April 2, 2017

Cadillac Teeth in a Volkswagon Mouth

Would you believe that one of my most favorite places to visit these days is the pawn shop? It's gotten to be a big joke with my husband. He's always been a pawn shop frequenter, but for many years I'd roll my eyes and huff, opting to sit in the car instead. 

I've always loved a thrift store, lived for a consignment shop, and braked for antiques at every turn. But pawn shops? They had never been my thing. 

My husband goes because he likes to look at the various tools and other odds and ends. He hardly ever buys anything, but he still likes to look. 

It was a few years ago on a random Saturday when he said he'd like to stop by the local pawn shop and I gave my standard eye roll, saying "Okay, but I'll just sit in the car." 

"You know they have jewelry in there, right?" he said. 

To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, that was his "Big mistake. HUGE." 

Now I'm the one who begs to go to the pawn shop while he rolls his eyes at me. 

The problem is that I have expensive taste. Champagne taste you might say. On an RC Cola budget. 

This was illustrated in our recent visit to the pawn shop to browse for a possible Valentine's Day gift for me. I scanned the clearance jewelry case, my eye passing over diamond rings, tennis bracelets and gemstone pendants. 

My gaze landed on a pair of sparkly diamond stud earrings. Small, simple, and understated. 

I asked the clerk to see them before I noticed the more than $4,000 price tag. 

My husband wandered over to see if I had found anything I liked. It's gotten to be a joke that on any given visit to the pawn shop, I only end up liking the most expensive thing, so I tried to give the earrings back to the lady as quickly as possible. 

He still managed to see the price and guffawed. The helpful clerk said sweetly, "The price says four, but we'll take two." Two thousand. Dollars. 

Probably an incredible steal of a deal if you were in the market for such a thing. But not us, at least not that day. 

"Nah, it's okay," I said, trying to be nonchalant. "But thanks." 

Have you ever wanted something that felt just out of your reach? Something you thought would really change your current situation for the better. 

If I can only get this [job...promotion...relationship...house...car...whatever] my life will seem better. I'll be happier. I'll feel more successful. It will really change things. People will finally notice me. 

I have felt this way...have you? For me, it's not so much about fancy cars or houses or even jewelry. But there are still things that seem just out of reach. And somehow I convince myself that having or achieving them would make me so much happier. 

And sometimes we long for things and when we get them, they do make us happy. I've always wanted an Hermes scarf. So when my husband and I were on our honeymoon, and I stumbled across a great vintage one for a steal in a consignment shop in Charleston, I decided to treat myself. 

It's beautiful and makes me feel beautiful when I wear it. It's something I'll always keep and it reminds me of our honeymoon, a wonderful trip to celebrate the beginning of our marriage. 

But so often, it seems like as soon as we get the thing we want, our feeling of satisfaction is fleeting and we end up turning our focus to yet another thing we are striving for. It can be more than a little bit exhausting.

Everything in life is a trade off. Sometimes in our quest to obtain one thing, we have to give up something else along the way. 

When I was a teenager I got braces on my teeth. Before the braces could be put on, I had to get several teeth pulled to make room. I'll never forget my orthodontist saying to me that my problem was "Cadillac teeth in a Volkswagon mouth." 

Even though these were the teeth I was born with, they just didn't fit. Sometimes we are born with things, or perhaps we pick them up at an early age and they just don't fit us anymore. Mindsets, perspectives, and ways of being. The good news is each day we wake up alive is a new opportunity to ditch the stuff that doesn't serve us. The stuff that holds us back. 

For me, one of those things is not enjoying the present. Not really embracing it as the gift it is, as cliche as that sounds. And being constantly worried about things that haven't happened yet. 

I regret spending way too much time in the past living for the next thing. Not enjoying or even seeing all the potential right in front of me because I'm waiting for the next thing to come along and magically make me so much happier than I currently am. This is something I'm trying to be more aware of, but it isn't always easy. 

To me the solution seems to be gratitude...that is, focusing on everything I have to be thankful for in this very moment. It's so overwhelming that it keeps me from getting too far ahead of myself.