Isn’t life interesting? I’ve learned that my life is not a dream. I don’t know about you, but I remember when I was 19 years old wishing, praying, and hoping to find a girlfriend, get married, and start a family. I would watch TV shows and movies where the man had a family and through some bizarre chain of events, he saw what it was like to not have a family or something threatened to break the family apart. By the end of the movie, he was able to fix whatever was going on or the bizarre chain of events suddenly ends and he is right back to where his crazy journey began, only this time he is a little wiser and appreciates what he has with the family that he was blessed with. This might seem weird to you, but I believe that my heart was longing to have what that husband and father always took for granted.
I remember putting myself in the place of the characters and I was the one at the end of the movie who was trying to win back that women or earn the trust of his children and then finally succeeding and living happily ever after. I would literally cry at times because I could feel the emotions of the character. I know, weird.
Fast forward 18 years, one wife, and three children later. I have what I always wanted. Although most of the time, I don’t realize how blessed I am. I’m like that character on those movies who lost his perspective on his life and forgot what is important to him. He takes for granted what he has. He treats his wife rudely and without love. He treats his kids like they’re a nuisance and feels like they’re interrupting his precious quiet time when THEY should be sleeping. He yells and doesn’t play with them when they ask him to because he would rather play a game on his iPad or type out his next blog post which, ironically, is all about his family. But wait… this isn’t a character on the big screen. No-No, it’s someone a lot closer to reality and for whom I know very well. It’s ME. You probably saw that one coming, huh!
How blind I am. Deep down, if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that compared to those movies, my life is not how I envisioned and dreamed it would be like. In reality, there is no way I could have predicted what my life would be like now. I compared my life to a Disney fairy tale. It’s not fair to my wife or our children for me to hold onto those old fantasies. No one can live up to a make believe-fake-artificial life. No, it’s not fair to hold my family hostage to an unrealistic set of criteria. My expectations of that picture perfect family that lived happily ever after is a myth. I live in the real world. I must remember the wise words of a logical Vulcan named Tuvok from Star Trek: Voyager. He said:
“When it comes to matters of the human heart… It’s important to look beyond logic.” (Referring to love and/or your spouse)
“Offspring can be disturbingly illogical. Yet profoundly fulfilling. You should expect paradox.” (referring to children)
What an awesome perspective. My logic says that since I love my family, my life should be perfect since that’s how it is portrayed on TV. But my heart knows it can’t be perfect. Perfection is an illusion.
If I continue to compare my life to my childhood fantasies, I will always see it in a way that is unrealistic and thus I will feel as if my expectations have not been met. Instead, I should reflect on how blessed I am and how much I love the life that I have with my wife and children. I need to find something that I am thankful for everyday and I need to say it out loud so that I never forget or lose sight. We can all have that happily ever after ending, but we just need to recognize that it looks different from we might have dreamed. I suspect it will look different to different people. All that matters is that you define what it looks like for you.
How do I protect myself from becoming complacent and bitter towards my life? I’m trying to figure that out every day. Maybe I’ll watch more movies. Then again, maybe not!
What did you envision your life would look like? Does it?