I don’t like to think of myself as an ingrate, but my entire life points to the fact that I am. And, lest you think I’m being characteristically too hard on myself, I hasten to point out that I most definitely am not alone, nor am I the worst-case example.
Being an ingrate is often directly related to being greedy. If I have something, I want to keep it. If I do not have something I want, I feel deprived and am envious of those who have it. I do not like endings. If there is something I enjoy doing or have enjoyed doing in the past, I want and fully expect to keep on enjoying it forever. I do not let go of the past, because to do so is to sever my connection to whatever I am clinging to.
I cannot stand the thought of loss of anything or anyone I do not want to lose. I can understand and appreciate the wisdom of the saying, “Do not grieve over those you have lost, but rejoice that you had them as long as you did.” But I cannot. I still grieve the loss—and as time passes there are more and more losses—of family, friends, lovers, pets, physical abilities. The pain is, like the scab on a wound covered over by passing time, but all it takes is a conscious thought to reopen it. Knowing that I am the only one who can change this, who can let go, is far easier acknowledged than done.
It all stems, I know, from my absolute inability/refusal to accept reality. Reality is the flesh and bone prison in which the mind and soul are held captive. It may be a comfortable prison, but it is a prison nonetheless. Part of my ingratitude is based on the fact that while my own personal prison has been very good to me and served me exceptionally well, I have even so always resented that others have prisons far younger and more beautiful than mine.
I like to think I still have many childlike—as opposed to childish—qualities, even while realizing that they come with a price not conducive to life in the real world. One of these childlike qualities, unfortunately, is the child’s concept of “mine!” If I have something I want, or have had it, I expect to have it forever. Period.
In truth, I am blessed in so very many ways, and I do appreciate those things I have. I just want more, and seem incapable of simply accepting what I have. There have been so many truly wonderful times in my life—memories I treasure and hold within my heart, things I have done, places I’ve been, people who have graced my life with their presence—why can I not simply accept that and appreciate it, and let it go? I can’t. I want to be able to relive every pleasurable moment of my life over and over, like re-reading a favorite book or listening again and again to a favorite piece of music.
I am not so far removed from reality that I do not know full well that there are countless numbers of people whose lives are infinitely and incomprehensibly more difficult than mine; whose courage and bravery in just getting through another day shames me for being the ingrate I am. But the often-vast gaps between who we should and want to be and who we in fact are is part of human existence.
In the final analysis, Popeye is once again right when he says “I yam what I yam,” and there are things we cannot change no matter how hard we try.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1), which is also available as an audiobook (http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00DJAJYCS&qid=1372629062&sr=1-1).