It was a small thing, really.
I’d met a goal. I’d made something happen. I felt good about myself.
I wanted to celebrate but it wasn’t the kind of thing that would interest anyone else – no one but me would probably see the significance – so I took myself out to lunch.
I walked into a little restaurant, sat down at a table by the window and ordered my favorite item on the menu.
Before my food arrived I took a minute to think about what I had accomplished. It was embarrassingly small in the grand scheme of things, but it mattered a great deal to me. I’d worked hard for such a little prize and I wanted to savor the moment.
And then, because I’m a worrier, I automatically flipped the thing that just seconds ago had made me so happy.
What is wrong with me, I asked myself, that I could be so easily satisfied? Why don’t I want more? Why don’t I demand more of myself?
Ah, but why, I thought, would anyone expect more of me?
And, I wanted to know, what made me think it would last?
Nothing good ever lasts.
By the time my food arrived I was as wilted as yesterday’s salad. I was a balloon that had lost its air. I was embarrassed by my silly exuberance just minutes before.
I was alone, but I found myself hiding my face, turning away from the light of the window. And that’s when I became aware of the women at the table beside me.
Both were in their 40s, probably a little younger than me, good looking and well dressed. Both had good haircuts, good shoes and good purses. They’d just finished a good meal accompanied by a glass or two of good wine.
These women obviously had it good.
But what struck me was the subject of their conversation; the underlying theme to everything they said.
Apparently, things just weren’t good enough.
One complained about her house, about how long the remodel was taking and how difficult it was to make do while waiting for the new stove, refrigerator and granite to be delivered. About how hard it had been to find a good contractor.
“I’m so tired of dealing with it all,” she said. “I’m tired of eating out every night.”
The other woman didn’t have any sympathy.
“I wish I had your problem,” she said. “I’m tired of going into the kitchen every night trying to decide what to fix for dinner.”
They talked about the bother of planning vacations and weekends away, about how difficult it was to get time off from their jobs, to make their husbands take time off from work; about how hard it was to keep the children happy and out of trouble.
From where I was sitting, it seemed as though the women were everything I was suddenly aware I am not. They were beautiful and successful and it sounded like they had it all.
But, just as I had felt when I took the shine off my own moment, they weren’t happy with what they had.
That isn’t totally true, of course. I’m sure they love their children and their husbands. They like their nice houses. They enjoy working and traveling and having nice things around them. They just lost sight of that for a moment.
I hadn’t done it out loud, but I was guilty of the same lack of gratitude as the pair at the other table. I’d taken something good, something sweet and very personal and deliberately looked at it seeing nothing but flaws and dark shadows.
That’s not anything to be proud of.
If someone had tried to take from me the pleasure and satisfaction I was feeling when I walked into the restaurant and sat down, I wouldn’t have let them. I would have stood up to them.
But it never occurred to me to fight myself.
Most of us live busy lives that are full of little moments and big challenges that bring small accomplishments.
But if we don’t take the time to recognize the good things, large and small; if we don’t make an effort to appreciate and celebrate it all, to congratulate ourselves for a job well done and focus on the good stuff all around us, then what does it matter?
Good will never be good enough.