When I was about 5, I was spending half of my day in morning kindergarten and the other half playing in a sandbox at Andrew's house. His mother graciously agreed to watch me for the afternoons while my Mom juggled the fine line of being a great employee and finding enough family time.
Sometime in the next year Andrew and his family moved out of state and I moved onto full time first grade. One fall afternoon I learned that they were coming to visit us! I was giddy with excitement. Andrew and I always had so much fun playing together, we were such great playmates that we actually got 'married' with vows, rings, and cheering moms.
When their white mini van pulled onto our blacktop driveway, I raced for the front door! Andrew matched my speed and we met smile to smile only separated by a thin piece of glass; the front door. We hugged and said our hello's and we're about to run off to play when Andrew's mother reminded him that , "didn't he leave something special in the car?"
A grinning, freckled face Andrew cheerfully exclaimed that he had a present for me! Immediately visions of a pink Barbie box danced through my head, or even better Kitchen Littles. In less than a minute, I had created such high expectations through my own greediness that when I unwrapped a hand-drawn and masterfully colored picture of a butterfly, I was secretly devastated. Publicly I smiled, exclaimed I loved it, and put it in my room. Eventually my mom hung it on my wall.- my daily reminder.
For years I carried this memory around with me, and a subtle reminder of selfishness, disappointment, and learning to gracefully move on. To this day, reliving this memory still makes me painfully aware and even uncomfortable of my own personal greed. I struggle distinguishing between needs and wants. I was so wrapped up in my own personal greediness and pettiness that I couldn't fully appreciate what I was given; a gorgeous and heartfelt gesture. A beautiful picture that I could cherish for years. Instead, I was disappointed that they didn't give me a plastic doll with absurd proportions and too-tiny clothes.
For a very long time I kept that picture. When I moved away to Virginia, I believe I let that picture go. Although I may not have that picture anymore, I will always carry that memory and that humiliating lesson and how it made me grow as a person.
While I still have flaws, and I still struggle, I simply understand these things make us human. We can only expect to grow and learn and become better people. Today, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed grumbling about nothing. I was holding onto my selfish ideas that I had for the day, that the day wasn't delivering and I felt that same humiliating disappointment that I did way back when I was unwrapping that fragile picture. However it's days like today that I need to relive that memory in order to appreciate that it's all part of living. And I really, really like living.