Always Greener: Extended Edition

Ever feel like you’re contending with / against your own life?

Everything’s a struggle, even when it doesn’t have to be.

Someone at work takes a notion not to like you. Your boss makes demands of you (he calls them “challenges”; you call them “soul suckers”). Family or friends know what’s best for you, even when they don’t. Especially when they don’t. You seem to live life in a hamster wheel. Dreams wither. You’re your own worst enemy.

Just as you’re the hero of your own story, you’re the villain in someone else’s. Or, if not the villain, at least the antagonist. Some folks enter your life to knock of your rough edges and help you grow stronger. In turn, you’re the sandpaper and fertilizer to others. (Take that statement as you will.)

Someone once wisely said there should be a statute of limitations on blaming our screwed-up lives on our parents.

Agreed. At some point, we have to stand on our own, look around, decide who and what we want to be, where we want to go, and shed all the crap that keeps us from getting there. If we don’t achieve our goals, let it not be said we blamed others and never really strove for the prize.

But, truth be told, some people do seem to exist simply to crush the dreams right out of us. How much joy can there be for someone who must always be right or in control? They often only see the bleakness in life, or all the bad possibilities, so they use their words, attitudes, and actions to cripple anyone else who might dare leap despite the risk. Well, maybe not leap. Maybe the optimist dares build a bridge that the pessimist refuses to cross. After all, it might collapse. And how dare anyone ignore or usurp the control he’s trying to wield? How dare they step beyond that boundary and live and think and dream for themselves?

Respect or control?

Whether they realize or acknowledge it, everyone wants to be respected. It’s not a matter of pride, but of common decency among fellow human beings. It’s nigh inherent in freedom-loving souls. I live my life, you live yours, we respect one another’s boundaries, and one need not dominate the other.

But what happens when someone’s negative attitude affects the group? Nothing’s ever done right. No one else can do it as well as that person. If one small hiccup occurs in the plans, then might as well scrap the whole day.

If anyone does something differently, then they’re usurping that person’s perceived authority, or they’re just ignoring them. While that may be true in some cases, many times the control-addict is not allowing anyone else to think differently, approach a problem or situation differently, or be in any way independent of the controller

Kinda reminds me of a totalitarian government, one which decides for its citizens what is acceptable or forbidden, what is right or wrong, who will live and who will die — but what is that government’s criteria for morality?

It’s a way to keep the people on edge and subservient, afraid to do anything that might rouse the ire of the monolithic motherland that can destroy them because today she’s feeling put-upon, threatened, or out of sorts.

This kind of thinking and behavior gorges the ego, and creates strife where none need exist.

So, like me, are you at war with your life and striving to take back control that’s been scattered to others who shouldn’t have that much power over you?

Or are you trying to exert control over everyone at work or at home, or elsewhere in your life, and you just need to let them be?

Once we get this sorted out, we’ll be much happier, you and I.

Well, perhaps not happier, but more content, more relaxed, able to see the world clearly and weather whatever life sends our way.

The grass isn’t always greener elsewhere. We need to tend to our own sod. Maybe the life we’ve always wanted is in our own backyard.

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Always Greener

March 2012, c EE
March 2012, c EE

We work all week so we can rest for a couple days. We scurry through chores so we can sit down and enjoy a moment of quiet, watching TV, reading a book, playing a computer game, solving a puzzle. We dream about winning a million dollars, retiring from a decades-old job, having more time, doing only what we love.

The grass is always greener. Our lives are always better. In some rosy far-off paradise in the future, everything will go our way and we’ll have everything we want.

In your mind, how does that future look? Who will be there? How will you spend your time? What does happiness look like?

In the present, I’ve caught myself complaining about things I once loved but now cause my jaw to clench. They chase away sleep and inspire rants.

Am I someone who is above being pleased? Never satisfied, plagued by perfectionism or idealism or just plain I-want-more-ism?

Maybe that’s not it.

Yeah, I’m like ‘most everyone — I dream of that nebulous someday — but what if the source of angst and complaint is something fixable? Not a bad attitude and “it’s all about me”, but something more tangible?

I’m reminded of a story told by Philip Yancey: He once served as the managing editor of a magazine, a job he could do but one that robbed his sleep, stressed him, and took away from his writing time. So, after trying and praying and plodding onward, he quit. Best decision. Now he could sleep.

A while back, I left a long-time job, and suddenly I could sleep. When I woke, I was rested.

Now, the sleep-thief is back. I’m doing a job for which I’m perfectly fitted, skill-wise, but temperamentally, not so much. The perfectionist in me expects more of others than they may be able or willing to give.

Do I quit?

Or do I alter my approach?

Do I change myself but still quit?

I’ll let you know.