Illusions Die Hard

<April 8/09>

A couple of times lately, while out on my daily walk, I’ve gone by houses that typify what I once upon a time thought of as “the perfect house.” For me, in the old, old days, a perfect house was white and had green shutters. I was certain that the first house I ever bought would have shutters – preferably green ones.

Needless to say, the house my (then) husband and I bought not only didn’t have shutters – green or otherwise – it was not located where we intended it to be, nor was it on the size of property we’d had in mind. For sure, it all turned out much, much better than we could ever have anticipated! We spent 15 (mostly) happy years there, had our children there, and were gratified at how great a place it was to raise children. School within easy walking distance, lots of other young couples with similarly young families – and for me, lots of other women who’d chosen, as I had, to “stay home” with young children.

So much for the “dream home,” hmm?

It never goes the way we plan – house-buying, parenthood, marriage – you name it. Life is liberally sprinkled with unexpected detours of all kinds. Shocks, surprises, tragedies; unexpected joys & triumphs, too!

I think lots of us think we can lay out our lives like a road map & plot out a careful route for ourselves.

It’s a fun thought, I guess – but I wonder if it might be better if we were taught from childhood on that life is not a fairy tale, money will not necessarily make us happy or solve each & every problem that comes along & that hard as we may try, illness, death & divorce are liable to visit every one of us in one form or another.

Maybe we could teach our children about honesty – the worth of a good conscience – resilience – integrity – concern for our fellow humans (fellow tribe members, if you like, hmm?) – how to live “one day at a time” – the joys of meaningful work – & the power of a strong gratitude practice (I recall reading somewhere once that religion, really, at bottom, is about gratitude).

Maybe we’d all deal better with all the unexpected stuff that inevitably comes our way if we let the illusions fall away – the ones about money & celebrity & “perfect families” & other similar bits of nonsense that our culture shoves at us right from birth on.

If we learned instead from Day 1 that this amazing Earth/Universe that gives birth to us has given us into a story and a Mystery & adventure that is far, far bigger than our own little selves…well…wouldn’t that be grand?

Illusions die hard – but since they don’t serve us at all well, why don’t we just retire them & get on with what’s really real instead?

Janet

p.s. on Feb. 14/11 - one illusion we have is that we live in a democracy. Someone once said “The most serious threat to democracy is the notion that it has already been achieved.” Lots of other great quotations - oodles & oodles of them - here

p.p.s. Speaking of illusions about our governments, here is what Frank Zappa had to say about it: “Government is the Entertainment Division of the military-industrial complex.” Yikes.......