When?

Mommy, are we there yet? The woman in the front seat of the car is fighting the urge to turn around and duct tape her Childs’ mouth shut permanently. This phenomenon has happened on every long journey since time began. Then the mother has this flash in her mind that carries her back to the beginning of time and particles smashing together. Maybe it even happened with the sludge of the universe as the bang occurred. Imagine two atoms: “are we there yet? Are we done yet? Can we get on with the Paleozoic era? But duct taping that would have caused a disaster. She smiles to herself and continues to focus on the road ahead.

Maybe in the grand scheme of the cosmos delayed gratification is one of the great laws. The universe took the time it needed to come to its present state. That can teach us something. The universe was formed with only what it had on hand from the first moment all things slammed together and all things followed in order. No credit here. It waited. The universe used its resources where it needed them when it was ready for each new phase.

Let’s face it: putting pleasurable stuff off is a drag but a necessary drag. Delayed gratification is about learning to respect the journey. Delaying is about knowing that you can never have it all instantly. Delaying of gratification is about learning to work for what you get. Waiting for the good stuff until you can have it in a healthy fashion.

What, a myth? You think to yourself as you remember that last flick that showed someone having it all. The great house, car, the wardrobe, job, family and friends and let’s not forget great looks. It doesn’t happen that way. Real success, like the universe we live in, is painstakingly forged one item at a time. Yet, today, there are those who can’t wait. Saving is a thing of the past. Sorting out needs from wants is becoming blurred.

As I write this I’m thinking of several people I know who are spending for the new stuff: all of it state-of-the-art that comes hot off the shelves. They’ve always got the latest and greatest. “Look at this isn’t it cool?” I can’t help thinking in my head and asking if they’ve really stopped to think about what their spending is doing to them? I also can’t help thinking about the fact that the land fill is growing because you can only recycle so much stuff.

Remember childhood with its lazy times of fun and exploration? If you are old enough to have been raised during a time when play was really creative and done outdoors, books were a passage into another world, and not instantly made into movies and TV was something that you watched for very few hours weekly then you are one of those who have learned a valued lesson: doing fun things takes planning and time.

It is also highly probable that chores and learning to work were a natural part of your life. When you were young the web wasn’t an avenue for earing cash so you learned to earn smaller amounts and live within that which you earned. You had to save for what you purchased and it might have taken longer than a week to do so. I remember going to the store to purchase some shoes I’d saved for. For weeks I walked by that store window and looked at those sling backs. Getting them made me feel “adult” and responsible. I earned those shoes. I wore them proudly, repaired them and wore them out. It was about my pride and hard work and that I had done everything to earn them. They weren’t just handed to me.

For each of us the lesson is different, Anticipation is a good thing. Anticipation makes the gift we are receiving more intriguing, the new dress exciting, and the new car that you saved up for more valuable. Anticipation gives a deeper meaning to most things we have and desire. There is a magic about working for something. Keeping it becomes valuable to you because to discard it when it still works means that you are discarding your hard work. Tossing it out just to get the latest is an issue that you question. Do I need this?

As I think of all the technology that has evolved since I was a kid I remember that sunny July day when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon and life as we then knew it was altered. The moment was electric. Now it seems that much of the “electric” has gone out from innovation and progress. Progress is a constant in an advanced society. More and more having it all instantly is a must for many. Trading up for the latest in tech or other stuff when the old is still of value is common. To suggest that you keep what you have might be blasphemy. It is about having the latest and dumping the old. There is a rush on to have it all NOW with no waiting period. Once again I think of those I know who are constantly acquiring.

We now have smart phones, smart drugs and smarter cars and yet we have not become any smarter ourselves. While results are faster we as humans are still finite. We live through our trading up processes no matter what they are. We live thinking and feeling as if all answers must come fast, as if deeper thought should somehow be instant. We want that insight NOW rather than being willing to let life teach us. We might even become impatient when our first few searches on Google fail to turn up what we need. Searching shouldn’t take so much time. Why can’t we get it faster isn’t there an easier method? Finding the correct answer does take some deeper looking and reading. In the process you might conclude that there is not a perfect or good answer to your search and that maybe it DOESN’T live out there in cyberspace.

Remember when science was supposed to save us? Remember when the peace movement was the answer to science? Remember when autonomy was the answer to authority? I think I need to re-read “The Glory and The Dream” (William Raymond Manchester.) The fact is life is cyclic. I think we’re back to “SCIENCE WILL SAVE US.”

Maybe we as a world need duct tape on our gratification instincts. OK that is an intsy weensy bit extreme or is it?

I have taken up baking. It started with bread. It is wonderful to create something that comes out of the oven and is warm and yummy. The fact is baking allows you to wait for the time when eating it will bring the desired pleasures of good food. Just think of something you love melting in your mouth and your brain will light up in anticipation. Your mouth might begin to prepare for the pleasure as you read this. BUT you have to work to make it so you had better make lots of it to enjoy!!!! Yikes!! I want those scones I must make for Saturday and I want them right now!!!

The whole idea for this commentary came from a conversation I had with someone about the guide dog I’m working on getting. (Working name is Eyeeltte) I’ve been in this process since 2010. At this point I just want to move on. I want the whole thing done and over. I’ve had to think about if I’m wanting to move forward because I can’t wait. It feels as if the process has stretched out before me and there is always something else that needs doing.

Like the universe I have had to work with raw thoughts and skills. I’ve had to shape and train them. Thinking about HOW I’ll do something and memorizing routes takes time. I’m fortunate in that I seem to be able to create a map for myself. Learning the train stations and bus stations has been fun but I’m glad I’m past that. For me it is all about map making. Once I made that connection life with mobility skills became easier.

Not only have I had to evaluate my established walking routes and my future needs I’ve had to consider the needs of our cat, Penelope, who will have to welcome a dog into the house. Getting this dog will be life changing and making the correct choice at the right time is important for our family.

I’ve spent 15 months in Apeldoorn learning things that I’ve needed and in some cases lacked. As I’ve learned in Apeldoorn I was also able to observe those with dogs. My process is of more value because of all of this. It has become more about the global me and has included the dog as part of that new global identity.

While I don’t want to rush things I feel the time has come to move things along. It isn’t about “when” but rather about the process and how secure I feel with it. Had the process gone faster the end result might not have been what I envision it to be at this point in time. “Eyelette, where are you?

Childhood is all about getting there. Young adulthood seems to be moving in the direction of attempting to get it as fast as possible and show it off. Eventually there comes a time in life when you reach “wisdom” or the point in time when you grok that you never will fully have everything you think you need but that you can have the needful things. The journey is what it is all about. Saving up for the good stuff is where the greatest reward lies. Understanding our real needs and allowing ourselves to have wants that might become realities brings peace and greater life expectations.

Back in the car the woman in the driver’s seat has an idea and says “Yes honey, count the green and red cars and tell me how many you can find by the time we get to grandmas place.” It is a low tech game but one that will let her child observe the road. I too will be content to count the red and green cars until Eyelette enters my life. I hope it is sooner than later because I feel better about Eyelette coming into my life now.

Advertisements

About Gail Nicolaysen-Shurtleff

I am an American who is living in The Netherlands. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist with a license to practice in California. Music has been a huge part of my life. Singing is something you can find me doing at any time and anywhere. I have to admit that I try to not sing while out in public though. You can also find me in the kitchen cooking up wonderful things. cooking is something that I have just recently (in the last ten years) discovered that I'm talented at doing, and it is really fun. The best way to know me is to read my blog.
This entry was posted in What it's about and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s