When I was 13 years old, my parents started talking about moving to a new city.
For nearly six years, we had been living on a rural road outside of the town of Owen Sound, Ontario. I had a charmed childhood. We had a rope swing and a tree house and a forest in our backyard. We could catch frogs during the day and watch fireflies during the night. I could walk for miles on the gravel roads without seeing another person.
I had an awesome best friend, and a hilarious youth group, and I was excited about starting high school.
And yet, when posed with the option of moving, I was strangely excited. I rolled it around in my brain for a while and still came to the conclusion of peace and positivity. When I talked to God about what He thought, I felt like He was excited too. He has great plans in a lot of places and this was the one we were choosing.
And, I had pictures in my head of what it would look like. I really knew almost nothing about Calgary, but I somehow knew that it would be an exciting place, and that I would make great friends. I could picture driving around the city in the sunshine and laughing with a besties. Every 13 year old girls' dream.
Yesterday I thought about that process and those visions again. My sister and I had gone downtown to check out the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Chinese Cultural Centre, and then went out for sushi and a fancy doughnut after. In the morning it snowed, and at noon it was sunny, and in the afternoon there was a blizzard, and then it cleared up for a sunny evening. As per Calgary style.
I love the feeling of knowing my way around a city. It gives me pride. I love being excited to go out and see what my city has to offer, be that a celebration of culture, a new business venture, or a musical performance. I love that whenever I go out, I can share a smile of commonality with a stranger or a laugh of joy amidst a celebration. I love that Calgary's rampant weather changes has become a source of incredulous laughter to me instead of frustration.
All of this starts becoming less about the actual city, and more about having a sense of ownership about where you are. Where are you? Are you grounded, or are you living in your head somewhere else? I know from experience that if we are always dreaming about somewhere else, we will never be happy where we are. And that's not a very joyful existence.
Like anything, it make take some practice, some warming up to. It takes practice to get out of your dream world. It takes practice to be intentional about really living where you are. It takes practice to be okay with the things you don't initially like.
But that's life right?
And when we do put in that effort, when we practice, when we're intentional, when we determine to be joyful despite the unenjoyable bits, when we warm up...
Isn't it great? Isn't it beautiful?
Now you may feel I've gotten a little off track here. Is she talking about Calgary? Is she talking about family or location? Life in general? What!?
Well all are applicable I guess.
The point is, to find the beauty in any space and time of life, we have to commit to searching for that beauty. Because lets be honest, ugly stuff is rampant. And persistent. And painful. Choosing to live in a future dream world often seems like the best solution. "When I finally get there...then I will be happy". But what about when you do finally get there? Life, being life, still has its tough parts. And now you've trained yourself to just keep looking forward. What about right now? Can it really be living if you decide that right now isn't good enough?
I don't want to rob myself of this day.
I don't want to remove myself from the reality I am currently in to live in a fictitious projection.
How can I put in every effort to be here now? Messy, dreary, painful, joyful, peaceful, hilarious, crystal-clear, now.