Do you ever get a case of the Could Be Worses? I twitch when I hear that phrase, even in a Cheer Up, Charlie context; it’s a loaded presumption and a stupid philosophy. Of course it could be worse. Let’s shoot for something better. So why do I keep whispering such nonsense to myself?
It’s hard to appreciate the here and now without scouring my surroundings for some shitty lowball comparison. I could feed my kids fast food nuggets and shrug, “hey, it’s not dog food!” but what sort of benchmark is that?
I don’t feed my kids fast food and the pet food we buy is even, arguably, better quality than such drive-thru ilk, but so fucking what? I don’t gain anything by comparing our diet, our lifestyle, our choices to those belonging to any other family.
And yet. It’s hard not to feel both the punch of jealousy or the smarmy stroke of relief in seeing the way other people live. It’s a character flaw of mine, but I believe I’m not alone.
I am equally envious lately of folks in the city and folks on farms, of the hum and rush of a busy hub and the space and quiet of land. And I wonder why are we here? Why are we in this small town? And what are we going to do about it?
We have an open space nearby, a short walk from our front door, and we make use of it often. The puppies can race unfettered, as wild and fast as my children. I watch them run: my son, oblivious to mud and muck; my daughter, laughing about spiny seeds clinging to her clothing like quills.
And I think, “why don’t we live like this?” even as we’re living it.