Getting stuck in the gap between what is and what you hope is

Disclaimer Рas I think may have been noted before, people can be quite different from each other. The way they think, feel, even look, can vary quite a bit from person to person. Therefore I've found that when writing about 'people', the problems they face and useful ways of overcoming those problems, I tend to find that  seemingly common problems don't exist at all for some people and what's useful insight for some is of no bloody use to others. I'm pretty sure that's okay though. The issues I explore may resonate with you, or the solutions may seem laughably obvious. But the more we share ideas and experiences the better off we all are. 

Many years ago one of the early books on Chaos Magick I read contained a statement to the effect that "in order to achieve what you wish for you have to let go of your fantasy." I recall not understanding it, in fact flat out rejecting it, when I first read it. Given at the time I was highly prone to flights of fantasy, mentally building possible futures for myself, indulging in day-dreams of all manner of positive outcomes, I didn't feel that it was compromising my intention of making these things real. In fact, how was I supposed to know what I was working towards if I didn't imagine it?

It's taken me a fair while to wrap my head around the wisdom of that initial statement. Like many forms of learning, it came through expanding my experience, then re-framing the initial idea until it slotted more comfortably into the way I already conceived of the world.

What I've observed recently in myself and others is that by clinging to a hope of how you want things to be you are left drained of the energy required to make a change. I see people unhappy in their job talking about how their job would be fine if just x and y were different. Or in a relationship talking about if their partner were just different in these few ways. Or that they keep indulging in a frustrating or unfulfilling activity over and over because if it just altered in these certain ways it would be what they wanted.

By carrying this image of what we hope for, and by mentally interacting with that image, we aren't dealing with the world as it is, but instead with a fantasy that isn't there. When this situation came up I've found it useful to ask the question "If this situation/person never changes, is always going to remain exactly as it is, what would you do?" It's remarkable how often this question provokes the desire and motivation to change. The presence of the fantasy – that things will suddenly turn around, evolve, get better – is remarkably disempowering.

Time spent in a fantasy that life has a purpose for us, that our luck is about to change, that the circumstances that surround us will shift of their own accord, is time not spent engaging with reality, learning about our current situation, making judgements based on truth, noticing opportunities for forward movement. Participating in the reality of things, rather than absenting ourselves into a comfortable mental space, is what makes us powerful, skillful and correctly directed.

Fantasies have to die in order to create the best possible reality, because only by seeing reality as it really is can be see the building blocks that are going to allow us to build what we desire. Only by experiencing our dissatisfaction with the way things are will we find motivation to implement change.

Things do shift, grow and get better by themselves. But more often than not they don't. So I think it's a valuable question to ask – if this is how things are going to stay, if right now is a genuine representation of the state of your life, what would you cease putting up with and start to change?

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2 Responses to "Getting stuck in the gap between what is and what you hope is"

  1. E says:

    Thank you for your post. I came back today to your blog to re-read your older post "Enlightenment-so what the bloody hell is it?" Because I remember it made an impact in me the first time I read it. So it was nice to find new content just published today! Great post.

    • James says:

      Thank you for the kind comment. I'm hoping to be posting a bit more again at the moment. And I'm going to try and increase the amount of stuff about enlightenment, so… hopefully you'll find that of interest.

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