|An excellent idea, but not always easy nor the first thing that comes to mind when one is worried or stressed|
Ed. Note: My great friend and, as you know by now, brilliant writer, D.A., is back today musing about life. I could read her for hours even if she were talking about dirt. Somehow she would make it interesting, thought-provoking and maybe even philosophical. That’s just the way she is. If you want more where this came from, please click here.
Have you ever found yourself envious of someone you hardly know?
I was having a bad day – I was cranky, out of sorts, and overreacting to every annoyance. When attempting to coordinate schedules with a “friend of a friend,” I was quickly rankled. Said person leads an enviable life, a rosy life, a carefree life – certainly from the outside looking in.
She’s healthy. Her hubby’s healthy. She has a bubbly grand-baby and a part-time job for fun. There are free-flowing funds, an impeccable home, and two vacations a year along with regular outings. She spends mornings at the gym, and zips around town in a sassy little sports car.Come on. Tell me you wouldn’t be green with envy, too.
A Life Without Worry
No money worries? No health concerns? A 30-year marriage?
Every morning to work out? And gobs of time to spend in your beautiful home?
I confess I’m as aspirational as the next person. I love imagining a life without worry, and thinking through what I could manage to change in order to achieve it – everything from sleeping and eating to the tweaks and touches in my interior style.
In the case of this friend of a friend, the few times I’ve visited her place, I was delightfully enveloped in an arty, elegant, and relaxing ambiance.
One of the most covetous aspects of her enviable life – to me?
She has a maid. Scratch that. I will be politically correct and gender neutral. She avails herself of a housekeeping and housecleaning service provider.
Ah, My Dream Life…
Naturally, in my once-upon-a-time dream world in my once-upon-a-time so-called life, I was to write brilliant prose (and poetry), enjoy a brilliant relationship (with a Frenchman), give birth to healthy and happy kids (brilliant and bilingual), and if possible – have money in the bank.
And of course my home would be welcoming and eclectic, with everything in its place.
Hélas, it isn’t so.
I am in a great relationship (pinching myself), with a truly lovable and tolerant (of my foibles) Frenchman – who cooks! My kids are healthy and reasonably happy (knocking on wood) – though both are experiencing the usual young adult challenges.
While my routines, rhythms, and accomplishments are far from what I once hoped, I’m glad to retain the elements of a female chameleon – or at least a highly adaptive woman. I believe some measure of that adaptability to be an asset, assisting me in eradicating obstacles to my dreams, fighting the food demons when they recur, and nudging me to go with the flow when that’s what my days call for.
Ah, My Real Life…
But oh, what I wouldn’t give for regular help that I could put up with (and afford), who could also put up with me.
I have a once tiny but efficient office, now jammed with my younger son’s music and painting supplies. I have a den I’ve transformed into my office, currently overrun with books, files, supplies, and a stack of shoeboxes in the corner. There is a small but functional kitchen, a living room where I also write at times, my boys’ rooms, my room, and a shocking shortage of closets.
Would that someone could silently clean around me as I mutter and pace, write and pace, as I struggle over a single word (and pace), as I settle in at my work table and disappear for hours into my head while she (or he) – the imaginary cleaning person – attacks the cobwebs, the junk mail, the dusting, the vacuuming, the toilet bowl, the bathtub…
Don’t get me wrong – I love my home, and I’m more than capable of cleaning up after myself. But when you add my workaholic hours and the fatigue, when my head hits the pillow, I’m envious of anyone whose life appears to operate with the elements of “no muss, no fuss” that are decidedly missing chez moi.
Appearances Are Deceiving
Naturally, appearances are deceiving. As to the friend of a friend and her seemingly easy life, I have no idea what lurks beneath the pretty surface of her relationships or her home. All could be well, all could be lousy, or most likely, as with most of us, her world is a mixed bag.
Reality rarely provides the simplicity we might find in a classic suit, in the pages as we view them in our favorite magazines, or even as we spin our romantic lives, committed to doing better a second time around.
There is no knowing the stories of strangers until they choose to let us in, the struggles they’ve survived until they share them with us, the trade-offs they’ve made for what others might perceive as an enviable life.
There are no perfect faces, there are no flawless bodies, there are no trouble-free jobs, there are no fairy tale friendships, there are no worry-free kids, there are no guarantees that our marriages will bring out our better angels rather than our worst selves.
But there’s something else worth aspiring to.
Good Lives, Full Lives, Real Lives
There are good lives with ups and downs, bodies that we find beautiful because of the individuals they house, jobs that enrich us though they tire us out, children we adore who strain our patience, loved ones we cherish – even when they drive us crazy.
So I try not to assume I know the truth of anyone’s life, and I try not to be envious. The former comes easily, and the latter – at times – not so much.
To work my way back to a place of perspective, I remember what I really need and what I don’t, and I gaze at photographs of my sons – one playing with the dog at age five, the other playing his flute at age nine, or both laughing together last Christmas, home from college.
I set aside the negative feelings, aware that if I’m irritable it’s because I’m overtired, overstressed, or I’ve managed to let myself down.
I allow myself a bad day on occasion. That in itself is a kind of freedom in a basically good life, perhaps an enviable life, in which I’m engaged intellectually and emotionally, living and loving, and too busy with what I have to concern myself with what I do not.
Still, I wouldn’t mind a hand with the housekeeping…