I was so ready to hate Manhattan, armed with the ammunition of every negative city stereotype. My children will grow up materialistic and entitled (of course totally unrelated to my own problems with materialism and entitlement), I’d never again see the inside of a car or Target, we’d be constantly pressed for space, and can you imagine a worse Hell for a mother than having to carry all of your groceries 15 blocks while wielding a fussy baby?
Ha. Hard pressed to.
I was really ready to hate the city. Prepared, even. The subways were built before the American Disabilities Act so good luck navigating that with a stroller. Or a wheelchair, I guess.
Well, here I am, six months in and I’ll be darned if I don’t love it here. Sure, I miss driving but I love walking. Sure it’s crowded, but I love having friends at arms length. Sure it’s packed with tourists, but a five minute walk will get you to Wall Street or a view of the Statue of Liberty and you can see the World Trade Center from the treadmills in our gym. Sure, we don’t have money for anything but diapers and food after the rent, but hey, we have money for diapers and food!
Gratitude is a powerful thing.
I could still hate it if I want. That option always exists. There’s always plenty to hate. Heck, with entitlement I can easily light fire to every good thing in my life, burn it all to the ground. Well what if I want the Met, the Guggenheim AND a backyard and four bedroom house? What if I want ridiculously beautiful and well-kept parks AND less people to share them with? What if I want Shake Shack AND Georgetown Cupcake?
Wait, no we do have both of those.
That’s how I’ve been living lately and it’s not happy-making. I never appreciated what an insidious cancer entitlement is, eating away at every gift life has to offer with the insistent and blind assessment that this is not enough.
What is enough, really?
I’ve met people rich and poor, talented and average, attractive and unattractive who think they somehow lack. Our physical circumstances are never able to alter this mindset so unless we actively choose gratitude, we are stuck.
And by gratitude I’m not referring to some trick of the mind or positive thinking. Just as there are many shortfalls to the city– as there are with any place on the planet– so are there many unique and wonderful aspects to it. These things really do exist. All I have to do is choose which I am going to dwell on. If I am aware and appreciative of all the good, I can’t help but be happy.
After all, I’ve got a pretty good life. I live in a lively city, have many people in my life that really care about me, a wonderful husband and an opportunity to raise a family in a healthy environment. It doesn’t get any better than this. People say, “I can’t complain,” but I really can. Today I simply choose not to.