Tuesday, 14 February 2012
So much of our discontent is formed by what we don't have but I don't think it's because we don't have it, but because others do. The knawing sensation that we ought to have or do something. That our lives ought to be "like that". When in fact, our lives are perfectly fine and not missing anything of importance.
I suppose that is why all those surveys tell us that people used to be happier in "ye olden dayes" although they had a lot less. It's not what you have or don't have which makes you happy or unhappy but what you feel you ought to have.
I hate that word - ought. Have done for years.
I fight against the "ought" but even then it breaks through sometimes and tries to taint a perfectly good experience.
Take Rome, for example. Before we went, I was talking about it with a colleague who strongly recommended a lovely hotel she had stayed at years previously. I knew that that sort of hotel was well out of our budget (probably out of hers now too, to be honest) but the conversation about a nice hotel somehow made me feel less happy about the budget affair I had booked. Her assumption that a "mini-break" requires a plush hotel was persuasive. It didn't spoil it though, because I fought against the "ought". Besides, why would I let a colleague influence me? She and I are very different people, why wold I want what she likes??
And when I look back to our little hotel, I wouldn't change a thing.
Because our expectations were low, the room, with its lush royal blue and gold fabric covered walls and extravangantly swagged curtains and crimson and gold bedspread, was a pleasant surprise. It sounds terrible I know but it was warm and rich and cosy and romantic. The location was brilliant, we could walk nearly everywhere and were only a few minutes from the Metro for longer trips or to and from the airport Shuttle. The breakfasts were relaxed, tasty and the other guests interesting and multi-national. There was no ennui, just fun and enthusiasm. And what is a hotel room except and bed and a bathroom? That room was as wonderful and romantic a home-from-home as I could have wished for so any more money spent on it would have been a waste.
It might even have taken away from our trip - the nicer the room, the more time you spend watching the multi-channels on the Satellite TV or surfing the web. This way, everything was in Italian so all our time was spent with each other. A smarter hotel might have had a spa - but then we might have spent less time in Rome. I can go to a spa any time. A smarter hotel might have been outside the city centre - so more time on the Metro and less time nosing round the neighbourhood.
And the timing of our trip - oh, you should go in spring, it's beautiful in spring. Nah, we went in February 'cos it's cheap, we didn't miss any football, didn't have to give up on golf, didn't have to queue with the spring hoards and got to see Rome with a covering of snow.
So, that's what I'm going to keep trying to do - be happy with what we have, not look over my shoulder and look at what others may have. Not fret about not being the thinnest, most stylish woman in Rome. But be pleased that I could dress smartly and warmly and still walk for miles and spend days with my lovely man without a cross word. Enjoy the fact that, when things went wrong - like the disastrous first meal, there were no recriminations, just laughter and the seeds of a future in-joke!