Skip to main content

Minding the Gap

My youngest discovered a new game on my phone. Tiles glide up the screen to classical music and the goal is to tap the dark ones. 

Variations include the tiles speeding up and slowing down, more or fewer tiles, varied colors, etc.  I get dizzy just watching  and am pretty sure he will do some serious damage to his eyes if he plays for long.  Clever designer though---the classical music somehow makes me feel, as a parent, it can't be all bad. 

Recently he was on a roll and announced he might reach 1000 successful taps.

I watched over his shoulder as his score climbed; his fingers beating a staccato rhythm on the screen. As he got closer, I held my breath hoping he would make it:  856, 910, 980, 1000....1021!  

"Look mom!  Look!", his face beamed in pure joy as he swung around to show me the screen.

"Awesome job honey! I saw! You were CRAZY fast!"  I planted a big noisy kiss on his velvet cheek.

As I turned back to the task of pulling dinner together, he swung back around in the chair and started another round.

"What are you doing now honey?"

"I am trying to beat my score of 1021."

I frowned.  Wow.

"Hey how about before you start the next try, come and help me set the table."

Now it was his turn to frown.  I gave him "the look" (the one where I think I look like Stephen Colbert ) and he put down my phone, swinging his legs around the side of the chair and hefting his 75 pounds out of the chair toward the kitchen (like he had bowling balls in his pockets).

How do I explain this to a nine year old?  I think the old me would have have snapped something like, 'take a break from that thing!  You should be happy! OK? Let's go!'

But I see things differently now, and hopefully I can share this with him.  

So I tried to explain the happiness gap and it goes something like this:  You set yourself a goal, in itself, not a bad thing.  The 'bad thing' happens if you decide you will not be happy until you reach this goal. Each set back becomes a failure and at some point, if you are not careful, you can start to believe that you do not deserve to be happy, which weakens your efforts, which fuels your failure which reinforces the message that you are a failure and happiness is always somewhere, out there, in the future and possibly, unachievable.

But let's say you do achieve your goal.  What happens next?  Most often, we immediately set another goal.  Or perhaps, we go to the list of goals, often an arms length long, check off #1 and move immediately to #2, furious for taking so long and looking longingly at goal #3.  

Happiness, satisfaction, celebration never come.  We are too busy minding the gap between where we are now, and our perceived happiness we will achieve once we reach our goal.  Happiness is always on hold.  It is the dangling carrot; the sliding gap between where we are and where we want to be.

I don't think this will ever change and I am not suggesting it should.  However, there is another part to this story that is forgotten; dismissed like an after thought, written off as 'nothing'; and that is the acknowledgement of the gap between where you were, and where you now are.  

Instead of looking foward all the time, we need to balance our perspective to include looking back. Minding all the steps we made in THAT gap---from setting the goal to achieving it. The good part is, it only takes a moment.  The BEST part is that moment of  look at me, look what I did, look what I achieved allows opens up your heart to the happiness, joy and success it needs to give you a life of meaning.  

From the minute you are born, you are rushing toward death---morbid reality I am afraid---so why not find ways to enjoy the journey, because in the end, that is all you have. 

My youngest is goal driven, hard on himself and as I watch his slouched shoulders and downcast eyes heading my way, the only thing I can do is hope we can work to mind the gap he has just crossed.

"Can you believe you got over 1000?" I asked trying to pull him from his brood.

"Yeah.... so I want to try to beat it!" he whined.

"Ok, I get that honey.  But what about getting to 1000?  That was pretty amazing! When you first started playing that game did you ever think you would get to 1000?"

"No, I was only getting like 25 or 30".

"Right, so 1000 is HUGE!!!"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"How do you think you did it?  What made this time special?"

He paused a moment, his eyes softening their focus as he replayed the game; describing the pressure, the strategy, the excitement.  His voice grew more and more animated and a smile bloomed on his face as he neared the 1000 mark.  

He finished, flush and breathless.

I put up my hands for a high ten, and he obliged.  

"Maybe after dinner I can try to beat my score!" he moved around the table placing cutlery in a focused manner, a determined look on his face--the brooding gone.

"Sure honey.  But for now, let's celebrate 1021."

And we did. 


Popular posts from this blog

Shame is A Full-Contact Emotion (Brené Brown)

It is a cool outside this morning and I have on my fluffy red robe as I sit outside and watch the birds flit back and forth from the fence to the feeder----arrogantly tossing aside imperfect sunflower seeds to get to the good ones.

The discarded seeds, some empty, some full, punctuate my deck, waiting for the squirrels, who will later claim this easy buffet.
I am still reading Brené and The Gifts of Imperfection.

Feels a bit like learning a new language ---I see the words---I hear the words---but the meaning is so diffuse...I need to read and reread and sometimes, even read out loud to make the words stick

It is hard work.

And while the smooth cover of her book lies balanced on my palm, seemingly weightless, many of the concepts have a density that knocks me flat on my ass ---like a large medicine ball.
CATCH THIS ONE!Oooooooof!I am down.

Eyes wide, trying to catch my breath, wrestling with the weight of hefty concepts like shame, authenticity, wholeheartedness, courage, compassion, connect…

Taking a Lesson from Work

Maybe it's because I am on this spiritual journey, or maybe it is because I have time to read blogs and cruise the web, but 2014 seems a bit obnoxious so far.  
Really IN YOUR FACE. Ok so it is not quite like this, but...... ....picture in your mind a saloon type town in the old west. 

Got it? 

Ok so now add a slick looking guy standing up on a wooden crate, surrounded by a crowd of people.  Beside the crate is a table, and on it are dozens bottles.
He clears his throat, throws out his arms, and announces:

AND IF NOT, WHY NOT? OMG you think!!! (well OMG probably wasn't around then but...)  

OMG I think I heard a few things in there that I need to fix!!!!  Actually, I KNO…

Lesson's From Frozen and Taylor Swift

"Let it go....let it go...." and "Shake it off...shake it off."
I alternate between these two borrowed mantra for this time--- when the world seems too loud and bright. Even my clothes touching my skin is too much.  I yank off my sweater, and hop step out of my pants while walking upstairs to my room after work, finally able to breath once the edges of sleeves, cowls of turtlenecks and waistbands of tights no longer feel like burning, scratching sun burn.   
My skin feels too tight as I try to keep myself together in this package that is required to carry out my daily tasks.  
"This is not my circus. These are not my monkeys."
"Your lack of planning is not my emergency."
It is far too easy to get caught up in the drama of things that are so divisive---as you try to separate yourself by thinking it is not your problem or it is not my fault or I am better than this or I don't need anyone - when we should be connecting to each other in a supportive …