I can tell you with total honesty that almost every wish that I ever made never came true. I can tell you with total honesty that almost everything I planned did not go the way I hoped or anticipated. I can tell you with total honesty that almost everything I thought would happen for me, or to me, didn’t.
TWO wishes (or plans or hopes, whatever you like to call them) did; when I found out I was going to have to become a mother, I wished, desperately, for a girl, and later, when I signed up for my very first college classes after her first birthday, I wished to do better in every class than everybody else. Those are the only two things that “worked out” for me. Nearly 50 years of making wishes and only two actually came to be. This is not a woe-is-me pity-party blog, this is simply a recognition that life can be rather splendid even when nothing really ever goes your way, because I can tell you with total honesty that hardly anything ever went my way, and still, I am really happy.
I have many memories of making wishes as I blew out my candles on birthday cakes year after year. I never stopped wishing, I never stopped dreaming, and I never stopped thinking “always on the bright side.” I never stopped making “plenty of deposits in my karmic bank.” I just simply felt, believed maybe, that life is a whole lot better when you remain optimistic. EVERY day doing your best to find a silver lining, because, well, why not? There will always be clouds so you might as well look for the silver linings. Which brings me to the paragraphs about silver linings…
Here is a photo of me on my 20th birthday as my baby tries to blow out my candles.
Here is a photo of me on my 40th birthday as her baby tries to blow out my candles.
I can tell you with total honesty that somehow, although hardly a thing went the way I hoped it would go, and hardly a thing happened the way I wished it would happen, here I am, just weeks before my 50th birthday, silver lining seeker that I am, completely overwhelmed with one simple fact that has followed me for all the years of my life on this earth; I have loved, and been loved, more than I ever could have possibly wished for. On even my darkest days the silver lining of my life is that I always had somebody to love, and knew that somebody loved me. While it’s true many people judge their success or failure in life by what they have amassed or achieved or attained, if we choose instead to judge success by how much love we have given, and have been given, I feel like I could be a winner.
During the summer I was in line at the market at the beach where I work and a lady in front of me was buying lots of “goodies,” muffins, cookies, chocolate milk…and I said to her, “that is a fun bag of groceries you have there.” She said how excited she was, that she was going to see her grandchildren that day, and that she had not seen them in over a year. She was wearing a diamond ring on her finger that was as big as a dime. She had a handbag on her shoulder that cost more than I earn in a month. She had on Tory Burch flip-flops that cost 10 times what I paid for my Havaianas, and she had not seen her grandchildren in over a year…you want to talk about feeling rich??!! I said to her that I hoped she had a great visit and that I live next door to mine. “You live next door to your grandchildren?” she asked, and then she said, “I would give anything to have that.” A lady who left the market and got into a car that cost more than I make in three years of work, with her fancy purse, and her big fat engagement ring, in her $198 flip-flops would probably really love it if she saw her grandchildren more than once a year…I felt like I could be a winner…
We all value the elements of being alive, the experiences of life if you will, differently, and while I am sure many people would rather be rich than loved, since I am far from rich, and I have no idea what it would feel like anyway, to have plenty of money and to not worry, month after month about it, so clearly I can’t compare them, but I do know what it feels like to be loved, and it feels really, really good.
When I am around my wonderful parents, I sometimes think, if you are lucky enough to have parents like mine, then, you’re lucky enough! When my handsome affectionate drummer boyfriend smiles at me or kisses me, and my toes curl and my spine tingles and my belly gets those butterflies, I think to myself, I am crazy in love with this man and oh how I wish we met when we were young, because I could have been feeling like this for the last 33 years! When my daughter texts me a photo of her radio screen while she’s in her car, showing a song that she used to love, and bringing up my memory of her singing her heart out to it beside me in the car when she was little, I feel loved. When my granddaughters lean into me for hugs as their school bus pulls up to the driveway, or thank me for some kindness, or text me out of the blue, I feel loved. It might have a value of ZERO to many, to have those feelings, and that is okay for them, but it turns out for me, it’s a bit of a big deal.
It’s certainly no way to keep up with the Joneses, as you really can’t compare your cars or your vacations to a text I received with heart emojis from a little kid…you simply can’t compare material things to love things. In these many years on this planet, at least that I’ve learned. While it’s true that all my years of making wishes on birthday cake candles did nothing really, in the big scheme of things, here I am loving and being loved in ways that some might only dream of. So funny really, for me, this is what ‘came true,’ and it was nothing I ever even wished for…