Wednesday, April 09, 2008
You can't always get what you want
Weed? or flower? I guess it depends on who is doing the looking and what they're expecting out of that space.
You can't always get what you want.
Mick Jagger was bellowing this song around the beginning of my life, and I think it makes a pretty decent life theme song.
I don't recall when it was exactly that I figured out that the song had an application to my life. In other words, I am not really sure when I figured out that the rules of life weren't applied fairly. Was it because I had something someone else didn't? Or was it because someone else had something I didn't? Because I was a young child, I figure it had to be something that basic.
Maybe, as a child, I experienced too many large and powerful things that were completely out of my control. Back then, adults didn't care what kids thought or wanted, at least not on the whole, at least not like now. Back then, adults assumed that kids were resilient. They assumed kids didn't notice. They figured kids would be happy when adults were happy
That's not quite the truth.
Kids don't really care if adults are happy. Kids care that life is stable. They want the life they know. I don't recall ever giving a penny whistle whether my parents were happy. It didn't occur to me to wonder whether adults were happy. They could go anywhere and do anything. They had cars and money. What more could you want?
In fact, I'm not sure that I ever believed that happy was an intended state of being. I suspected it was a treat you got every now and again, such as ice cream from the singing truck or penny candy from the corner store, with occasional infusions of pure joy, such as getting to go to the circus.
You can't always get what you want
After my parents divorced, the years that followed were either very trying years or my glory days, depending upon which story I tell or the tone I adopt. I am very good at shifting perspective. I think people who live lives like mine always are, whether it is for ourselves or others.
The truth is that either version is true.
Those are the years that taught me to use my words.
At some point, it occurred to me that life challenges were inequitably distributed. At some point, it seemed as if I might at times have a few more, a little above average, if you will. I'm not sure if I noticed this myself or if it was pointed out to me. I hated equally the people who pointed it out and the people who belittled this feeling.
Nothing annoys me half so much as those who think how their lives work can or should be applied to others (including, especially, when I engage in this myself)---except, maybe, those who think because they've heard worse, your story has little to no merit.
But if you try sometimes you might find...You get what you need
Then we decided to have children.
That was the moment above all others when I realized---if I hadn't grasped it yet---that life doesn't always go according to your plan.
If it does, that's fantastic. Enjoy it. Lap it up.
But do not take credit for it. In my humble opinion.
This doesn't mean I think that we shouldn't note and feel good about working hard and graduating college with honors, or putting forth effort and getting a job, or realize that because we put in effort we accomplished something, and yes, that's something we did.
It's when people take credit for things that are beyond their control. It makes me smile indulgently, or sometimes it makes me clench my lips. As people who fancy themselves older and more experienced often do, I figure that someday, people who think that way are going to find out that the world is not in the palm of their hand, but as a caring person, I hope that day never really comes.
I often run across magical thinking like this. The people who engage in it are happy to share their philosophies with you, about how everything is within your grasp if only you go about life in the right way. They are happy to tell you how it worked for them, and what you ought to be doing.
If you try to share "eh, doesn't always go the way you want, you know, you can't always get what you want, and maybe there's a reason for that, maybe we aren't always wanting what we need..." then they will tell you that a divided heart is your greatest obstacle. In short, they will make it your fault, whatever it is that isn't going the way you'd hoped. You haven't been wishing right, like on the wrong star or a spell with the incorrect words.
So you learn to bite your tongue, most of the time, and appreciate that they found something that works for them, and understand that the converted are always the most zealous.
I wish I had a dime for every time someone told me that pregnancy was within my control. My kids would have a paid for Ivy League education. "Just relax and visualize it and it will come to you."
That's new age thinking I'd let go of a while back. Although it considers itself Eastern or Asian or rooted in something foreign and therefore good, it's actually so very American: a democratic application of fate---everyone has equal opportunity to get the brass ring.
I count myself a realist, and I believe that life has some sort of balance. It's not per se a price you have to pay, but I do believe that life asks something of you.
My life has asked me to understand that I am not necessarily the maker of the picture on the puzzle box that is my experience here on earth. It has taken nearly forty years, but I have slowly come to realize that when things aren't working, I am probably trying to manhandle the wrong piece into the open spot. I have learned that I need to step back, pause, ponder, look, and see if a different piece is a better fit.
There is a time that I must be the driver, and other times I have to let _________ take the wheel.
There have been too many moments that seemed too predestined, too coincidental, too ordained, too masterplanned. It all seems to be leading somewhere. This isn't a permission slip to sit back and let my life run on without my direct involvement, though. I have to be active. That may mean I get lost at times, hang on to the wheel too long at other times, or I may on occasion sit back and doze off in the passenger seat.
I don't know that this means I believe in fate. I don't think free will and destiny need to be mutually exclusive. I don't know that I believe everything happens for a reason.
I do think it can seem that way sometimes.
But I don't think you can make that a principle; it's more of an anecdote.
When things go your way, you probably were asking for a miracle, but just because it came doesn't mean that asking made it happen---will always make it happen.
I consider that magical thinking, and as much as my superstitious self might engage in it, I rarely let myself take credit or blame. Taking credit requires presenting a picture of worthiness, and I don't like to ponder the flip side of that, much less the exceptions or corollaries to it.
I do know that it makes sense to go ahead and try, do your best, hope, work for it, and enjoy what comes along as you want.
When you hit this place, it's a balance. It's a peace. It's a contentment, with little forays into happy.
It's pretty good.
Entitlement, now, is another discussion altogether.
What do you think about fate?
Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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