Kylie and I have really lived an incredible life. We’ve traveled all over the world, are living in New York City, and doing some amazingly rewarding work.
Even when things are great, I think there is a part of all of us that wonders what a different life would look like. When we traveled, we dreamed of settling in somewhere. When we settled in, we dream of traveling. We look at families with a handful of kids with a very real envy. But we certainly wouldn’t have had the experiences we’ve had if we had had kids early on – and, once we do have kids, we’ll miss what we have now.
It is a strange sort of cycle of discontent. Some of it is healthy, I think. It helps us hope and dream and imagine. But there are clear downsides as well.
One of the struggles with a “greener grass” perspective is that not all of our choices are fruitful. Not all options are beneficial. Traveling the world and being parents are both great options. But sometimes an exploration of options pushes us to the edge of our boundaries.
We start to imagine the consequences for a life of partying and promiscuity have been overstated. We start to list all the perks of money and fame and power.
And before you know it, we are chasing after things that are unhealthy, options that are counter-productive and detrimental to our character.
I went through a phase of this in my late twenties. I was tired of being “good” all the time. I wanted the “fun” I associated with the other side of my boundaries. And I tried it. I discovered a hard lesson – the boundaries were not keeping me away from fun; they were keeping me in it. What appeared to be a carefree life of glamour turned out to be a mirage. Actually, it was worse than that – it was a lie. And the consequences of believing that lie were a hard fall.The thing we do is try to convince ourselves bad choices are on equal footing as good ones. We are very good at this. And before we know it, we’ve lost all sense of character and what we truly desire and value. Other options seem “good” just because they are different. And that is a dangerous place to be.
The other, even more pervasive, negative of the “greener grass” perspective is it is a seed of discontent with our current reality. As I said before, a certain amount of this is good, even necessary for growth.
But the trouble comes when we start to believe the greener grass is going to be THE thing that solves all of life’s problems. That the other side of the fence will complete us in some final way. The grass on the other side still needs to be watered. No circumstance is sustainably “perfect”. Every season and facet of our lives comes with some challenge.
In fact, one of the subtle reasons we start to stray outside our boundaries is because we are frustrated that healthy living is so hard. We think it should be easy, comfortable – the exact sorts of things evil tempts us with.
We end up under-appreciating what we have today. We see our current reality for all its faults and our imagined reality for all its promises. Neither is a full perspective on the truth.
There is green grass all over this world. It is permeating your life. It takes upkeep and comes with noisy neighbors. But it is here. Now. Waiting for us to see the present for ALL it is worth.