telling what the future holds, but it often ends up being all I can think about - and that's when the anxiety sets in. It's the whole lack of control thing that gets me the most. I try to rush through the present moment because I want to skip right to the ending instead of sitting still and hearing the whole story. But I can't control the future, because it's not here yet. Some dreams that may seem hopeless right now could very well end up being fulfilled. A year ago I had no idea where I'd be at in my life, just like I have no idea where I'll be a year from now. I can try to steer my life in a certain direction, but that has to be done one day at a time, step by step, with patience. 

And here's the thing: ultimately, I will be okay, because I have to be. There is no other option. Life is certainly not all sunshine and rainbows, but it's not all darkness and spiderwebs either. I can be disappointed about things that don't work out the way I want them to, but that doesn't mean I can't live a fulfilling and happy life. I can choose to find the beauty in the tragic, even if it makes me sad, because sadness and tragedy are a part of life too. The important thing is not to let those feelings consume me, and to instead focus on the innumerable things there are to be grateful for, here and now. Each phase of my life has felt as if it was going to last forever, but none of them ever has. This knowledge gives me comfort. Technically, nothing is forever, and that makes forever a little easier to accept.