One day Jenny suddenly announced to us that she was going to leave Savannah, Georgia and move to Maui!! Being envious many of us peppered her with: “Where on Maui will you live?” Answer: “I don’t know.” “Do you have a job there?” “No.” “Why Maui?” “Because everyone is happy on Maui.” It quickly became clear that the voicing of this newest flight from her current life was simply “more of the same.” Previously Jenny had announced that she was moving to Hong Kong, Mumbai, or maybe Bhutan. At various times she was going to leave her job at McDonald’s and get a job as a welder (even though she had no training in this field), or work as a deckhand on a tuna boat, or become a tattooist. Central to all of these options was that she had no training or experience in any of these fields. We tried to get her to see that the way to get where she wanted to go was by taking some small steps in that direction each day. But she seemed to have no patience with a slow evolution into who she wanted to be or where she wanted to live! She persisted in thinking that happiness was somewhere “out there,” and that all she had to do was find it! Which, for Jenny, meant that it was anywhere but here!
It is not unusual or unhealthy to want a better life than the one we have today, but how to get from today to that tomorrow can be the mystery at the heart of the difficulty! My experience has shown me that each day for me involves a healthy tension between the dream of where I am going (Hilo, Hawaii, June 2019) without ignoring the day that I am IN. What I have found is that the key to my happiness is to find small ways to celebrate where I am even though that is not where I ultimately want to be. If we are not content, to some degree, with our life as it is right now, no matter the difficulties which may be present in it, then we are always seeking to escape that life, which means that we are never fully present to that life. If we don’t know how to find some happiness in today, no matter how miniscule, then we won’t know how to be happy tomorrow!
There is a Mexican proverb which states “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know that we are seeds.” I think there is much wisdom in the insight at the heart of this saying… that which is difficult or unpleasant in today can still grow a future happiness. So, for me, Yes, I dream of Hilo and I take small steps in today to move towards the realization of that dream: buy a Hawaiian shirt online, start eating fresh mango imagining that this is what breakfast will be like in Hilo, take an online course and start learning Hawaiian. The key, I think, is to find ways to pull tomorrow into today, ways that do not cause me to avoid today but, instead, help me to celebrate today… which, after all, is the only moment guaranteed to me!