Last Friday I got in a fight with my husband. Not just a little bickering match. We were yelling at each other in front of everyone at my son’s Montessori school. We continued the fight down the sidewalk. The kind of fight where people at the outdoor cafes covered their mouths, eyes wide, trying to hide their snickering. It was one of those almost-deal-breaker fights. The kids were hysterical. No one slept well that night.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, on Saturday, both kids were showering. Within minutes, every drain in our house started backing up. The toilets were overflowing from the ground up. It was like a sewer invasion into the comfort of our home. The kids were screaming that the bathrooms were flooding. My husband and I were panicking and rushing around trying to find the source of the problem. It not only seemed unfixable—it seemed like something that would completely ruin our entire home if we didn’t stop the sewage backflow quickly.
Then, on Sunday, I was driving home from the beach when I went blind. I literally couldn’t see. I had to pull over and have my husband drive. Was I having a stroke? Did I pick up a crazy parasite?
A month ago, a piece of my car fell out as I was driving my kids to the beach. I was stranded in a no-parking zone with two kids, a cooler full of snacks, and a couple of boogie boards.
Not long before that, I had fallen and split my head open on the bathtub. Just a few months before that, I had gotten into a pretty serious car accident.
It turns out that I just had a migraine last Sunday. But at the time, it felt like just another something.
You see, there’s always something.
There will always be something.
Do you know why that is? It’s because you’re living.
As long as you’re putting food in your face and breathing the air around you, there will be something. As long as you have children and a spouse and a car and a house, there will be something. As long as you have laughter and sadness and anger and despair, there will be something.
Because the absence of something is nothing.
The Unfortunate Windfall
Sure, you think, but can’t I just get a break now and then?
If only I was financially stable, I could handle all the crap that gets thrown my way…
If only my kids were a little less crazy, I could deal with the day-to-day surprises…
If only I was in a strong relationship with a partner who could help out, I could manage the shitstorm…
There’s a reason why almost every culture has a fable of the unfortunate windfall. You know—the lottery curse.
Someone wins the lottery, and all of their problems are solved. Or so they think. All of a sudden, the drama becomes even bigger than before. They end up with so many problems that they’d gladly take their old life back—the one with the tiny house and debt up to their ears.
That’s because there’s always something.
Money, security, love—those things can’t help you cope with all the somethings that life throws at you. External forces won’t fix the shitstorm. You have to fix it from the inside out.
The Balance Fallacy
Mothers often wish, beg and plead for balance. Wouldn’t it be nice to just have a little balance in your life?
Have you ever stopped to consider exactly what balance means? Picture a scale with two sides, balancing on a pole in the center. When you put a lot on one side, the other side goes way up. So what do you do to balance out? You put something onto the other side.
Balance is not the absence of shit. Balance just means that you have enough of the good to balance out the bad.
According to this Chopra.com article, “happiness is best attained when you fully indulge in enjoyable experiences while also effectively coping with the more difficult ones.”
Just striving for positive experiences doesn’t bring happiness—because you’re not fully living. At the same time, focusing on the negative keeps you feeling overwhelmed and stuck.
The same goes with that person who won the lottery. All of a sudden, everything is so positive. When the initial ecstatic feelings wear off, there’s a void. And anything negative suddenly feels even more negative. Again, there’s a lack of balance.
To achieve balance, you need a little bit of everything.
And that’s called living.
So, yes—there will always be something. If you feel like you can’t get out of the cycle of negativity or you find that all of the crap that happens to you is really getting you down, you need to balance it out on the other end.
Finding Your Fun
My last weekend didn’t derail me. In fact, I’m not even sure that I shared the shitstorm with any of my friends. I didn’t go on Facebook and vent about how there’s always something. I didn’t wallow in the seeming misery of each day’s events. I didn’t even plead with the universe, “Why me?”
It was just something else that happens in life. And it was like that because I practice filling my scales with all kinds of activities and emotions:
- I focus on getting space for myself as well as connecting with my family.
- I embrace sadness—and sometimes even seek it out—but I also practice finding joy in the everyday.
- I create a vision for every season so that I live within a framework of meaning and clarity instead of flying by the seat of my pants.
- I have developed practices that create happiness within myself instead of seeking it outside of myself.
I call this “finding my fun.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that there is always happiness in my life. It doesn’t mean that I don’t fill my bucket with both positive and negative emotions. But it does mean that I am always fully living.
When you’re living a fulfilled life, there will always be something. And you know what? Finding your fun will spur you to keep living; it won’t paralyze you the way it’s doing now.
Don’t let all the somethings derail your joy. Start finding YOUR fun this summer.