My friend, Lily, just got engaged. Mazel tov, mazel tov, the sound of breaking glass is not far behind. (For those who don’t know, under the chuppah, or wedding canopy, the groom steps on a glass at the end of the ceremony to recall the destruction of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E.)
Lily, who should have been happy, instead was disappointed. Her fiancé had dressed up in a tuxedo and got down on one knee and bought her cards expressing his love. But it just wasn’t what she had imagined would happen and it was all sort of anti-climactic.
When I worked at National Lampoon, I once wrote an article called, “Fantasy vs. Reality Sex.” In one column was what I thought would happen; in the other column was what actually happened. Fantasy: “He has a well-trimmed mustache.” Reality: “He has long hairs sticking out of his nostrils.”
Isn’t it often like this? I often think how I’m going to feel if only this or that happens. And then the thing happens but it’s not what I wanted.
After I wrote The Mom Who Took Off On Her Motorcycle, I went up to meet my ex-literary agent in her fancy office in New York City. I thought it would be so exciting to meet her and have her tell me what a fabulous book I wrote. I got there and her assistant spoke to me for a while and then the agent walked in and said, “Oh, so you’re the one who wrote the motorcycle book.” She spoke to me for a few minutes, and then returned to her inner office.
And that was it.
I still need to remind myself that those very things that I think will make me happy, that will fill me up, that will bring me peace and joy won’t do the job.It’s the other things, the daily things. Taking care of myself each day. Taking care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. The other things are important, of course, but I find that sometimes if I set myself up with huge expectations, disappointments can’t be far behind.
This is what it is. This is what I’ve got. I want to try to appreciate what I have right here, right now. So now I come to the answer to the headline, Who is rich? That’s what a rabbi who called himself Ben Zoma asks in the Talmud. The one who is happy with what he has. So congratulations to Lily and may her days be filled with joy!
PS. For those of you who were wondering why I disappeared…I’m in the midst of finishing my next novel and I have to get back to work…