An overnight success takes 10 years. An overnight change takes a lifetime. That’s a long time to wait – specifically when it is someone else that needs to change. We all have a confidential craving to smack people in the head with a folded newspaper when they say/do annoying things, repeatedly. We find ourselves around these people all the time – husband/wife, love of your life, dad, mom, brother, sister – in no particular order of annoy-ability. Over time, the smack seems juvenile and quite pointless. What seems to make more sense is an attempt to recreate a version of the person we will love. Because: maturity.
They say hate cannot destroy hate. That’s not true of love. Love can obliterate love. What we often end up creating is a person who feels stifled and threatened: a person who wants to be free of that love.
Our life is a series of projects. These projects increase exponentially over time. They are what keep us going from one day to the next. It starts off as one massive project known as childhood. Childhood is weird because it makes us, shapes us, breaks us and creates a version of us that we find difficult to put together. We become an incomplete whole and life’s overarching project (or purpose) becomes finding the missing pieces. We go from one project to another hoping to find those pieces. And in the process, we see everyone’s missing pieces as well. Even mom and dad who we thought had it all together as we were growing up seem so incomplete all of a sudden. It’s no more about all the pieces you found amazing about those you love. It’s about the pieces that are missing. And you think it’s up to you to make them whole. So, it’s what you start looking for, every time you see them. Finding their missing pieces becomes your project.
And they begin to resent you for it.Sigmund Freud believed that in looking for other’s missing pieces, what we are really looking for are pieces of ourselves that are missing. Not exactly how he would have liked it phrased. But it’s better than trying to grapple with the idea of perfection. Perfection has no well-defined contours. Sure, nobody is perfect etc., but, that seems more like a lazy entitlement to remain a competent idiot. When we take up the project to put people’s missing pieces together, we don’t do it because we want perfection. We do it because we compensate for parts of ourselves that are incomplete. Instead of going back to working on ourselves – the massive project of finding our missing pieces – we go off to create the versions of the people that will fill those gaps.
If you cannot be okay with what’s incomplete now, you will never be okay with what’s complete later. Because completion is an illusion. Nothing or no one is ever complete. Completion happens when you stop looking for the missing pieces. When you begin to love what is. And it’s difficult to love what is. It’s easier to love what will be. The paradox of that is that without being able to love what is, you can never get to what will be. It’s not change itself that takes a lifetime. It’s an understanding that the one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person¹.Footnote:
1.My conclusion earlier was an entire paragraph, but I felt this line from Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters summed it up best.