This expression comes from Donna's cousin Alice Gormus who frequently posts it to her Facebook page. I always chuckle when I see it. Yet the other day I realized how much profound truth it contains. Things are what they are and no amount of wishing or dreaming will make it different. That doesn't mean we can't act or that we should be passive recipients of whatever happens to us. It is however about seeing things as they are and dealing with them as they are rather than hoping they were different or denying what is in front of us.
It really hit me this week as I have been battling an intense war within myself that are all about the "could have" "should have" etc. Yes I do struggle with procrastination or as I like to say it "I need the fire of the deadline." It is how I work and no amount of shaming and no amount of "if you had just started this earlier" has changed it (shocking I know). It finally hit me that saying to someone who is faced with a situation that maybe you fully believe they should have worked on sooner the single worst thing you can say is "Well if you had just started sooner" or "Why didn't you do that earlier?" I say that is the worst thing one can say because there is nothing that can be done with that. Do you have a time machine or time turner like in Harry Potter? I can't go back in time and change it, all I can do is move forward from now.
Yet I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the words "Well why didn't you do that sooner or start that sooner or if you had just started sooner..." It is not helpful - trust me if it was then I would be the poster child for those words. All it feels like is that someone is taking salt and rubbing it into already sore spots. Maybe I should have, maybe I could have but I will tell you what I know right now, I can't change that now. I also can't tell you how much time I waste doing battle with the "I should have, could have," voices in my head. It also has a corollary "well if you had only...." and the "well why didn't you ...." and the "you should have..." - none of them helpful. I waste a ton of time second and third guessing my decisions and actions. This can lead to an endless downward cycle that does lead to paralysis and sometimes passivity in response to a situation that requires decision making and action. It is certainly not motivating or inspiring. It is adding shame and discouragement in a moment that may already be stressful.
There may be a time to reflect back and think about what could have been done differently but the time for that is not in the midst of the situation. In the midst of the situation what is needed is what is going on right now and the helpful questions and statements are "What do you need" and "Can I help." We live in the present - we can neither change the past and we can't predict for certain the future. All we have is now.
So thank you Alice for the reminder that it is what it is and it ain't what it ain't. Now to keep putting one foot in front of the other making the best decisions I can staying in the present moment.
So speaking of that I am in the midst of moving to Richmond, VA. The blog may quiet down for a little bit as we are working on finding and settling into a place to live and I am looking for a job. All thoughts and prayers welcome!