Life is beautiful. But we all know we won’t live forever. So all of our planning, lifestyle design and productivity must be with a view to having that ‘perfect ending’ we read about as children in storybooks and fairytales. Right?

After a long and challenging time for all of us, here are 3 lessons I have learned about the pursuit of a perfect ending.

1. There’s a whole heap of stuff we don’t control.

Infuriating. Things would honestly run so much better if we had more control over them. But we don’t. So much of life is completely out of our hands.

We have to hope that the weather is kind to us on the day that we have planned an outdoor event. We have to hope that our flight isn’t delayed. We have to hope that there isn’t heavy traffic when we are running late.

Some circumstances are even more painful to have outside of our control. We have to count on the school teacher not to take out a bad mood on our kids. We have to count on the doctor to care more about our sick relative and less about their schedule.

As long as a chunk of our lives is in the hands of external forces, we can never be guaranteed to see the perfect ending we have in mind.

2. We don’t know what’s going to happen next.

Show of hands… who here, back in January 2020, thought that we’d be living in a pandemic and questioning whether Christmas would be cancelled just a few months later, or that we may not hug or even see our family members and friends again for a very long time?

As much as we love to precisely plan out our futures in our calendars, diaries, planners and notebooks, we never really know what’s going to happen.

We could take money out of the bank in the morning with a plan to buy a new outfit, only to be handing that money over to a mechanic in the afternoon to get our car back on the road.

We could make exciting plans for a family gathering in the summer, only for one of our family members to pass away unexpectedly in the spring.

We could be right in line for that promotion at work that we’d always wanted and worked so hard for, only for a pandemic to sweep in and take away not only the promotion, but the job, and the entire company.

3. Some things simply don’t make sense.

People we thought were great friends may cut all contact or disappear with no explanation. All of the credit for a project we worked hard on is given to a colleague who only tagged themselves to us in the final hour.

Tragic things happen to the most beautiful souls, with no warning. Meanwhile, egomaniacs delight in making others miserable while still enjoying all the spoils of life.

None of this is fair. Even worse, there is almost never a way to explain it. We’re left with more questions than answers. We can only live in hope that people really do reap what they sow, good or bad, and that we might even be there to see it.

The Upsides

Now I would never leave you with a list of grim realisations, without highlighting the good there is to be found in them.

It’s true that there is a lot that we don’t control, but in knowing that, there’s a lot less that we need to worry about – things that are so often not our burden to carry. So we might as well let it go (I challenge you to not sing those last 3 words in your head!)

It’s true that we don’t know what’s going to happen next, but in knowing that, we can feel driven to live each day as if it’s our last, in terms of how much effort we make to leave our mark, how much love and time and attention we give to our family and friends, and how much we invest in making ourselves happy and content.

It’s true that some things simply don’t make sense, but in knowing that, we can release some of our feelings of responsibility towards some outcomes, and not feel like we have to know and explain what went right or what went wrong, and why.

There are many blessings to be found in throwing out the blueprints for a perfect ending, and simply enjoying the ride.