There’s something I do sometimes that drives Steve nuts. I know it, and I’m trying to stop, but it seems to be a deeply ingrained habit. He asks me to make a simple decision about something, and the first thing that comes out of my mouth is rarely my true feeling about it. It’s either, “Well, we could do that….” or a few practical reasons to do something, none of which is genuinely revealing. It’s like I’m protected my deepest self, the one that really wants something particular. I imagine this is a coping strategy that arose from being Daughter #4 in my family of origin. I probably didn’t experience much success simply saying, “I want that!” so perhaps I tried to come up with smart sounding reasons why giving me what I want was good for the general public? Maybe. Maybe the rejection of my true attachments was too painful, so I would pretend to be interested more in logic, which would appeal to my father. It’s an interesting head game, anyway.
It came up again this morning, as I was thinking about how to justify something that I’ve wanted for more than a year. I want a new camera. I have been using a little Lumix that I borrowed from Steve’s aunt. I had a Canon AE-1 which my husband bought for me when we were dating in high school. It lasted 30 years, and then a gear broke down, and I couldn’t advance the film. So I moved onto the digital point-and-shoot camera, but I’ve dearly missed the ability to focus manually with ease and get really sharp pictures. What’s been keeping me from just buying a DSLR? This weird thing I have about justifying what I want. I never buy anything for myself until I can think of a few practical reasons or some really sentimental reason that will please someone else. Pretty neurotic, actually.
The breakthrough this morning was that I thought of the last bit of rationalization I needed to move forward. It’s not enough that I just want a camera. It’s not enough that I am turning 50 years old in a week and a half and a birthday present to myself is due. It’s not enough that I have the money because I’m still only earning minimum wage at my seasonal job. It’s not enough that I’m planning to take a lot of pictures on my upcoming 3-week trip, and I want them to turn out well. What got me over the hurdle was thinking that Jim, my late husband, would have bought me that camera in a heartbeat. On credit, even if he didn’t have the money. The first camera he bought me was still working fine when he died. I can hear him now, “Look, dear, the life insurance money is for you, from me. I want to buy you a new camera. It would make me happy.” It would, I’m sure. And he’d throw in all kinds of extra gadgets just for fun. A macro lens. A carrying case. He was that kind of guy, generous and spontaneous to everyone, including himself.
Why do I struggle so with offering up a spontaneous decision when I’m asked?