No one ever promised us that life would always be easy. Or if someone did, they lied. Because sometimes, no matter what we do, life is just plain hard. And the older I get, the more I believe that the wisest thing to do is to simply accept that fact.
I read recently (I’d quote the source, but of course I can’t remember it) that one of the main sources of our frustration is the difference between what we expected and what we actually get. That really resonated with me, because I’ve found that almost every time I’m frustrated and upset, it’s because the situation I find myself in is not the situation I was hoping for or expecting. And it’s the gap between what I had anticipated and the reality of what actually occurred that often makes me feel so upset. In other words, the more I think about “what should have been,” the more disappointed and bitter I become.
One way to ward off that frustration would be to simply stop planning or hoping for good things in our lives, because then we wouldn’t be disappointed when those good things didn’t actually materialize. That philosophy might guarantee we’re never going to be disappointed again, (if you don’t ever plan that dream vacation, you never have to worry about it getting cancelled) but who wants to live like that? I sure don’t.
I think, perhaps, that the key is to simply remember that nothing in this world is ever guaranteed, and that sometimes even our best-laid plans are going to veer wildly off course. Challenges we never saw coming are going to pop up when we least expect them, and often when we’re least prepared to cope with them. And when that happens, it’s natural to be upset and disappointed, at least for a while. But eventually, we have to let go of our frustration and focus on dealing with the situation at hand.
My husband and I didn’t plan on spending our anniversary at the Emergency Room a mere five days after what was supposed to be a simple surgery, but we did. And I didn’t plan on sitting at his bedside in the hospital for nine days after that either. At first, I was bitter because this was not “how things were supposed to be.” But eventually, I managed to let go of my frustration and simply accept what was. My husband was in a good hospital, getting good medical care, and he was slowly but surely improving. I was allowed to be with him, which wasn’t the case for hospital patients when the pandemic first hit. I was even allowed to bring him food, which tasted a lot better than what the hospital cafeteria sent up. In other words, I had reasons to be grateful, once I was willing to let go of my expectations and actually see them.
And the fact that life can be unexpectedly hard isn’t the only thing I accept. I also accept, and even plan on, the fact that life can also be quite good. Which is why I have every intention of making a dinner reservation at a very nice restaurant when next year’s anniversary rolls around, and I might even look into booking a weekend getaway as well. That celebration may not actually happen, but I’m hoping it will, and that hope is enough for me.