I don’t know when I’ll be back again…
This morning at our weekly staff meeting, our Controller (best job title ever, just for the record) shared with us something that had come up in an earlier meeting he had attended. It revolved around our persistent use of “have to’s.” He reminded our team that it was September 11th today and we should be thinking instead in terms of “get to’s.”
We “get to” go to work. We “get to” run the kids around to practice after work. We “get to” do lots of things that 3000+ people didn’t get to do after the morning of September 11th and the destruction that ensued.
He didn’t say it melodramatically. He didn’t say it in a chastising way. He didn’t tell us we were a bunch of whiners.
He just gave us perspective.
And sometimes we all need that.
I flew out east this weekend for an incredible wedding for two incredible people and my flights home didn’t quite go as planned. At one point I was standing at the Delta counter with tears welling up telling this previously-unknown-to-me lady that “I just want to get home to see my husband tonight because he’s leaving for Canada tomorrow.” And although it didn’t go as smoothly as it should have and although Matt ended up driving to Duluth to pick me up instead of Hibbing and although it was several hours later than it should have been, the important thing is that I made it home. My plane landed safely and realistically, that’s all that matters.
We humans really can be whiners, especially a lot of us Americans. We’re incredibly limited in our perspective and quite honestly, if you stand back and listen objectively to what we’re whining about, we probably should be smacked around a little (not that this pacifist is advocating violence!). Maybe that’s why the friends of mine who are the happiest people are usually the ones who’ve either spent time in the Peace Corps or have done a lot of traveling to third world countries for various other reasons.
We do ‘get to” do a lot of pretty awesome things, even if they are downright mundane to us. And we send emails or post pithy facebook postings about how we’re thankful for going to work because it means we’re employed or thankful for washing dishes because it means we had food on our table, but so often we feel that one moment and then it’s gone the next.
We have such short attention spans when it comes to feelings of gratitude and such high sensitivity levels to what we don’t have compared to others and such huge expectations that never seem satisfied.
And when we find someone who’s happy for their life and who doesn’t wallow in self-pity or whine incessantly, how do we respond? We call them Pollyanna and tell them that their naive and unable to see the sorrow that is life. How dare they be happy when we are trapped in our worlds of have-to’s.
It’s kind of a disease that runs rampant through our society, this self-induced unhappiness, this (forgive the phrase) pissing contest of who is more miserable, more busy, more (big sigh and eyeroll from them) overwhelmed by everything they have going on. What if instead of bragging about our agony, we bragged sincerely about how grateful we were to have those mundane things in our lives?
Folks, we really are mortal, contrary to what the evidence looks like for your life right now.
Enjoy the mundane moments, those are, after all, the majority of your life. Enjoy the inner jokes with your coworkers and friends. Enjoy the way your pets or children knock you off your feet when you get home. Enjoy those moments where an entire conversation is shared between you and another with only one knowing look passing between you both.
Enjoy your “have to’s” by making them “get do’s” because you “can do.”