Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Over and Over

I remember as a child waiting for Christmas or my birthday, and the presents that would come. I would wait for months for that Mattel football game with the beeps, or a race track, or some other thing that I was sure in my bones would bring happiness.

Over and over again I would feel the ache of waiting, of not knowing if I could make it, and then (at last!) the rush of opening what I had been waiting for. Happiness is here! Finally, I have it!

And then a few days (or even a few minutes) later I would be thinking of the next new thing. The thing that I had been so sure would mean happiness was quickly cast aside. Over and over I would fall for the new shiny toy, seemingly never learning.

I still do this. Sure, I admit it to myself less. I tell myself I don't really think that it will bring me happiness, but in a way I am just as excited about the new driver I bought yesterday as I am about those presents so long ago. And I don't seem to be the only one who feels this way.

Why is that? Why are we so addicted to this feeling? How does it serve us?

When I was young I had to wait, sometimes months. It seemed part our Puritan work ethic, this idea that we have to work hard and wait for happiness. Remember layaway? Remember our parents saving for things? Making a plan?

But today, I see my kids go through this and they suffer if they even have to wait a day. And as parents, sometimes we're not the best examples. Why wait when you can use a credit card? When you can download that new book or music or game right now, in less than a minute, without even have to go to a store? And yet we still feel that let down over and over and over as some new want, some new carrot is dangled in front of us.

Happiness is staring me in the face. It's right here. It's never apart from me. It is just as much a part of me as my very breath. Yet I keep striving, I keep feeling like something is missing.

And I desperately want to teach my children the very thing that I've failed to learn.


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