And Now, Open Your Eyes And See, What We Have Made Is Real, We Are In Xanadu
When I was about six or seven my parents took the whole family out to Universal Studios. I think it was because we had relatives staying that we engaged in all the touristy activities, but I remember it being one of the first times going on the tram and seeing all the sights. Providence knows my memory isn't the best and that I lose more than I retain. But I do remember being on the tram coming down a hill and seeing a billboard for Xanadu, one of the trippiest films ever made. I remember thinking how cool it looked and how I wished I'd seen that film when it was in the theaters. I don't know--I was young; flashy images and the picture of Olivia Newton-John was pretty much all it took to impress me. It wasn't so much the coherence of the project (which, upon later viewing, wasn't all that coherent), but the idea that this project emitted brilliance that perked my ears and eyes up.
Inherently, my day was set. I saw one good billboard and it set the tone for the rest of the outing. I had fun. I smiled and laughed a lot. It really was that simple.
Sometimes I wish it were still that easy. I mean--people say all the time that children are easily entertained or easily fulfilled. They don't want for much a lot of the time, so it's an easy matter to have their wishes fulfilled. The problem, I believe, is when we get older, we start setting our sights a little higher. We aim a little farther and then, consequently, push ourselves to reach expectations that may or may not be out of our grasp. I think that's a problem. While I agree with the principle behind testing your limits, I know firsthand the devastation and anxiety the accompanies people who have yet to reach their goals. If there was only a means to achieve your dreams without being suffering in the process, I'd be all for it. But what I've known of dreams, it's a roughshod affair that ends in tears more often than not. That's what I can't stand.
That's why I think Toby has it right when it comes to her new philosophy--little joys in little boxes. She too has experienced the angst of worrying about the future, worrying about what happens if you fail. That's why she came up with the philosophy I've always espoused, but never put into words so concisely.
Basically, the philosophy is you should treat each new accomplishment with as much enthusiasm as you would a larger one. I mean--if you concentrate on how happy something small and usually insignificant makes you and not worry about when you're going to get the big prize, you'll never be disappointed. That's it. That's all. It's not telling you to give up on your lifelong dreams. It's telling you to appreciate all the tinier dreams you have along the way.
It makes her happier than she ever was before.
And it makes me happier than I was even a few years ago.
Somewhere along the way in my life I adopted a stance of only huge progress being worthy of notice. If it didn't completely revolutionize my life, then it wasn't good enough. I did that and I was miserable because everyone and everything disappointed me. I could never make people or my own actions as stellar as I wanted them to be. Or, when it wasn't that, I could never accomplish tasks I set for myself fast enough. Or, when it wasn't that, I could never appreciate tasks I did manage to succeed. I copped this attitude that if I get it done then it wasn't grand enough or hard enough. It was always push, push, push.
And I was miserable.
Then I remembered how happy a silly little movie like Xanadu could make a silly little me and I made a concerted effort to enjoy everything more. While it hasn't always worked out like I planned and I've lost my footing following this philosophy more than once, I can see the positive benefit it has had on my life.
Little joys in little boxes... that's all you need to know.