Do you ever feel as if things are going swimmingly in your life—even as you’re waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop? If you frequently feel this paradoxical tug of simultaneous joy and fear, let me explain this dynamic and what you can do about it, the goal being that you lose the fear and keep the joy. That’s what you want, isn’t it?
Somewhere along the way (okay, probably in childhood), you weren’t in charge of making yourself happy and had to share that job with parents, siblings and maybe even other relatives. Perhaps you’d be right in the middle of some joyful activity and something not so good would happen to pull the rug out from under you. In this way, you learned to become wary of feeling too good for too long because you figured that that there was a shoe out there ready to drop and end your good times.
The truth is that you were both right and wrong. Life does have its ups and downs. In that sense, there will always be metaphoric shoes dropping—the car won’t start, your flight gets cancelled, your lover becomes gravely ill, or your daughter flunks out of school. You can’t expect to keep marching for the rest of your life and have no rain fall on your parade. Life is full of heavenly and hellish moment and you can count on that.
But you have more choice now than you did when happiness was snatched away from you due to selfish parents or your meanie of a brother or your teacher who seemed to enjoy making her students suffer. Now you can recognize that no one is purposely ruining your party (and if they are, it’s time to boot them out of your life for good), but that misery-causing stuff just happens to you and everyone else.
You can now make a new meaning of shoes dropping. Maybe, as a child, you thought, “It’s stupid to try to have fun because someone always comes along to ruin it,” or “Why bother getting excited about something positive, cause it won’t last?” Maybe as an adult you still think that way. It’s time to put a different frame on that picture and make new meaning of why life doesn’t simply roll merrily along. That reason is that the universe is far too complex for any one of us to have only good times from birth til death.
A more sensible meaning to make of pain replacing pleasure is that you’d better have fun in between those shoes falling because no kind of umbrella is going to stop them from landing on you and those you love. Enjoy life now, this minute and every minute that you can, precisely because that other shoe is going to drop and you will never know when. Have joy precisely because it won’t last. It never can or will. It’s not the shoes that matter, it’s what you do in between them dropping that makes life worthwhile.