There was a time in my life (which, to be honest – sometimes feels like a different lifetime), when I watched a lot of TV.
Really, it was entirely too much TV. But I digress… Anyway, during this time, I watched this one-off episode on NatGeo or the History Channel on parallel universes.
And at the time, the idea was incredibly alluring. If you could imagine, a universe for nearly every decision you’ve made…the opposite choice was made.
I thought of all of the parallel versions of me. I had a lot of time on my hands and so I imagined, somewhere in all of those universes – there was perhaps, a version of me that had made all of the right decisions in her life. Somewhere, a version of me was living my ideal life. And for some reason, the idea was really comforting – that somewhere, someplace a very different me was happy.
And then, the most incredible thing happened.
Absolutely everything went wrong.
Well, that’s a little dramatic. Not everything went wrong – just the thing I had built my life plan around – that went terribly wrong.
I stopped thinking about the parallels and focused on rebuilding my life. I made decisions (some bad, some pretty damn good ones), but I made them for me. I created a plan based on the things that I wanted. I crossed handful of things off and added more than a few things to the list. I met interesting people with amazing stories and I built (and rebuilt) relationships that I could be proud of. I realized how messed up my life was before and how unhappy I was, and I worked on building something better.
Then a few weeks ago, I was walking my dog. A gentle breeze stirred by our feet as we walked along the sidewalk that encircles my apartment building and, for no reason at all, I remembered.
I remembered all those thoughts on the parallels. Those versions of me that made different decisions than I did. I still haven’t made all the right decisions, but somehow I’ve managed to build a life that makes me happy. And as for the parallels….well, no where is there someone who has made all the right decisions, living the perfect life. And even if there were…that person would be seriously boring.
After all, how do you learn if not for all those mistakes? How do you amass those crazy, funny, and unbelievable life experiences if you do everything perfectly? And how do you get stronger and smarter if you’ve never been tested?
Just like characters in a novel – the most interesting ones have the best backstories. And just like stories themselves, life can prove boring without the occasional plot twist or (mis)adventure.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve learned not to pine away for perfection. Life is imperfect. But in that imperfection, you can find and make your own version of happiness.