Blogging rule #1: Never make a proclamation.
So here we are, three weeks later, and the proverbial chicken is accumulating more and more mold in my proverbial Crock-pot. Suffice it to say that the past few weeks have required less talking in the early morning hours and more listening, all while quietly hoping that the future might not be terrible, despite some appearances to the contrary.
I started listening to a new episode of The Moth on the way to work one morning after writing some thoughts down and thinking about the potentially terrible future. And I was really, really thankful to hear these words from Ophira Eisenburg, who recounted her fight with breast cancer and the questions that followed her into the future.
Through all of it, they said, ‘You need to think positively.’ And I would just go, ‘What are you talking about? How can I look at myself in the mirror and lie to myself?’ Because I know what it’s like when things don’t work out the way you want them to. But now I kind of understand what that’s about, because it really doesn’t matter whether you think positive or negative. It has zero influence on the outcome.
But it certainly has changes how you experience the moment.
I’m still full of fear. So many question marks loom in the future. But I try to challenge myself. I try to say, ‘Ok, if everything fell apart, if everything went to hell in the worst way possible, would I think to myself, “I am so glad I did not let myself experience joy or happiness in the moment because it really protected me from the future”?
No. Life doesn’t work like that.
Yesterday, on the way home from work, I had an inexplicable craving for a popsicle. If I’m going to eat something frozen, that thing is going to be ice cream, so popsicles never really make it onto my radar. But for whatever reason, I said, “You know what I could really go for? A popsicle. Like a really good pomegranate popsicle.”
(I have no idea. I’ve never even had a pomegranate popsicle before.)
Seeing as how we were two turns away from a grocery store, it seemed like a good idea to stop and see if they had any popsicles. And lo and behold, this grocery store that I routinely roll my eyes at for their small selection and gas station prices not only had popsicles, but pomegranate popsicles. I opened one before I even got into the car and whatever my random expectations were for pomegranate popsicles, this exceeded them all. It was probably the happiest I’ve been in weeks.
After pomegranate popsicles came planting a garden and opting for two bags of potato chips at the grocery store (because when they’re 2 for $5 and there’s a jalapeno bag and a cooked-in-avocado-oil-and-sprinkled-with-Himalayan-salt bag, you just get both) and grilling kabobs for dinner and making caprese salad and playing (read: losing) two hands of cards with my roommates.
It was very, very clear to me that all of those things were pure joy—things that, days prior, were unknown portions of an unknown future. A future that I discredit on the regular, much like the pomegranate popsicle grocery store. And in the same way that Ophira described the insanity of not experiencing joy because it might ultimately end in apocalyptic failure, I am understanding all over again the insanity of forecasting a terrible future. Because even if terrible things were to happen—even when they do happen, I never say the opposite: “I’m so glad I anticipated this and embraced unrelenting fear because it really protected me from the future.”
No. Life doesn’t work like that.
I know this is a deeply entrenched psychosis so I’ll see you all here again the next time I come to this conclusion. (Give it a month or so.) But at least for today, I’m glad for the reminder.