I have often thought over the years that if I had just one wish what would that be? What would I change, do different or ask for?
Many times I’ve daydreamed about one thing or another and thought my life would be better, more complete, happier, healthier, thinner and I could go on and on. What I never thought about was, if that wish was granted how would it change the outcome and course of my life as I know it today?
You see, if I was able to make adjustments to my past, no matter how small, that change will inevitably disrupts the trajectory and path I am on and if a change is made in the past then the present as I know it no longer exists. It will be new, different.
This then started me thinking about why I wanted one wish in the first place, what was so wrong with my life? Did I feel out of control? Unloved? Dissatisfied with my choice of work or partner? Or maybe I was young, inexperienced and unsure of the world? Now I believe that feeling came from a felt sense of being out of alinement with life in general.
But what caused this I wondered?
Daydreaming about life is a normal and healthy pastime, thinking about having this or that or doing something different is nice and wishful thinking. However when it starts to affect your emotional state which then spills out on to those around you, it becomes something more serious.
Taking ourselves off into another dimension removes us from the present, it’s a distraction and sometimes a very needed one in times of extreme pain and trauma. Humans a have the amazing ability to take their mind off to other places even though the physical body is still. A healthy way to do this is through deep meditation and relaxation. The unhealthy way is by turning to substance or drug misuse, addictive and compulsive behaviours as a means and way to distract oneself from the present.
Again this had me thinking that if what I was feeling was from a sense of being out of alinement with life in general was this then another term for an existential crisis? Irvin Yallom writes about this subject so well in his book Existentialism, where he refers to four aspects, abandonment, loneliness, isolation and death as being the main causes of this crisis and for me that struck a cord. When I think about Society as we know it today, life can be difficult, times have changed. We no longer have the communities or family support that our parents had. Talking to each other has been replaced by email, text, Twitter and so on. Communicating with humans has in many ways been taken over by the fast pace of technology. The speed of this running ahead of our human ability psychologically to keep up.
Humans are relational beings and need each other to exist and thrive, isolation and loneliness are unfortunately all to common an issue with many people today. The break down of family units and systems fuel the feelings of abandonment and the lack of discussion on our mortality and death further play into human existential crisis. Maybe this was what I was going through and certainly reading up on the topic written by Yallom made a lot of sense to me.
When the human being feels trapped, cornered and powerless the psyche looks for a distraction to sooth itself. I now know this was what was happening to me, overcoming these feelings also brought me to a realisation. If focusing on what can be better or different places the mind into a state of false bliss what happens to our reality?
When our psyche or mind is left unchecked there is a real risk that it may go into overdrive where the fantasy starts to takeover the reality, again in times of severe trauma this is an essential coping mechanism.
When a fantasy takes us away from the present this has consequences on those around us. If an average everyday person going about their business was given one wish this would change something without them realising the domino effect that has on their life. Removing ourselves from the present and not allowing our mind, body and feelings to see our true reality can take away our choice to live in the here and now.
Learning to understand my own feelings around what was going on in my psyche led me to thinking about how many of us do not live in the present, always looking ahead or in the past, stuck in memories and daydreams which have no real purpose other than to prevent us from living. That’s not saying that fantasy’s are “bad”, we all need a little light relief at times, but when the fantasy takes us out of relation with ourselves and others is where a problem may occur.
Wishing part of my life to be different, and daydreaming about what I would change took me out of the here and now and stopped me from seeing all that I had in front of me. Even though I was sometimes unhappy or sad, that was only a feeling which eventually goes away. If a change had happened with a wish then all I know now may not be as it is, and who’s to say any better?
What I have come to realise is that only me as an individual can make my own wishes and put in place changes that will affect my future. Looking back I feel I was going through some sort of existential crisis which lead to me looking for a distraction to smooth the uncomfortable feelings I had. This lead to me not being present by reliving the past and fantasising about what if’s. I understand now that this has no logic or place, the past has gone, and no one can change that.
Now, if I was able to have one wish and change and alter the past I choose not to as I would loose so much of what I have learnt, that has made me who I am today.
I can make small changes in the here and now that will affect my future, I can live in the present and not distract myself with the past and what if’s. To be compassionate to my being, to make decisions and choices based on who I am as an adult and not on my insecurities of my inner child and past.
One wish is wishful thinking and I’ve learnt to keep it just that, I can smile and move forward keeping my myself grounded and very much in the here and now.