Sometimes life is like a carnival. There are so many things to do and so many choices to make. Problems can arise when we choose one activity over another, and then worry whether we made the right choice. We may wonder, “If I’m not happy with the choices I make, can I get my money back?” If we look for guidance, we may wonder who and what to believe. “If I choose the wrong thing, will I be ridiculed by others?” Or worse, “If I am wrong, will I torment myself for being less than perfect“? And you thought going to a carnival was easy! Here are a few more thoughts on the matter.
Childhood is the foundation for all that follows. While it is certainly difficult for adults to become parents, being a kid is no piece of cake either. Children depend upon everyone around them to watch out for them, protect them, nourish them, teach them, encourage them, and advocate for them. When it comes to making choices at “the carnival”, every child must live through their share of painful and poor choices but hopefully, emerge with greater wisdom, knowledge and self-confidence.
After high school, the carnival becomes more complex. Young adults must decide how best to play the game of life. This involves choices about school, careers, goals, and a family of their own. Before marriage or family, it is easier to leave one’s options open and simply focus on building one’s skills, credentials and life plans. Once we have started families, things are a bit more complicated requiring a continuous mantra of “the more you do, the more you can do”. Even when we need to modify our goals to meet family needs, we don’t have to abandon those goals permanently. Spouses should support each other’s efforts at training, education, and professional development because each of us needs an occupational identity. For a myriad of reasons, it may become necessary at any time to reverse family roles and change sources of income.
It’s not as much fun to go to carnivals alone. One of the all important cornerstones of happiness lies in finding a mate with whom you can share your life. When looking for a mate, it is important to be attracted to each other both as sexual partners and as best friends. Best friends are willing to go to the carnival even when they don’t feel like it, and they’re willing to go on rides they don’t like just because it makes their partner happy. Great love and great friendship go hand in hand. In these relationships, invitations to do things together are more often met with a “yes” than a “no”.
Beware of rejecting your partner without offering alternative solutions. The problem with living together is that it’s easier to take each other for granted, harder to miss each other, and easier to feel like our efforts are not equal. That being the case, we have to work extra hard to treat family members as well as we do our other best friends. This translates as making plans to do special things together, allocating time to have fun, and strengthening our friendship by continuously building new memories together.
My over-used carnival metaphor suggests that life is a path that offers infinite opportunities and enticements. Along our path, each of us will make both good and bad choices, and we will experience both good and bad consequences. At times, we may feel motivated to make changes, take risks and hop on the merry-go-round. At other times, it may feel right to sit still for awhile and just watch “the show”. Sometimes, just when we think we’ve got things all figured out, armed with our plans, our knowledge, and feeling ready to go, something as silly as the weather will turn all of our plans upside down, reminding us not to take things too seriously.
After all, it is just a carnival… isn’t it?
©Copyright, 2012, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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