Sunday, October 07, 2007

In the End

The other day I was browsing at greeting cards and found the following

Everything will be okay
in the end.

if it's not okay,
it's not the end.

I did a big awwwwww! when I read it, and I grabbed the card. It must have appealed to my sweet, warm-loving, positive thinking side (YES, SHUT UP, I HAVE ONE) because I loved the sentiment. It will be okay. Maybe not today. But if not today, then later. I liked that thought, and felt like it was speaking right to me. Thank you, Universe! Message received.

It took about 2 minutes for my cynical, untrusting, non-believing side (YES, SHUT UP, I HAVE ONE OF THOSE TOO) to show up. Who says it will be okay? Lots of things find their end and aren't okay, and never will be. Where is the sentiment for those situations?

Cookies crumble all the time.
Sometimes all you can do is sweep them up
so you don't make an even bigger mess.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
Guess which one happened today?

Suddenly I found myself staring at the card with a kind of disdain I reserve for mince pie and cleaning bathrooms. I put it back on the rack.

I continued to putter around the store, but the card kept nagging at me as argued with myself. Why couldn't I allow myself to be positive? I really did like the card. But how disingenuous was a printed sentiment that didn't even acknowledge all the hurt and suffering that sometimes accompany people and events to the very end? Wouldn't I rather be truthful and cynical than blindly living in a Nirvanic state of denial?

Where does realism begin and hopefulness end?

Although I never came to any sort of conclusions when I was in the store, I went back and grabbed the card and bought it, thinking I had liked it when I first saw it, so there must be something to that. Maybe I'd just hold onto it until I figured out what it meant for me.

It came to me later, though I don't remember exactly when. Answers never come when I'm sitting and pondering. They always come when I'm in the middle of doing something else, like working or doing chores or driving here, there and everywhere. But sure enough, a logical explanation bubbled to the top of my brain and it made sense to me.

The problem wasn't the sentiment. The problem was the perspective.

We think of things being okay in a very fairy-tale, happily-ever-after kind of way. It's nice. It's sweet. It's neat and tidy with no loose strings. And it happens because of a specific chain of events that occur that bring us to this conclusion. Cinderella loses her slipper, the Prince finds it, then finds her, the shoe fits and they live happily ever after. Despite the fact that she really didn't have to do much of anything, at the end of the story, everything was okay.

But what if the Prince never found her? What if the shoe fit someone else? What if he lost interest and gave up the search? How would the story have ended? Would she have thrown herself off a cliff? Or spent the rest of her life bitter and sad? There would be no happy ending. It wouldn't be okay after all.

Or would it?

What I figured out was that this notion of things being okay has less to do with expectations and more to do with acceptance. Whether things are okay or not is really up to me. It has nothing to do with pages in a book or preconceived notions of how it is or was supposed to turn out. Life isn't that neat and tidy, and you can't cheat and read the last page first.

So I'm glad I got the card. It's sitting on my desk and is a great reminder of the power I have within myself to make things okay. Glass slippers and princes are for fairy tales, and there is no way I can achieve happily ever after. My goal, my journey, my path and my choices are focused on getting to that point in my life where everything is okay for me -- whatever okay may be -- in the end.

And if it's not okay,
it's not the end.


Anonymous said...

Spirit really does send these things. The question is whether we have "eyes to see and ears to hear". I'd go with your first instinct and try to trust it was given you. Look what it produced? Your words helped me through a hard time. Maybe everything isn't logical, but it sure can be blessing. Thanks!
Peace Tuna

Sniz said...

This was really profound.

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts:
1. I'm glad you bought the card. When something speaks to you like that, there's a reason.
2). On fairy tales: many people think that the ending where all ends well (except of course for the dragon, witch, etc) must be THE, and specifically The Only ending. You hit on something - it's more of a choose your own adventure story where they left out the other options. Maybe the prince gets diverted while hunting for the glass slipper lady, and has to slay a dragon, thus saving a town, where he of course falls for the most beautiful of maidens. If that happened, the tale would be about that and never mention Cinderella again. In fact, the tellers of the tale would probably turn her into a witch or something that distracted him from his true calling, and then we wouldn't care about her suffering or woe. Kind of like those stories (old and new) about Glenda and Elphaba.
3). once in a while (like once a year) a quote in my Franklin planner strikes me and I write it in a special place. This just happened recently and I just tried to find it online to get it exact, but it was by Emerson (and having just read through three pages of his quotes, I'm going to have to refresh my acquaintance with the very smart Ralph Waldo). It went something like "Live each day as if it will be the best of the year." For some reason it struck me because we ultimately have a tremendous ability to decide how we react to the events of the day and the people around us.

the boy