One of the great beauties of getting older (and there are many) is that through all that living we end up with so many experiences to look back on … and learn from. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Some experiences are just meant to be enjoyed. Or endured. But many are suppose to teach us a lesson. Give us a takeaway. So that we don’t, you know, make the same mistake over again. And again. And again.
Wouldn’t want to do that. Nope.
But have you ever looked back on an enterprise, one that you thought (at the time) was monumental, life-changing, earth-shattering blah blah and realize (with all your new-found maturity) that it was just a blip? Just a teensy blip on the grand radar screen of your life.
It’s so difficult to recognize those blips when we are in the middle of living them because when we are in the middle of living them they can become all-consuming. Or at the very least somewhat distracting. And so we decide the blip is really a BIG DEAL. Until we come out the other side, shaking our heads and wondering … what the hell just happened? And why the hell did I get so all-fired up about a blip when the grand radar screen of my life is so much more engaging?
Years ago, my long-married friend H engaged in an online flirtation with a man she met in one of those chat rooms. It was thrilling and duplicitous (which made it even more thrilling) and at times she quite seriously questioned if her marriage could go the distance, knowing now as she did that excitement and passion could still beckon. There were many sleepless nights. Many heartfelt bordering on poetic emails. Many tears at my kitchen table. And then a few more sleepless nights until she woke up and remembered that anything new and mysterious is typically more thrilling than something old and familiar. And yet with old and familiar also comes history, trust, truth and dare I say … contentment. She realized pretty damn quick that what she had built with her husband was worth fighting for, not abandoning for … a blip. That online dude was a blip. A wake-up call, yes. But in the grand scheme of her life, merely a blip. Sure, for a few distraught months she mountained the hell out of that molehill. Thankfully she was eventually able to slot it back into teensy-blip-land, where it now remains a teensy episode in her marital saga.
Then there’s my other pal P. P actually did engage in an extra-marital dalliance. The reasons why are many and also immaterial. She ultimately decided to leave her husband and NOT because of said dalliance. After months of beating herself up over her cheating heart (other body parts were also involved) she realized that the affair was merely a symptom of a much bigger problem. A problem that would not be solved by replacing it with another problem. So she ditched both guys and set off on a new solo journey, all the while berating herself for breaking her vows.
Sorry, good Christians. I call BLIP.
Many years (and a new happy relationship later) that extracurricular activity was just a blip. Another wake-up call, yes, but just a teensy blip in the grand scheme of her life. There really was no need to turn into anything more than it was; a half-hour sitcom, not a sweeping epic a la Gone With The Wind.
I have many more examples of people in my orbit turning molehills into mountains. My son does it all the time but really, who can blame him? When you’re in your 20s everything seems monumental. I have friends (and ex-friends) who do it all the time because they either A) have no long-range vision or B) they thrive on drama. And I also know many people who look back on their lives and wonder why the heck they wasted so much time on a fucking blip when the big fat fabulous grand radar screen of their life was beeping. Quietly. Resolutely. Ever-beeping, reminding them that blips are just blips and molehills are not mountains.
I will admit now that I am a full-fledged molehill mountaineer. I have mountained SO many molehills in my time they’re naming one after me. Mount Neverest.
Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
I have turned blips into boulders before my morning coffee and I have sensationalized smidgeons of sandy specks when I should have been sleeping. I am fully capable of magnifying a measly morsel until it becomes a monumental monster … in my own alleged mind.
Until I look back at those hills that used to be alive and recognize the range is gone. It no longer exists. It actually never did. Because what I thought was a mountain was in fact a molehill. And no matter how you dress it up a blip is still just a blip.
I recently found myself spending far too much time, emotional energy, intellectual creativity and just plain old thought on a friendship that, in the end, was unworthy. I am not saying here that the friendship itself was unworthy. I am saying that the amount of time etc. (blah blah) that I was spending on that friendship was undeserving. And when that hit me I started beating myself up for being a moron. I will tell you I can beat myself up over any number of things on a daily basis but the one thing I hate more than anything is being a MORON.
And then I stopped. Beating myself up (for the record I never blame the other person). Because I decided (and it is always our decision to make) that this relationship was just a BLIP. Just a tiny blip on the grand radar screen of my life. It is what it is, it was what it was, it may even be what it will be … but right now TODAY I’m calling it a blip.
My life has been huge and full and I’m hoping there is much more huge and full to come. In hindsight I now know that so many what I thought were mountains were really just molehills. I can only hope that this hard-won knowledge won’t be quite so hard-won in the future. The good news is – this most recent experience no longer has a hold on me. I can let it go. Set it free. Banish it from my brain and move forward. I do not regret it, I do not long for it and I do not blame myself for its inception or its demise.
It was just a blip.