My kids are getting ready to go back to school. As a young mother, I eagerly anticipated fall for this very reason! But now that my sons are in college, and only sometimes home in the summer, I am cherishing these fleeting summer days. This summer, all three have been together here at the lake for the first time in five years! I am mindful that at 24, 22, and 21 years old, they may not have another season like this for a very long time, if ever again. As one goes off to grad school, another for a year abroad, and my youngest to his new off-campus apartment with all that entails, excitement and anticipation fill our conversations. With many dreams realized, an endless stream of possibilities are awaiting exploration. Blessings counted. A change of season, a new chapter. I love this story!
But a change of season also can bring disappointment. Beyond empty nests and fewer faces at the dinner table, it can focus our attention on what hasn't changed in our lives and what we might have endured in our past.
It's easy to get stuck in the past. Perhaps you've suffered a setback, experienced a rejection, or had your hopes and dreams dashed. You might be disappointed in a relationship, your work, or your family life. Perhaps your high expectations have not been met. Perhaps things just haven't gone as planned.
Some people have a talent for bouncing back from difficult experiences, and I have been inspired by them since I was young. I have taught my children to look at adversity, disappointment and challenge from the perspective of, "Wow didn't see that one coming. Now isn't this interesting... what gift is this, really?" Nothing is good or bad, it simply IS. How I react is my choice. If I choose disappointment, I quickly make a better choice. I think it might be more difficult to learn this response as an adult, but it can be done. Practice makes perfect, eventually...
Many people lack the resilience to courageously (as I say) "chin up and boobies out" carry on after a disappointment. I need to be remember to be sensitive to that tendency if not within my self or my children, in acknowledgment of humanity's collective and sometimes heart-wrenching experience of waking up to our personal power and ability to intuit choices on behalf of our highest good. I need to remember to have patience and compassion for those who feel victimized by life.
I hate to disappoint you... but I can be a little impatient with the "poor-me" crowd. I'm working on that. But lets all work together...
I think a good first step is to understand the forces that drive disappointment in our modern culture. One is consumerism. The marketplace needs us to think we deserve and therefore must have all the toys, treasures, and pleasures we can get. People and nations have accumulated huge personal and collective debts as they have tried to have it all, all at one time, now, even when they can't afford it.
I think another thing that drives disappointment is unrealistic expectations about who we can be and what we can achieve. These are often fed by the media with its emphasis on success stories, skinny blondes and reality?shows. Our goals are imposed upon us rather than created by us. When we struggle and still fail, we think there is something wrong with us, when it could be that we just took on someone else's dream, some one else's reality. In fact, we may not even have the gifts and talents for a particular choice! It may not be the best time in our lives, or our karma to travel a different path. And when we don't get where we think we should be, we can hit bottom...
But, here's the good part: Our disappointments are blessings if we can see them as a starting point for fulfillment. We can, through divine grace and our own diligence and creativity, change the way we live and the choices we make. Here are a few suggestions:
Ask yourself, what am I disappointed about? Name your disappointments, and then let them go. Do not keep replaying them over and over in your mind. If necessary, forgive someone who has hurt or disappointed you. Also, forgive yourself for being disappointed.
Release your disappointment. Find a stone that signifies your disappointment (it can be as large as you want) and throw it in a pond, or river, or ocean. Or, make a list of disappointments on a piece of paper and then burn the paper in a bowl; as you watch the smoke going up, ask the God/Goddess of your experience to help you release these particular disappointments.
Count your blessings and know in your heart that you have more than enough. See your wealth not in terms of outward possessions but in terms of the spiritual intangibles of faith, hope, and love.
Don't allow your ideas about what should or could happen to determine whether you feel happy or sad. Remember, the future is the domain of the Creator. Stay in the present. Now, chin up, boobies out, carry on!
May you be blessed!
The photo is of Mt. Washington. Snow on the peak, my favorite view as I drove my children to school on fall days. Seasons changing, back to school, warm apple pie at the end of the day...