Most things in life are a shadow of their expectation. Most events end up being overly romanticised and painted with the brush of perfection in our minds’ eyes; perfect timing, perfect wit, perfect enjoyment. The reality of the actual life can feel flat and disappointing in comparison, and I think a lot of negative feeling in life can be pre-combatted by managing your own expectations.
And so I was a little concerned about the level of excitement Twin1 was harbouring heading off to sleep last night. Jupiter and Venus have come into conjunction this morning, passing within 3º of each other, and we’d made a plan to wake up early and take a look at them. I reminded him over and over that they would just look like stars to us, that we have no telescope, and that it would be back to bed afterwards. “That’s okay, I have really good eyes.” “I will put on my slippers quick as a flash and then race back to bed before the sun wakes up.”
And then, the excitement when we actually went out in the garden. “Oh my gosh! There’s Luna!” The moon. The moon on its own, ladies and gentlemen, was enough cause for tiny four-year-old rapture. You can guess that the conjunction was in no way a disappointment to him; shivering and star-gazing in his glow-in-the-dark space-slippers and cozy red dressing-gown, he looked like some icon of times gone past.
Part of me wishes I’d taken some photographs of him. Part of me knows it wasn’t really something cameras could capture. Maybe it’s better for it to grow in memories, his different to mine, but undoubtedly formed forever – the Winter night he woke up early to watch a conjunction. With not even binoculars. I’m looking forward to some telescope gazing over Christmas when we visit my parents’ house.
I’m pretty sure there’s a lesson to be learned here, right? Maybe I’ve been wrong to be managing my expectations down. Maybe what I should be doing is managing my wonder up.
I’ve been sitting around like a passenger in my own life, waiting for glorious things to be presented to me at the appropriate sanctioned moments in time: birthdays, Christmases, Weddings and Anniversaries. I’ve been waiting for important things to show me that they’re important, to hi light themselves in memorable and lasting ways, to paint joy into my memories. And all along I’ve been missing the essential ingredient – my own active participation in the formation of joy in my life.
The goddamned wonder is there! It’s there every passing second of each day and night, it’s me who’s forgotten how to notice. Guys, the fucking moon is up there. Luna! Shining bright and visible almost every night, changing between crescent and gibbous and full, then waning to nothing – and we get to see that with our bare naked eyes (okay, glasses for me, but the point remains). The stars! I live within the city limits and I can still see a star speckled sky on a clear Winter morning. The very wonder of living creatures around us, breathing in and out – just yesterday afternoon, Twin1 was praising how kind plants are to us to be making Oxygen and taking in Carbon Dioxide. He’s not wrong, that’s a pretty special deal we’ve got going on on this planet.
There’s so much beauty and wonder in every moment that we’ve become blind to it. It’s like museum blindness. I can be excited and absorptive for about 90 minutes of museum time, and after that I’m all “Yeah, sure, another stunning work of art, or discovery of science that makes you glory in the achievements of humanity. Whatever.” I stop being able to see it anymore.
I’m worried that my life has become a bit museum-blind.
Okay, so you probably can’t sustain walking around the place in constant gasping wonder, but it doesn’t cost a lot to take some moment, to go “Oh yeah! Fucking life! Teeming beautiful life, breath in my lungs, crisp Winter air, balmy Summer sun, or rain? Why the hell not? Rain is there too – cold and stinging, or warm and silky, does it matter?”.
And we are thoroughly blessed and honoured to get to feel and experience and see and hear all that we do for as long as we’re alive and on this planet, so why do we turn our backs on it? Why numb it out? Even the bad, the difficult, the painful and the boring – all of it is a gift.