Imagine the life that’s waiting for you?

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you’ve imagined.”  I’ve always been a fan of this quote from Thoreau.

But dreams don’t always come true, even when (or especially when?) we try very hard to make them so.  In this light, Roberta sent me another quote, from E.M. Forster: “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

I liked this, too, except that it seemed to conflict with my favored Thoreau quote.  I know very well that there is an aphorism for every occasion, and that they’ll conflict rudely with each other without hesitation (a personal favorite: “Look before you leap” versus “He who hesitates is lost.”)  Yet something in me didn’t want Thoreau’s inspiration to be canceled out by Forster’s wisdom, or vice versa, and I couldn’t make out how to reconcile them.

Until JK channeled Kierkegaard (as he is prone to do) and suggested that the common denominator had to do with the gap between expectation and reality, wherein so much despair lies.  He wondered if maybe either quotation could be a path to happiness, in that both envisioned narrowing the gap.  Thoreau’s words would have us make our reality meet our expectations; while Forster’s would have us get past our expectations and embrace the reality that’s presented to us.

I thought this was pretty genius.  At first I thought, rather than picking one as a constant personal approach to life,  the trick might be deciding, day to day, moment to moment, challenge to challenge, which path is best.  But now I think maybe the real trick is following both paths at once:  Constantly striving for the life you’ve imagined, and constantly embracing the results that wait for you, whatever they are.

One Response to “Imagine the life that’s waiting for you?”

  1. Jayne Says:

    I have the Thoreau quote on my fridge, but I also really, really like the other quote as well. I think you’re right–it’s all about re-assessing the “plan” frequently while not letting go of dreams.

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