There’s an old joke. A man is at the wailing wall – detailing his trials and tribulations, and begging God to help him. To allow him to just win the lottery, because with the troubles he has, money would solve a lot. He goes back each week, his list of woes getting longer and more awful. Until eventually God yells from heaven in exasperation: “Shlomo, help me out here, buy a damn ticket.”
Every now and then sofamother and I amuse ourselves by discussing what we would do “if we were rich”. My mom does buy the ticket – so she’s got a work in progress, I haven’t yet sourced how I am going to come up with the money. Her musings involve giving most of the windfall to her kids (aah – that’s how I get it) and going on a great holiday. And mine centre around what I would and would not change in my life.
No flights of fantasy for me, I’m a pragmatic, frugal, dreamer.
I would still work, stay in the same house and drive the same car. But I would hire a chef and masseuse and have a massage each day while my chef was making dinner. I wouldn’t change my style: but I would buy my trousers from Celine, my sweaters at Loro Piano, and my shoes and bags at Hogan. But that is pretty much it: “I like my life as it is.”, I told my mom, “I don’t want to add anything extra”. “I know”, she said – “your dad and I were just saying that you are in a very good place at the moment.”
And I am: I have exactly the right amount of everything. I feel balanced, able, content and competent. I am working well with what I have.
Getting here has taken a while. And it has been a slow build of simple things. But it has also been a set intent and an understanding of myself. Of the 54-year old version of me that is, not the 24-, 34- or 44-year old. Those girls would have wanted different things. There have been missteps and deliberate, difficult choices made along the way. A slimming down of ambition and a recutting of my cloth to suit the more lightweight coat that now makes up my daily wardrobe. But more than that, I have learned that my happiness comes from the simplest of things like:
- Rewatching The Sopranos Season 1: The relationship between Tony and Jennifer Melfi is brilliantly written. And the ducks.
- Cutting my hair really short again. I stopped listening to people who have been telling me that short hair is butch. Who cares.
- Jack’s wagging tail when he sees my parents. That he will go for a walk with my mom. That she likes to take him for a walk. That yesterday she headed off with him so I would have one thing less to do when I got home.
- Hearing the Nans sing as they wandered around doing this and that after dinner on Tuesday night.
- Standing under a stream of piping hot water in our outdoor shower – the wind was a little chilly, the moon was a sliver and the air smelt like Star Jasmine and the sea.
Break those down and you find me: appreciating art, doing what I want to do, seeing connection between creatures I love, listening to music and enjoying nature. Nothing complicated.
At the beginning of the week I wrote that I wanted to believe in heaven. The loss of that sweet life is still painful, but the reflection that has come with it is an unexpected gift. I took a close look at what my life is and how I am in it – and it’s a winner. No ticket required.