We all seem to be searching for that proverbial happy ending. The truth of the matter is, life is not a fairy tale. At times it resembles a romantic comedy, others a horror flick. Other times still it may appear like a long and drawn out documentary where you almost feel the need to check your own pulse. Regardless of genre, real life rarely ties up all its loose ends before the closing credits.
A common expression reminds us that it's not the destination but the journey that is important. Naturally I have always understood the fundamental concept, but oddly, I think now for the first time I finally get it. As in, really get it.
When I decided to address this topic my initial intent was conveying that happy endings don't just happen. We must produce them. Each life is far more than any particular moment; it is greater still than the sum of its parts because more valuable than the experiences themselves are our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. How we perceive life will effect how we live it.
Yet upon further examination I pondered, “what is a happy ending?” For unlike a book with tangible parameters--a concise beginning and end--our lives are always in a state of metamorphosis, constantly changing and evolving. Is a happy ending judged merely by the state of our existence as we approach our final moments? Surely that is not what people spend their lives striving, worrying, and fighting so hard to achieve. Perhaps we should aspire for happy endings to our many different chapters, as opposed to narrowing our focus on the entire volume.
As happiness waxes and wanes throughout our life's story, some chapters will end well while others will not. It is the lessons we take from one chapter to help improve the next that provides a good and worthy script; a script that combined with the inevitable tribulations brims with many happy endings.
A great number of us spend far too much of our lifetime working toward a certain goal. Yet once reached and many years invested, then what? Either we stagnate on a disappointing plateau, or we set a new goal. This pattern accomplishes little more than to produce a vicious cycle. Like a dog chasing it's tail, you are constantly moving but never really getting anywhere. I certainly do not suggest that we avoid setting goals for ourselves, rather that they not become our primary objective. Sadly, people often get so focused on their accomplishments that all other facets of life become neglected. In our perpetual quest for happy endings it seems much of the time we overlook the greater meaning.
We should enjoy life like we do a good book that is thoroughly engrossing and rewarding to read. Imagine how the words come together painting a picture in your mind. You instinctively savor the images they conjure and the feelings they evoke. Obviously, it would be counterproductive to hurriedly skim the text in a race to reach your goal of getting to the end. The integrity of the story would be lost, negating the very reason to read it in the first place. One must appreciate the rich details and depth of character development in order to derive the significance of that very last sentence for it is irrelevant without the hundreds of pages preceding it. Likewise, in life, profundity does not rise from mediocrity.
Instead of considering my ailing marriage as a grievous conclusion to a major chapter, I am choosing to regard it as an opportunity for a happy beginning in the next installment. While I certainly don't know what direction my storyline will take, perhaps these past few years were merely preparation for the next chapter. Maybe my future chapters have even greater things in store than the tale I had envisioned. Maybe--just maybe--this unfortunate circumstance is truly a happy ending in disguise.