Some of you may know about my annoying dog voice. No really, it’s squeaky and babyish and irritating,not to mention crass (more on this blog). But my dog doesn’t mind.
When she wants something (food, or…food), and starts salivating when she hears a bag crinkle or a can open, I tell her “Gemma, I don’t care about your feelings!” Which of course is the farthest thing from the truth.
I interchange this sentiment with, “Gemma, you don’t just get things.”
It occurred to me the other day, on the heels of some disappointing news that this wisdom applies to more than just a dog begging for food. It applies to us humans. I see parents imparting this on their kids all the time, or at least trying to. Saying no to requests. Like my parents used to say to me when I wanted my fourth sleepover in a row, or a ride to the Rockaway Mall so I could get blue mascara or a second ear piercing (never happened).
“But why not?” I would bemoan.
“Because I said so,” my father would say. Or just, “Because.”
“Ok but give me a reason,” I would negotiate.
“I don’t have to give you reason.” Which would send me off to my room in a crying tizzy.
It only took me close to forty years (like a Jew in the desert who needs reeducating) of tough experiences, of random occurences and unexplainable events, to realize that most of the time, there is no reason.
Most of the time, we don’t just get things. We don’t just get everything we want.
It prompted me to ask myself, what is my “thing” – the main narrative of my life? The thing that I wanted most, that sticks out above all others? My learnings, my writings, have all been divorce and remarriage centric. My first marriage, which consumed my being for all of my twenties and most of my thirties, was my “thing” and when that was no longer, the balance was later righted by finding and getting the thing I wanted (and worked at) the most. My husband, my soul-mate.
But in the other areas of my life – be it my job, or my writing, or even the expected succession of life stages that many of my friends have (marriage in your early thirties, time to hang out, followed by kids) – things don’t always go my way. Or success proves elusive. Sometimes all the hard work I put in, the whining, the yearning and straining – or attempting to manipulate and negotiate events in my favor – doesn’t beget results.
And when that happens, it sucks. It hurts. The thrill and joy of attaining the thing we want most – has an equal and opposite shitty feeling. But maybe that’s the point. It cultivates a deep gratitude.
We don’t just get things – at least not all of them. Maybe we just get one of them – the most important one. And that’s enough. It’s plenty.
But Gemma? I lied. She totally gets everything she wants. All the time.