My Life Doesn't Look Like The Pictures On The Box

Mort Morford


© Copyright 2023 by Mort Morford

Photo by Pixabay.
 Photo by Pixabay.

My life doesn’t look like the picture on the box

For some reason, when our lives reach the number of years that end in zeroes, many, if not most of us have the ever-increasing sense that our lives are not turning out the way we thought they would.

That book never got written, that career never coalesced, that relationship that glowed like it would flame on forever, didn’t.

It’s not regret exactly, but it’s in the neighborhood.

There a sense that life did not take us where we thought it would.

From health issues to career stalls, to things we did achieve, only to realize that we didn’t want them so much after all, life is dense with things, events, even achievements that, in the barren light of those zero-ending decades, didn’t feel worth what we put into them.

And, for most of us, what we put into them was the hours and muscle and visions and energy that we had. And, to a large degree, that was all we had.

As those years accumulate, we realize that we gave our lives to things that never really mattered. We were just told that they did.

And hoped that they did.

But as we reflect, most of us find that friends, family, even our own bodies betray us.

Out time floats away like a distant cloud and the residue we hold in our hands, or in our pulsing memories seems paltry, even by the most basic standards.

And once upon a time, we had high standards, and ideals, and vision, energy and passion that would, so some of us thought, change the world.

As those zeroes accumulate, we can’t even change ourselves. Everything, from what we have for breakfast to the clothes we wear has become a habit: a habit larger than ourselves, something we find ourselves within, confined by and even defined by.

We are literally made up of the things we do and say and hold around us.

We have our favorite places, foods, songs and people. And as we discover in those coalescing years, they hold us back as much as they comfort or release us.

Nothing lasts forever”, we might tell ourselves. And we might believe it, or imagine that we know it, but we never really know it until it is too late, or it doesn’t matter any more, or in those final, dreadful words, it is gone forever.

Ending well” is a goal that gains solidity as the years go by. But what does that even mean?

It turns out that the means that most of us used to measure a life well-lived mean less and less as the years go by.

And what does matter more is the fragile, even unmeasurable things like still being able to learn and try new things. Being willing to try, and fail, or even look foolish, or even being the only one to do something is, perhaps, of more worth than any online purchase beyond our credit limit.

Appreciating where we are, by ourselves, with people we know or people we don’t, or in the company of animals we care for, is for most of us, an indicator of a life well-lived.

And for most of us, it is a simple as this. Being grateful for what we have and who we are with is as much, or even more, than most of us could ask for.

Finding ourselves known, and welcome is a gift more rare and fragile with each passing year. Or month. Or hour.

I’ve often wondered why people get married.

Is it out of loneliness, desperation, fear of being alone or some fantasized hope that we are somehow “completed” by another person?

The Proverbs tell us that a braided rope will not be easily broken, but also that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Both are true of course, but all too often what we imagine to be the first becomes the second.

Few things are more dangerous than an embittered idealist.

And we are in an era where ideals and dreams and beliefs in almost anything, from progress to oneness to peace within ourselves, with others and with our natural world has become a benchmark of naivete, if not pure foolishness.

We are more inclined as well as equipped and motivated to destroy each other than ever before inhuman history. And many of us seem to be proud of that fact.

We may not have anything we are willing to fight for, but on our streets and on our borders, and even within many of our homes, we are more than willing to fight, or at least kill, for any imagined threat or offense.

Marriage and neighborliness, and perhaps our careers, or at least our callings, are the ultimate illusion, if not mirage, we see in the distance and chase through-out our lives.

Some of us, I have heard, even reach what we thought we wanted, but there is always a further vision, and what we hold in our hands, compared to the glimmer in the distance, never seems to be enough.

The ultimate “faith” in the past century or two has been in “tomorrow” – the world, the culture, the relationship, even the physical body we will have “someday” if only we “believed”, “imagined” or “hoped” for.

We “create our own reality” we have been told, and perhaps, to a degree few of us could imagine, that is true, but many of us find ourselves in a swirl we did not create and cannot see our way out of.

Histories and personal legacies are made from what we build and compile together. A multi-braided rope is far stronger than a single strand. But becoming more than a single strand is far more difficult than most us could have imagined.

Maybe that’s why we need the picture on the box. But it turns out that there is more than one box to look at.

There is not much that is dramatic about living in peace. Living among those we know, and trust, and maybe even love, is not always enticing, but at some point we realize that living in peace is not only desirable, but the only way to life itself.

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