When reality does not appear as we imagined it, we get stressed.
We often think about how certain things should look like, how certain events should go and what we would like the future to bring. We plan the future sometimes with quite detailed images, but what happens when things go according to someone else’s plans, not yours?
But I don’t have a white dress!
My dear partner had arranged a surprise ceremony for us to celebrate our 5 year anniversary (anniversary of us being in each others lives). This was the most romantic gesture ever, there were bouquets and decorated boats, white sand and sunsets, roses and love. But there was also a moment of panic when I realized that reality was not going to match my image of it.
Perhaps every woman can relate to this, but when it comes to special ceremonies, we want to look as pretty as possible. I usually don’t fuss about make-up (I don’t wear any here in the tropics) and my frizzy hair gives me exactly 2 options: ponytail or a bun. But when your significant other tells you you have 20 minutes to shower, find a clean dress to wear and get out the door for your non-legal-wedding-ceremony, all the zen goes out of your head and heart. When he stands there wearing a white shirt and white trousers, ready to go, all I could think about was how I did not have a WHITE DRESS TO WEAR!
In fact, I had nothing to wear! We live on a small island where the daily outfit is a worn-out t-shirt and flip-flops. I don’t own many dresses because why would I ever wear one? And the dresses I have felt so ordinary, it felt like a crime to wear them on an occasion that was so special.
Finally we would have a white beach ceremony I had dreamed of, a ceremony which would not be repeated any time soon, and this was NOT how I had imagined myself to look.
For a fraction of a second I considered crying and screaming no, no, NO! You cannot tell a girl she has 20 minutes to get ready for her own (fake) wedding!
“But you look beautiful no matter what you wear” he’d say, bless him.
I tried all my 3 dresses, twice, before settling with the green one. I had 30 seconds to pull my hair into a bun, and pull myself together.
You always have a choice
So I had a choice.
I could obsess about the image in my head, and be brutally stressed and disappointed that reality did not match it, which would inevitably ruin the whole event. Or, I could accept the fact that reality was in front of me in a green dress, grinning groom and a fresh island-bun, and enjoy the divine afternoon which was to come.
Luckily, after 20 minutes of limbo, I chose the latter, and felt truly blessed every step of the sandy way.
The root of all suffering
When we do not accept reality as it comes, we suffer. When we think life should go another way, we suffer. This is the ultimate root of all suffering, and we do this all the time. I should not look like this! My life should not have gone like it did! I should have been able to do more! I imagined it completely differently! Depending on a person, you can spend your entire life resisting what is, and wishing it would be something it is not.
It is actually pure madness to resist what is. This moment, the way it is, IS already. We can go with the flow and accept it, or be upset that it isn’t something else. But what if what IS, is something really bad, what if you are ill and wish not to be. What if your partner is leaving you, what if you just got fired? How do we accept even the ugliest of things in life, and why should we accept something we don’t want?
Accepting what is, accepting this moment as it unfolds, is not an indication that you wish nothing better for yourself. In fact, this moment is as it is, and denial will not make it better anymore. Accepting your current situation is to stop playing the track in your mind how things should have gone. The A-version of your movie, next to which your current existence makes you cry. Accepting this moment is to decide that this is the best version there is for now, and moving on to thoughts that make you feel better. Thoughts and actions that make you enjoy life, even a little, thoughts that give you strength and make you feel stronger.
It is to say bye bye to the white dress and perfect hair, because they never existed. Acceptance is to party in the green dress, forgetting that it’s not even that clean, and focusing on aspects in your current reality that make you feel better. Focusing on the love you see when he looks at you, focusing on the perfect sunset, the people who showed up, the lightness of being and the warm sand under your bare feet. It’s stopping with the excessive planning, because life always goes another way anyway.
And maybe, just maybe, your supposed detour takes you exactly where you needed to go.