Sunday, February 10, 2013

Are You Missing the Parade?

When I'm in an occasional unhappy or restless place in life, I often think of a story--more like a parable--my father shared with me when I was young. A father told his young son that the parade was coming to town and he wanted to take him. As expected, the young son was excited and could hardly wait. On the day of the parade, the father found a perfect spot up front on Main Street to await the grand event. With his son on his shoulders, they cheered and waved at the numerous floats, bands, and circus animals that passed by. Soon the parade ended and, after a long, exciting day, the father placed his son back on the sidewalk atop a sea of colorful confetti that had fallen, and announced it was time to go home. Perplexed, the young boy looked up at his father. "What's the matter, son? the father asked. The young boy paused and then replied, "But when is the parade coming, daddy?"

You see, the father never explained what a parade is and, so, the son had no idea how to identify it when he saw it. We could see this as the simple, cute naivety of a child, but how many of us are "missing the parade" every day because we don't know what "it" looks like? And that "it" could be anything from a good job to a good relationship to an overall good life. Call it human nature or an over saturation of pop culture stimulating us, but we seem to be less and less satisfied with what we have and more and more desperate for what we don't. We jump from relationship to relationship; job to job; home to home; city to city in search of.... Exactly. That's where it begins: taking inventory of what we do have by making a list (literally, if need be) and checking it twice (just like Santa ;-) so we can figure out what it truly is we're looking for or looking at.

Now, for many, doing that may be easier said than done if a person 1) has no point of reference for how to identify what it is they're seeking or 2) is not 100% sure what they're looking for in the first place. For example, a person who desires a good marriage may have never actually seen one, so they'll either create an unrealistic fantasy of what one should look like or all too easily dismiss the "good marriage" they do have because of their tarnished perspective. Or, even more common, desire a relationship period when what they're really looking for (or need) is more love and acceptance of self. And most of us know a relationship is never a substitute for that. Same with looking for that "good" job. Are we confusing a solid 9 to 5, with full benefits, an above average salary, vacation time, and "somewhat tolerable" co-workers with us looking for an opportunity that allows us to explore our passion? If so, those are two very different things and we better learn the difference real quick before all of our complaining lands us in the unemployment line, for no one ever said you couldn't have a job and cultivate your passion at the same time.

Now, I am in no way condoning doing or staying anywhere or in anything that does not allow for true growth or in any way feels taxing to our soul or diminishes our value. However, it's important to first dig deep enough to explore where the true discontent lies so we can better recognize what we have before losing or leaving it for something we think we want. Then once we can successfully do that, we must seek out those people who are where we want to be and are doing the things we'd like to do. Talk to them; ask them "how it looks"; what it takes; and how to get there, if need be.

If you desire a good marriage, talk to couples who have one; not the single person griping about being so. Or if you want to own your own business, talk to the entrepreneur who has one and stop wasting time complaining to the person in the cubicle next to you, for the blind can not lead the blind. Constantly changing or looking for something different or new will not necessarily fulfill you, if you don't know what or why that is. For a lot of our discontent with what's outside of us truly starts with what's within us, and as my favorite saying goes, "Wherever you go, there you are." But starting our search within; discovering what we're truly looking for; seeking mentors who are already where we want to be; and charting a course to getting there or, even better, finally being able to identify when we are already there, will!

Let's not get caught standing in the middle of our "parade" waiting for it to come and, possibly, missing it all at the same time. Let's learn to better count our blessings from yesterday; have joy today; and better prepare for our tomorrows!


  1. I think it is important to be astute about who and where you are so that your life's decisions are based on what's best for you and not what's best for the moment. Often people try to escape something that doesn't exist on the outside; rather it exists on the inside. Our lives are the sum total of our choices, and I always maintain that if we want a better life, we have to make better choices. And whatever choices we make, they should be well-informed ones that truly serve to get us to our end goal, whether it be personal or professional.