Does anyone look forward to it? Some of the very best things that happen to us can only happen through change. Yet I drag my feet all the way from the known to the unknown.
Take Gus. He is the most lovely, sweet-hearted, adorable little baby (big horse) I know. But it’s time for change. He needs to begin his journey into responsible adulthood, but he needs to do it with someone better qualified to help him make that transition. Once the trainer has spent some time introducing him to adult behavior, then we can work on it together. That future where we build a relationship that includes riding? That’s change I’m excited about. And still I’m dragging my feet to the impending transition—a transition to something great.
Take Vern’s new job. We’re only moving three hours away to one of the very most beautiful settings in Colorado. He will be outside doing work he enjoys. The work I’m doing can happen anywhere. My friends are close enough to visit. Especially because I’ll be visiting Gus down at the trainer’s (which is only 10 minutes from where we live now, sigh). It’s an amazing change and such a wonderful opportunity. I’m certain we’re going to love it. I’m dragging my feet so hard.
I’ve been reading a book my brother gave me, Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. To paraphrase Gilbert, he says we envision a future and our brains see it as reality. Nearly five years ago, when my then-husband, said he didn’t want to be married anymore, I was devastated. The future I had pictured lay shattered before me in pieces too small to recognize. Where had I been in that future? My identity had been part of that vision so pulverized that it was now drifting particles of sand. My imagined reality turned formless.
I knew I would eventually feel better and it’s hard to pinpoint when that began. Tentative visions of a future would worm their way into my mind. I tested them out until some seemed like versions of a reality I was willing to try. It seemed sudden, although it was slow and took years, but I’m happy. Incredibly happy.
So, change. The thing is that, according to Gilbert, one of the reasons we become unhappy in the present is that the vision of the future we imagined is always perfect. Even when we try to add in things that might be difficult to manage, we make them manageable. The hard things aren’t that hard. The bad details, even when we try to account for them, just aren’t the same as when real challenges emerge in our present-day moments. That’s my long paraphrase of Gilbert’s idea that our actual experiences can never match the perfect future we imagined. Of course we’re dissatisfied at some level. Our consciousness envisions the ideal.
I think we’re heading for the ideal in just a few weeks. I’m dragging my feet every step of the way. And I can’t wait to report happiness (still) from the other side.