Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take,
towards the door we never opened, into the rose garden.
T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets
The grass is always greener. Partly because we only glimpse it. How often do we find that a friend who seems to have it all is actually a mass is self-doubt? Or the fantastic job involving world travel means lonely nights in bland hotels? My husband, whose job as a navy pilot sounds the ultimate in excitement, always said it was ninety percent boredom, waiting for weather to clear.
Now we don’t have “bad hair days”, we have Facebook depression. A permanent crick in our necks from scanning “the roads less traveled”: all those missed opportunities. No wonder North America, the most individualistic and materialistic society, has the highest levels of anxiety and depression.
Whenever I am tempted to mourn lost opportunities, I remember a friend’s story. Her grandfather came to America to find a “better life”. His letters were full of excitement and opportunities and he sent tickets for his wife and children. They scrambled to get packed and down to the ship, but were too late, arriving to see it steaming out of Southampton. No money for more tickets; a life’s worth of dreams lost.
So think again, the next time you fail to get your ideal job or house or soul mate. Like them, you could just have missed the Titanic!
Facebook Envy Leads to Depression for some – link
New York Times: The Downside of Inciting Envy – link
The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iengar