I find the following to be profoundly true.
Life is easily simplified as the continuous struggle inside of the disparity between our expectations or desires and reality.
Struggling to accept what is there and when it is drastically contrary to what we expect or want. The Kübler-Ross model stages of grief articulate this point clearly. Often when something happens in our lives that we simply cannot believe, we try exhaust every avenue or possibility that we can take advantage of to make it not true. Personally, my bouts of depression about 5 years ago felt very connected to this very concept. As if my mind was stuck in a loop asking the universe, “why?” with no response. Unable to shift my paradigm, all I would need is a voice to speak back anything, and the ringing in my ears would be silenced.
Albert Camus speaks about this meaningless “absurdity” from a very large, universal context, but I want to zoom the context into a much more specific one, love. One of the points of contact between us all. Some of the most painful heartbreak is when you are wrong about someone. And the longer you’ve known them, the the worse it is. Your expectations or hope for what they are/were, is far from the truth that exists. Many times this happens because we are naive, we have our heads buried in the sand. We don’t even acknowledge the reality before us. This is exactly why, ignorance is considered bliss. By closing our eyes to reality, we can make it to anything we want.
Naturally, as a way of fighting back against the canyon wide gap between our expectations and reality, we often find ourselves attempting to alter those around us. Grasping at the laws of power, moving and interacting with people in our lives like chess pieces. For me, subtle manipulation became my only hope, my way out, my path to finally experience this thing called happiness, because I would finally receive what I desired, because I would force it to happen. Somethings, just simply cannot be forced. Fun, laughter, peace, and love to name a few, but especially love.
If you’re not careful, and you grip and life with these clenched hands of coercion, you will always be disappointed, you will only love the manufactured image in your head of that person which isn’t them at all. This coercion will end up undermining it all and becoming a smokescreen that will cut right between two people attempting to find true intimacy. We might end up setting expectations for them that they would never fulfill. Many times those expectations are just projections of our own personality. That isn’t love. Love requires a province of free will. But let’s be honest, it’s much easier to coerce then to let the reigns go and allowing the absurd abyss to move on its own. This is a notch to why I would consider myself an open theist, but that is a different post for another day.
This is also directly connected to Friedrich Nietzsche and why he believes that “hope prolongs the suffering”. Hope to wait, to hold on, to keep your teeth clenched, but the best thing I have found is to simply let things go and accept the chasm between my desires and reality. Hope is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it can be the rock keeping you against a hard place. The struggle will always be there until we reach that point of acceptance. Nothing though, has ever resolved this painful struggle for myself until I simply say, “Ok.” Once you finally accept that and let some of the expectations and desires go, you can begin to create new ones that are far closer to the reality you live in. Sometimes even my own desires need to be raked over the fire to be assessed if they are worth it. Like a breath of fresh air, you can find things are much more refreshing once this crowded house is cleaned out.