Yes, I am capable of writing a post for which you do not require a box of Kleenex. And I will demonstrate, although this one started with me getting very teary eyed over a wedding, and then being reminded of something that I need, that my boys need, and I suspect many need to be reminded of. Don’t worry, we’re walking through a beautiful park on a very sunny day with this one…and yes, it has to do with happiness, wellness, and a good life.
The kinds of conversations and subjects I often end up with can get pretty serious…and ok, heavy at times…but in a good way. Like the complexity involving choices in life, and the reasons behind them: fascinating stuff, endlessly debatable, but also, as I was reminded again today, surprisingly simple.
So let’s start with relationships. Most couples getting engaged or married typically offer a wide range of reasons to explain why they chose a particular person: “Oh, we’re so in love…oh we have everything in common and are best of friends. Oh we work really well together and want all the same things, including 2 children and five bedrooms and a two car garage. Oh and we have the same beliefs, and the same hobbies, and we do everything together, and he/she is the trustworthy, hardworking, reliable partner that mom and dad approve of.”
Now on to work and professional stuff. Most people starting new jobs or taking on various hobbies and projects usually explain they are looking to increase their income right away, make a strategic career move that will lead to an eventual increase in income via a promotion, or create the foundation for a small business that will again increase their income and offer more flexibility. Ok, there are also those who are genuinely interested in opportunities for learning and being able to enhance their skills just so they can contribute more (as opposed to just being paid more). But pretty much everyone seems to mention money, security, stability, health and retirement benefits.
Of course, whatever works for each of us is whatever works for each of us. So who is anyone to judge anyone else? Problem is, as a parent for example, you have to provide your kids with some explanation as to why they have to pay attention in math class when their passion is to draw (my teenager), or vice versa (not my teenager). Do I only tell my kids about the practicalities in life, and steer them towards a solid education, leading to a solid career, leading to a solid life? Do I want a “solid” life? Do you? I kinda want a happy one, as in rewarding and authentic. But of course, I still want to make the right choices, and very much want my kids to make the right choices. I don’t want my boys to end up frustrated and struggling to make ends meet, which is why I confess when I hear my son saying he wants to be an artist, it scares the hell out of me.
Ok, so what was I reminded of tonight? Well, I was reminded of what it’s all about…you know, happiness, authenticity, wellness…what the title says: the best “us” and the best for us. Even if it leads to challenges, even if to be with someone or pursue a particular passion involves more work, making compromises, and accepting both uncertainty and discomfort on many levels.
Robert Irvine said it when he explained why he is with the woman he married recently. And yes, it was their wedding I watched. He said it simply…this woman represents the best part of him, and she also brings out the best in him.
It was right then that I turned to my son and said: “There…that’s the reason. This is why you marry someone. This is why your art is the right thing, why my writing is the right thing. Not because we’re guaranteed success at it, not because it’s easy, or we don’t make mistakes or struggle, but because when we’re with someone who truly fits, when you draw and when I write, we get to be our best selves, and keep bringing out the best in ourselves”.
So yeah, it’s pretty simple.
Yes, I too, like everyone else, including my kids one day, have to create an income, and must do our best to address practicalities. Who knows, I might publish the books I’m working on, or not. I hope I do, and I hope that one day my son will be a famous artist. Regardless, I know that all will be well…real, happy, and well. But if he ever comes to me wanting to marry a girl because they’re so in-love, are best friends, have everything in common, and do everything together…yet fails to tell me she represents the best part of him, and brings out the best in him, I am NOT going to that wedding.
In the meantime, I will keep reminding myself and my boys of the simple truth behind connecting with what is best in each of us, and what brings out the best in each of us.
Oh, and as of tonight, my son wanting to be an artist no longer scares me. It makes me smile.
(See, I told you there would be no need for Kleenex this time)