One of the most common questions I've fielded since my author career took off is when I plan to quit my day job.
After I stop laughing, I usually point out that my duties as the part-time PR and communications manager for my city's tourism bureau include taking journalists out for beer tours and snowshoeing, or sampling hamburgers all over town so I can write about the best ones. To get me to quit, they will need to drag me from the building by my hair.
Last spring, the marketing team at a nearby luxury resort invited me to bring my family for a weekend visit. They wanted to make sure I was knowledgeable enough about the resort's amenities to describe them to visiting journalists. As you might imagine, this was a great hardship.
To say this place was beyond my regular budget is akin to suggesting it might be outside my authorial comfort zone to write books about quantum chromodynamics and the interactions of subnuclear particles.
On our second night there, my gentleman friend and I were checking the kids in at the activity center when a well-dressed couple walked through the door. Gliding across the beautiful tiled lobby in a cloud of expensive perfume, the woman remarked to the concierge that they were headed to the poolside bar for a cocktail.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," the concierge informed her grimly. "That bar closed thirty minutes ago, but both restaurants are open with fully-stocked bars and expansive mountain views."
The woman gaped at him. Then she turned to her husband with a plaintive wail. "Why does this keep happening to us?!"
There was a moment of silence while everyone in the lobby digested her words. Even the woman herself seemed to realize what a pungent cloud of privileged melodrama she'd just released into the air.
She gave an uneasy laugh. "I mean, we came by last night and it wasn't open, and then–" she stopped, sensing she'd lost her audience. "We'll go try the lodge." They hurried away, her high heels clicking across the lobby.
My gentleman friend turned to his offspring. "See that, kids? That's what entitlement looks like."
The teachable moment extended beyond the children. In the six months since then, it's become a catch phrase in our household. Whenever one of us is poised to descend into a pit of pointless, hand-wringing, self-despair, someone will break out the histrionic wail.
"Why does this keep happening to us?!"
It's a reminder to keep things in perspective. To remember that whether you've burned dinner or stubbed your toe or mistakenly deleted the sex scene you spent all afternoon writing, at least you have dinner or toes or sex scenes.
Not everyone is so lucky.
It reminds me of this video campaign that circulated a year ago
featuring impoverished, third-world citizens reading a variety of
first-world woes. If you want a little perspective about the difficulties in your own life, take one minute to check it out.
Is there anything that routinely helps you to take a step back and gain a new perspective on the things you might perceive as major problems? Please share!