We had a really perfect weekend that included a trip to Broadway to see the play Pippin, which I had seen when I was 12, my first Broadway play. Now I was back with Carole, her sister, and the kids, and it amazes me to think of all that’s happened to me in the past 40 years. Forty years ago I hadn’t yet started to drink (unless you count the drinks my family gave me when I was a baby and toddler), but I had so many of the character traits that would spell disaster a short time later. Now I can experience this and honestly say it was about perfect. We even got to meet Erika’s new boyfriend, and that went well, except when, less than an hour into knowing him, Carole asked him if he has Asperger’s. We will find out how forgiving he is, and if he has a sense of humor, and we have a new family story to tell (and tell and tell).
I have a short illustration of how gratitude works in my real life (as opposed to how I may say it works at meetings when asked). Nicholas drove to Carole’s sister’s house with us, leaving his car at our house. His car has one of those European license plates on the front. Ornamental. I felt sure, after the car had been here for a day, that the bent corner of the license plate was newly bent. Carole looked at it and said someone had tried to steal it.
I felt bad about that for several reasons. I didn’t like the thought of someone doing that basically right outside our bedroom window while we slept. And I felt bad that Nicholas would feel bad. I hate to think of my child (25 years old) feeling bad about something like that.
As I drove to work, thinking about it, I almost immediately made myself buck up. It came to my mind automatically and quickly that there are mothers of 25-year-old sons all over the world having much worse days than I was having. Mothers who are separated from their sons and not able to know how they are. Mothers of sons who are sick, or dying, or starving, or sad. That is basically how it works for me. I knew right away that this was a tiny, luxury problem, and that I shouldn’t give it any more of my day. And I mostly didn’t.
When Carole broke the news to Nicholas about this tragedy, he told her that he had bent it himself, hitting it with his garage door. No one tried to steal it. If he felt bad, it was when he damaged it himself. So it’s a doubly good thing that I didn’t waste more than a little time feeling bad about this thing that didn’t even happen.
I’ve learned through the years to mostly turn away from those negative thoughts and emotions, if I can, as quickly as I can. I had a perfect weekend and, at least for that short period of time, nothing bad happened to me or mine. One day something will and then there will be plenty of time to feel bad about it. I don’t need to practice.