I believe that life is a struggle. I hear people comparing life to a journey but to me, a “journey” implies a purpose, pleasureful adventure, or at the very least: willful participation.
When I envision someone embarking on a journey I see them standing at the foot of a path, wide-eyed with wonder and anticipation. They are prepared with a bag that will magically provide them with anything they may need. They don’t necessarily know where their journey will take them, but they can’t wait to find out!
Now, when I picture myself standing at the foot of the path I see someone ambivalent at best, desperately begging for a map and inappropriately equipped with something like a snorkel.
I want to believe that life is a journey, but it’s hard to maintain that level of enthusiasm and optimism with anything in life. Most days, I can identify my core beliefs. Things like: the power of love and compassion is insurmountable, that the person I am is more important than the job I do, and in doing my best – which may look different each day depending on the circumstances.
But as often as I am able to identify and tout these beliefs to myself and others, I am equally likely to find myself in a death roll between what I want to believe is true and what feels much more real.
Therefore, I believe in the power of compassion and love but I struggle to apply that belief to my feelings towards people who hurt children, shamelessly greedy CEOs and even to my own body.
I believe that the person I am is more important than the job I do, but when asked what it is that I do I have to force myself to reply, “substitute teacher” without adding the caveat, “but I also do stand-up comedy and I have a masters degree from an Ivy League school and one day I want to write a screenplay.”
I believe in doing my best, but during those times when doing my best is avoiding eye contact with a sink full of dirty dishes and instead opting for a mystery and a nap, I can’t help but feel guilty and unworthy. Especially when you throw in the sleeve of Fig Newtons.
So what do I do? Do I beat myself up because I can’t maintain my belief system to its ideal? Sometimes, yes.
But what I want to do, what I try to do is embrace the struggle. I try to accept and expect that I will always have times when I will struggle with the things that are worth believing in. And knowing me, I will probably struggle with embracing the struggle. Sigh.
For the most part, I’m glad that I struggle with these lofty ideals because they are worth believing in. And if I’m striving for a more evolved belief system, then I can’t help but think that I’m on the right path, or dare I say…journey.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.