Friday, July 16, 2010
The Other Side of the Fence. Friday, July 16, 2010.
“The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but you still have to mow it.” – Proverb
Recently I talked to a man who is considering divorce. There’s nothing particularly wrong with his marriage; he and his wife are “best friends” and get along well. They have two daughters and a son, and a very nice house in the suburbs. But he can’t stop thinking about the freedom of his bachelor days.
“My wife’s a good woman, but I’m just bored,” he says. “I look at my single friends, and they have such interesting lives. They go where they want, whenever they want to, and I’m stuck mowing the lawn and taking the girls to Scout meetings.”
I also talked to a woman who was divorced several years ago. “I’ve been alone for four years, and so I get sad a lot,” she says. “I need someone in my life.”
Both of these individuals feel depressed. And both believe their lives could be better in the future if something different happened. They are “waiting to be happy.”
As time goes on, I’m able to look with more clarity on my life, and I see now that I spent many years “waiting to be happy.” I was single longer than any of my friends. My career stagnated more than once. I lived in some small towns where the snail’s pace and social intolerance drove me nuts.
My inner dialogue was full of “I’ll be happy whens.” I’ll be happy when I don’t have exams to study for … I’ll be happy when I get a better job … I’ll be happy when I find a boyfriend … I’ll be happy when I’m a mother … when … when … when.
The problem with “I’ll be happy whens” is that when “when” finally comes, another “when” is waiting just around the corner. When the baby’s born … when she sleeps through the night … when she’s done teething … when she’s potty trained. Suddenly, she’s graduating from high school. When were you happy? All along, or not yet?
There’s a reason why they say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. For those of us who struggle with depression, our own grass is dead and brown, and our neighbor’s grass lush and green. But it’s very possible that from our neighbor’s standpoint, his is the grass that is dead, and ours is the grass that is alive.
All we really have today is the grass that’s under our feet now. We might not ever be able to climb over that fence to stand on the other grass, so we have to keep tending to our own.