Longing for Utopia, and why we need to go on nevertheless

Garden centres always make me happy. Looking at the abundance  of plants blooming, the many people around me admiring them, watching what they pick and buy, taking home little pieces of beauty for their gardens and balconies. Strolling through the lanes full of colours and scents, buzzing insects sitting on flowers, I take my time to enjoy the sights. 

A piece of paradise.

The same goes for gardens, whether it’s an impressive botanical garden or your neighbour’s small private paradise behind the fence. They stand for getting on with life, planting seeds that one day turn into something amazing. No matter what dies or gets broken, life is always coming back. Each year. People with a garden don’t give up. 

It lifts my heart to observe nature awakening, blooming and spreading so fast, almost like an explosion of greenery. Makes it easy to be happy and thankful for these lavish botanical gifts – which are for everyone to enjoy, and can help chasing away the dark clouds in our minds.

Finding and holding on to the good amidst the bad is how we carry on in life. I had to remind myself lately that it is the only way to move on and find some peace. Not expecting things to turn out perfect. Just loving what is, enjoying the good I see, and otherwise, accepting imperfect life happening. Not wasting my time fighting reality. 

Until the mind is open, the heart stays closed. The open mind is the key to the open heart. Byron Katie

Many of us are in such a constant fight though. Whenever an idea is brought forward, an invention that will make a difference, a decision that has the potential to chart the course into a positive direction, it does not even take a minute for doubts being voiced and concerns raised. Because “not everything has been perfectly thought through”. Because there are flaws in the concept – which is normal.

Fighting climate change? Of course, but having to change our lifestyle for it? 

Eliminating hate content on Facebook through organizations fact-checking posts? Yes, but we don’t want our right to free speech to be curbed. And they cannot do it right or well enough anyway.

It’s always coming down to “yes, but”.

One recent example actually made me laugh. German government introduced a flat rate ticket for 9 Euro allowing people unlimited travel on local/regional transport services during one selected month in the summer. A great idea. Within days, 7 million tickets were sold – which speaks for itself. 

Well, it did not take long for complaints to start. Train infrastructure and delays being a notorious problem in Germany, the system was overwhelmed quickly by the sudden increasing demand. No surprise. 

These complaints on social media convey a very typical picture for picking apart a good idea because it is not perfect. One comment even demanded that “first the train system should be improved before launching such an initiative”. 

A large number of people liked this move nevertheless, otherwise, they would not have bought the ticket. Taking bumps in the process into account is part of the deal. Not everyone wants to accept it though, but on the other hand, you can never please everybody.

Complaining about each and everything because of lack of perfection is a behaviour I often perceive. Very easy to do of course, because nothing on earth ever will be perfect. Whatever decision I am looking at in life – I could always complain about it if I wanted to (in German we call it “looking for the hair in the soup”).

To stay in the above example: what’s better? Do nothing and wait for the day to come when everything is perfectly prepared and then launch this program? Or rather launch it well knowing there will be problems, for which solutions need to be found anyway? Thereby creating an opportunity and the  pressure to tackle them.

That’s how progress and change is initiated. Whatever does not function well, suddenly becomes visible and directs focus. It is a manner of speeding up the solution-finding process. It takes courage though. 

When we stop opposing reality, action becomes simple, fluid, kind, and fearless. Byron Katie

Expecting perfection in life can only bring disappointment. There will never be a time when everything is in perfect balance, or things working out always to our advantage. We might wish for a life with less disturbances, less worries, problems, fears, pain, and obstacles in our way. It is a very human desire. But that’s not how life works.

Even for the big challenges the world is facing, we would very much prefer perfect solutions. To have it all done and over with in one go: climate change, wars, inequality, injustice, oppression. We just want it to stop, as if by magic. Someone please, take a decision and then the nightmare would be over.

Exhausted, we are desperately longing for Utopia. A place without sorrows or fears, calm and serene. 

I understand this desire so very well and I share it. Thoughts like this are going through my mind quite often.

Doesn’t matter what it is about and in which context – at work, at home, in politics… Wouldn’t it be great if other people just did what I wanted? To be more kind, peaceful, tolerant, patient, organized, reasonable, … the list is endless. Frustrating and useless thoughts. 

I should rather be happy every time something works out, a right decision is taken, or a move initiated into a good direction. Never being content with whatever happens is a strong human reflex, and – on the positive side – a driver of change.

As much as I long for everything to be in harmony one day, I have to say goodbye to this wishful thinking. I won’t live to see solutions being found to all problems of humanity in my lifetime. It will go on long after I am gone.

Loving what is – as Byron Katie advocates in “The Work” – does not mean to endure injustice. It means not fighting reality. Acknowledging the inevitable fallibility of humankind. Fighting against windmills does not change a thing and serves nobody – it only wastes my precious time and energy.

Hoping for Utopia and trying to get at least part of it realized is not wrong, and we need to continue holding on to this dream.

But we need to approach it with more focus, without hesitation and with courage, while achieving peace of mind for ourselves.

Don’t forget: whatever good we manage to bring into this world, however small it is – it is a little piece of paradise already.

And it can tip the scale one day.

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