“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin…..But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” ~Alfred Souza~
From the professor’s desk:
I often hear students refer to life after college as “the real world.” It’s tempting to think of periods in our lives as interludes from reality, knowing that things will change at some point in the near (or far) future. But we need to be careful of a phenomenon known as “destination addiction.”
Destination addiction is the idea that happiness is a future time and place, when we have completed some accomplishment we have set for ourselves. If you are preoccupied with the idea that your life will be better after you lose 20 pounds, or find love, or get promoted at work, you may be suffering from destination addiction.
And yes, I mean “suffering.”
Destination addiction prevents us from being happy today, from being “in the moment,” from finding the good in the time and place we’re in. It leads to regrets about not valuing certain periods in our life, while we were experiencing them.
My mother just passed away. The last couple of weeks were tough on our family, as her dying process ran its course. She was in hospital at first, then moved to a hospice house, where she declined a little more every day. We were all with her when the end came, and I’m so glad my family could be together for that important moment. It’s been very hard, but at the same time, I tried to savor every moment with my family, and those last moments with my mom, even when she was no longer conscious. I held her hand, kissed her, and told her “I love you” a million times, even when I wasn’t sure she could hear or understand me.
All of my family members were giving up something to be there – we were away from our jobs, our friends, and everything “normal” to us. It would have been easy to think of this time as an “interlude,” after which things would return to normal. But they won’t. There’s a new normal now, one where my mother isn’t physically present. We have to be resilient, and adjust. This is life now. This is real. We can’t put it off till “the grieving process is over,” because it may never be.
Life doesn’t begin after your life changes. It’s ongoing. Enter the world with determination to truly experience every moment, even the tough ones, and resist the temptation to think that there’s no happiness, no good, to be had today.
This is real life, now, this moment.