The years I spent making God laugh
A famous quote by Woody Allen reads: "if you wanna make God laugh, tell him about your plans." I think this is a quote you don't fully understand until that moment when you realize that God has already been laughing--laughing that we think we know better, that we fight so hard for things that aren't good for us, and in a more gentle way, with knowledge that he has unimaginably prosperous plans for us as soon as we are willing to listen.
It's my belief that a lot of the life plans we make are a part of our conditioning. We are supposed to follow some version x, y, z path following our high school graduation. We are supposed to, by the time we've reached a certain age, have a comfortable high five-figure or six-figure job with stock options and health insurance. We are supposed to put our expensive college degree to good use even it means slaving through uninspired office work day after day. We are supposed to aim for the next promotion, the next bonus and the next slightly larger paycheck that will tell us we are doing everything right. Aren't we?
Most of these things are all well and good. There is certainly nothing disadvantageous about company-sponsored health insurance or aiming for something better. We should be always be aiming for better in our personal and professional lives. But I think "better" in it's most authentic sense isn't always what we expect it to be or maybe not even what we hope it might be.
I've come to this conclusion after a number of post-graduate years of always thinking about the "better" and a years+ worth of eye-opening travel that showed me how limitless the possibilities actually are. And still, even after realizing that there are countless ways we can fill up the days, that make up the years, that make up our life , I still took awhile to actually apply such a finding to my own mindset about what to spend the rest of my life pursuing. While I was able to easily acknowledge that there were endless options available to me, I still wasn't at the point where I was going to pursue one of the less conventional options that admittedly hadn't been engrained into me as a version of "success" always spoken about in white-collar America. Post traveling I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my life, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I was still somehow going to ascend the corporate ladder and secure that job that would secretly make others envious. It didn't really excite me or inspire me in any significant way, but I was supposed to, and I could survive for awhile on other people's praise of my successful decision making, so why not?
(**disclaimer: I know for some people this is inspiring and it is what they want. In those instances, keep on keeping on, lucky soul).
It took a rather insignificant occurrence, the passing words of an acquaintance for everything to click--I didn't have to do that. In fact, I didn't want to do that. So why not find something else to do that I found infinitely more inspiring? In recent weeks I've finally come to the point where I'm able to admit to myself that a corner office in a fancy sky rise office building in the heart of a bustling, hip, busy city might not be in the cards for me this time around. And I'm ok with that. Because maybe a more "boutique" option--spending weeks on the road to photograph the tops of mountains and bottoms of oceans, or making proposals to the corporate social responsibility team of major corporations are more aligned with my interest and my talents (more on both of these later).
It's been a pretty small window of time that I've adjusted to this new mindset, allowing myself to be content with the way things are and no longer feeling the need to impress people with my career progression. But it's undeniably liberating, and in the weeks since I finally became secure with my new mindset towards life, I've felt an underlying in-dismissible joy stemming from the knowledge that I have unlimited options, that I can let go of tension-causing control and simply live. I think I read somewhere one time that "there is overwhelming evidence that things will likely work out in your favor." I believe that.
So I've developed a new formula for creating a life I want to live. Rather than stressing over and meticulously planning ways I can achieve the life I want to live in the future, I've started finding ways to enjoy my life in the present, filling as much time as is reasonable every day with something adventurous, stimulating or inspiring that might otherwise be overlooked when the daily to-do list begins tedious or overwhelming.
For example, I've taken an avid interest in time-lapse sunset photography. It's hard not to go to bed happy when you sit and watch a beautiful sunset every night.
A few weekends ago, I set out to climb Long's Peak with my sister, arguably the most difficult 14er to climb in the Colorado portion of the Rocky Mountain range. It was hard, but literally made us feel like you were on top of the world (because we actually kind of were).
This coming week I'll be signing up for some freediving classes at the local dive shop, Denver Divers (yes, this exists even though there is no ocean even remotely close).
And, I've started attending poetry open mic nights, and one of these days I'll get up and actually read something I've scribbled down over the years. Maybe public speaking skills will come in handy someday.
I've spent more time exercising, being outdoors and meditating and most importantly listening for life's whisperings that I'm supposed to hear, that I'm supposed to spend my next foreseeable years of life pursuing.
Much to my delight, my newfound "order in the chaos" attitude towards life has started to allow things to fall into place. I've had the most success I've ever seen supporting myself almost entirely as a self-employed freelancer/contractor. I enjoy sitting down to work everyday (of course, the fact that it's either outdoors or at home makes it easier to enjoy), and first the first time since finishing school in 2012, I feel like I'm putting my career effort towards things that matter--not only things that benefit me, but will at some point in the future benefit at least a small corner of the world.
God is probably still laughing at me. Or at least chuckling. Because I'm still to some extent making plans. (A house in Boulder maybe? A coffee shop in Bali anyone?) This is a part of human nature and not entirely a bad thing. But I like to think he's now offering a Buddha's chuckle, happy that I'm finally making the effort to listen. And try. And probably make some more mistakes. But that's life. I'm hopeful that in the end we (meaning me and God) can look back fondly and laugh (kindly) at the years that I spent making him laugh.
In the meantime I'll keep reminding myself every morning that "life is what happens when we're busy making other plans."