Like most kids, I could be an ungrateful little snot. When I was four or five years old I remember desperately wanting a drum set for Christmas. And not just a little bongo or cheap plastic toy: I dreamed of having a full-on kit spectacular enough to make Neil Peart weep in envy. In my mind, that Christmas represented my first step toward becoming a rock god.
By the time Christmas morning finally arrived I was a bundle of excited energy; practically vibrating with anticipation. However, Neil Peart would shed no tears that Christmas. But I certainly would. The lavish drum set I convinced myself I’d be receiving was nowhere to be found beneath the tree. Instead, Santa had delivered me a little toy guitar.
I have no recollection of what happened next (I likely repressed the traumatic memory). But my Mom and older siblings remember it well. As the story goes, my disappointment steadily grew throughout the holidays. Until one day I found myself on the back porch of the house with my guitar.
Grabbing the little wooden guitar by its neck I lifted it high over my head. And screaming the words “I WANT A DRUM!” I swung it with all my might onto the porch and smashed that gift from Santa into a billion pieces.
Not my proudest Christmas moment.
Moral of the story: Buddhism teaches that attachment is the root of suffering. My attachment to the notion that I was going to get a drum set for Christmas set me up for epic disappointment. I felt as though I had been denied what I was entitled to and those feelings ultimately boiled over in a fit of guitar-smashing rage. Be careful not to build up your expectations too much. Life is full of curveballs and things don’t always go our way. Don’t cling so rigidly to your expectations—life seldom goes as planned.
When have you built things up in your head only to be disappointed?
Funny stories. Good advice. Check out my books, “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” and “Balancing Priorities and Prioritizing Balance”. Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy. Thanks!