Happy is What Happens…

At my office one of the clearest ways to discern to which department someone belongs is the presence of head phones. The creative and production departments are all but surgically attached to their head phones. We’re most productive when our iTunes libraries are coursing through our ears and into our brains. I spend a minimum of 6 hours listening to music every day and I’m falling in love with it all over again.

All that to say, that may be why my last few posts have been so music driven.

There’s a song in the musical Wicked called “Thank Goodness.” It’s not even close to the most popular song of the musical, but it may be the most pivotal. The climax stanza says this…

But I couldn’t be happier
Simply couldn’t be happier
Well – not “simply”;
‘Cause getting your dreams
It’s strange, but it seems
A little – well – complicated.
There’s a kind of a sort of…cost.
There’s a couple of things get…lost.
There are bridges you cross
You didn’t know you crossed
Until you’ve crossed.
And if that joy, that thrill
Doesn’t thrill you like you think it will
Still – with this perfect finale
The cheers and ballyhoo…
Who wouldn’t be happier?
So I couldn’t be happier.
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true.
Well, isn’t it?
Happy is what happens
When your dreams come true!

The end of February and the beginning of March have been interesting to say the least, and haven’t been at all what I expected them to be. In that time, I’ve reconnected with 4 different significant friends that I’d lost touch with for about a year. I’ve also started a couple of new relationships. In all of these conversations, be they mid-day or late into the night the reoccurring theme seems to be “things weren’t supposed to turn out this way” and the above stanza from Wicked keeps swimming through my brain.

When you’re little, you paint this mental picture of what life will look like when you’re a “grown up.” It’s this fabulous happily-ever-after kind of picture that includes all your dreams of love and life coming true. There are parts of that picture encapsulated in the reality of adulthood, and I think it’s that more than anything else that makes the parts that differ hurt so much. It’s more than the fact that Glinda never had to write a rent check or file income taxes. We’re all dealing with heavy things: broken hearts, deaths of friends, abuses of people we love, loss of jobs, relationships with potential crumbling before they’re given a chance…some of it’s beyond our control, but some of it’s self-inflicted. On top of all that, few of us are living where we’d envisioned or doing what we’d envisioned or loving who we’d envisioned.

At the same time, we all lead pretty remarkable and enviable lives. God is doing extraordinary things in and around us, but it’s not what we expected. I’m left wondering if the smudges and chips on the ruby slippers keep us from seeing the gloriousness of the fairy tales in which we do live, or if the expectations of a simple fairy tale keep us missing out on our epic adventures…adventures that are bound to come with heartache and pain coupled with ecstasy and joy along the way.

I heard once that the greatest lie in cinema is the most famous line from The Wizard of Oz – “There’s no place like home.” When you think about it, “home” is a farm in a gray, tornadic, depression era dust bowl where some old lady is trying to kill your dog. Oz is a place of vibrant Technicolor where you’re constantly making new friends and you’re everyone’s heroine. Sure there are difficulties, but they never seem insurmountable. For what exactly are we longing? Why aren’t we looking for ways to enjoy the adventures we’ve been given rather than focusing on the obstacles?

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