I admit today that there is no difference between a to-do list and a wish list. Wanting an apartment of my own, but “hoping” I’ll “magically” be “given” one is no different than pacing my floor, planning to achieve it through manipulation and hard work. It’s still focusing on what I want, or think I need, instead of appreciating what I’ve been given.
Talk of lists was born from dissatisfaction with current events, such as the frustrations of raising someone else’s children, living in someone else’s house, and sleeping beneath someone else’s duvet cover. Savvy readers may point out that last month’s frustrations, different and yet forgotten, suggest all my bellyaching is merely that: chronic dissatisfaction.
There are just as many “right” things as there are “wrong” about my present circumstances, yet I do not obsess on how blessed and fortunate I am, because I foolishly imagine the phrase, “I want,” actually affects my future.
Picture this. The short order cook pushes your blue plate special across the counter to the waiter, who sets it before you. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, a tall Coke on ice, silverware rolled in a paper napkin. For whatever reason, you believe that you have to order dinner a day in advance, so you warn the waiter that you will not have meatloaf the next day, but spaghetti. It’s not that you love or hate either meal, you just fear what he’ll serve you if you don’t specify. The waiter rolls his eyes and returns to drying juice glasses.
You enjoy your meatloaf, but are convinced that tomorrow’s meal, spaghetti, will be the best meal ever.
The next day, you walk in, worrying so much about whether or not the waiter remembered your order, you miss the writing on the specials board: World’s Best Chicken Pot Pie! which happens to be your favorite meal in the entire world. You sit down, hands clenched, breath held, until the spaghetti is set before you. “Thanks,” you say, and dig in, feeling triumphant, but lacking. Chili, you think, with corn bread. I’ll ask him for chili with corn bread tomorrow and that will be the best meal ever.
You think that if you hadn’t ordered spaghetti you would have had to eat some disgusting casserole involving cream of mushroom soup and canned green beans. You forget that you almost always have the opportunity to ask for a different dinner, even at the last moment, and if you miss that chance, you can find a different diner, and if you’re too tired and hungry to walk down the street, you can settle for a cup of java and slice of pie. There’s usually an alternative to whatever it is that’s scaring you so much, and if there isn’t any alternative, if you absolutely have to eat gooey casserole and limp beans… what is the point of worrying about it?
This is Fate’s Diner. You order whatever you like, and you eat whatever you’re given. Have a Tums, read the newspaper, and be glad.