In the French movie Amelie, the failed author says at one point, “life is just a neverending rehearsal for a play that will never take place”.
This seems wise, but to me it is really a negative way of saying that life is the play. You can either take it as a rehearsal, or as the play in and of itself. Tony Robbins says that the metaphors we use to describe our life, end up shaping our life itself. Do you see your life as a struggle, or as a dance? Do you see it as a rehearsal or as the play itself? It’s not too hard to see how this affects our approach to life, and consequently how we end up experiencing and living our whole lives.
I’ve recently noticed that for the first 20+ years of my life (which only just concluded recently), I was trained to see my life as preparation for… my life. As a tiny girl I was preparing to go to school. As a first grader, as they taught me to write in lower case, I was told that was to prepare for when I’d have to write longer stories. Once I got to writing longer stories for class, I didn’t have to be told I was preparing to learn to write essays, which in turn were preparation for final exams… a stepping stone towards university.
After I graduated from university last year, society seemingly spat me up into a job which has as much similarity to my dream as a porcupine has to a waterfall. I got up and went to work every morning, constantly telling myself, I am here preparing for my next step.
Which is what?
A question I couldn’t ask myself.
I said I am just catching my breath, living for now, supporting myself, getting used to life as an adult, independent… all this in preparation for going after my dreams.
What I didn’t acknowledge is that, unlike before, when the deadlines were defined for me, I could actually just stay at this stage of “preparation” forever. Nobody would stop me. I could live the rest of my life here, waking up, going to work, going home, all the while telling myself I am preparing to make my move.
As I came to realise this, it also occurred to me that this is precisely what the majority of people are doing. Living their lives as if they were still preparing, still rehearsing for that show that is never going to take place. And realising this made me awaken with a shock to the reality that all along, I wasn’t here to prepare.
I was here to live.
As adults we look back to our days as children, wondering why we were in such a hurry to grow up. We look back to our “carefree” teen years (do we have amnesia, calling them carefree – when it felt like any little step out of line could get you tortured or rip your dreams out of your hand?) when we were young and energetic and beautiful, when our dreams hadn’t yet been sold (newsflash: they’re still there, if you allow them to be). At some point we stop preparing for our dreams, opting instead to prepare for our children’s dreams on their behalf, prepare for their security, ultimately prepare the world and ourselves for our own deaths.
So what can we do with this information?
Aside from preparing (ha…) to educate our kids in a way that doesn’t put the emphasis on preparation, all we can do is be this change. Step into the understanding that we’re not here to prepare. Take census of where we are today, and let that be what it is.
I’m not saying to sacrifice your hopes and dreams, goals, objectives. All I’m saying is that we would all be happier if we dropped the rat race for a bit. Rather than looking for the lack in our lives to prepare to get rid of it, we would probably be happier focusing on what we do have, where we are, what we are doing with our lives today.
Right now I feel like I’m living in a fallout shelter waiting for a hurricane to pass, so it’s a perfect opportunity for me to sit upright in my shelter, feeling the warmth of the room and listening to the wind and rain crashing outside, and just let that be exactly as it is.
I am learning.
I am growing.
This is exactly what I needed for right now – not for preparation for a bigger struggle, just for my understanding and depth of appreciation, now, today, on Sunday at 1:13 PM.