For most of my life the day after Christmas has been the most depressing day of the year. The carols have been sung, the cookies are all eaten, the presents have been opened, and there is nothing left to look forward to. I have always lived for the highs which meant some pretty awful lows when things were all said and done.
But this year things feel different. For starters my body and mind aren’t working off the massive amounts of alcohol that are usually consumed over the holidays. And that means I have a little more clarity. I have repeated to myself at least one thousand times “the path is the purpose.” This is a VERY hard concept for me. The inside of my mind is like a ping pong table with darting thoughts and constant bouncing around. In other words being present is not easy.
But I have learned that I lied to myself for years and years with the idea that once I “get there” I will be happy. A clear example is how I had been managing my anxiety. Once I get to 5 o’clock I will be able to relax and be happy. Lie. Or even worse, once this hangover ends I will feel better. In fact, I used to do this with everything. Once we move we I will be happy. Once the kids get out of diapers things will be easier. Once we make more money we will be happy. Once I get that new car I will be a happier driver. Once I give the kids all of these gifts that they have been waiting for all season they will be happy. All lies.
Maybe there was a little bit of relief or ease with some of these decisions but it was fleeting at best. “Getting there” or “getting that” has never really had a long term effect on my happiness. Instead the waiting and anticipation has proven to be a terrible time suck.
When I wasn’t waiting for the holiday or the weekend I was waiting for happy hour, waiting in line for drinks, waiting in line to pee, waiting to get drunk, waiting to stop feeling so drunk, waiting for the hangover to end, waiting to live.
While I was waiting for all of the things that I thought were going to be awesome I was missing the things happening that were actually awesome. I missed out on special moments with my children, cozy nights at home, reflection on the year that had passed, personal development, goal setting, making memories, and so much more.
Right now as I type this my house is quiet, my Christmas tree is lit and sparkly, my sweater is soft making me feel safe and comfortable, and I am drinking my favorite tea while working on my passion project. Seriously, what could be better?!?!?!? But, in the past I would have missed all of this while off day dreaming about the next time I would be “having fun.”
With the waiting and the anticipation finally over I am learning to relish in these moments. I am learning to find the small rays of light in the mundane days as well as the big days. I am finding that the purpose isn’t the next big or fun thing. Instead the path-which in my life means kids fighting, messes, sweaty hands, darting thoughts, guilt, stress, uncertainty, laughter, warmth, learning, love-is all we have.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t keep pushing and going for all that I want to achieve. It just means that while on my path I need to remember to notice the living that is going on around me-that happiness somewhere in between the highs and the lows.