My mother used to tell us about a game that she played when she was a little girl. It went like this. The first person says, “Pleased or displeased?” The next person says whether or not they are pleased. If they say, “Displeased,” the first person inquires, “What will it take to please you?” The second person then sets a task for one or more of the other people playing and they must do it. It is a silly variation on Simon Says, I suppose. Everyone gets a turn to answer the question in this game though.
I thought of this game because I am indeed displeased but I can’t for the life of me think of what it would take to please me. Part of my malaise has to do with the fact that it is Sunday afternoon. I have never liked Sunday afternoons. When I was little, my grandmother would make us go to church on Sunday night. I didn’t particularly like to go to church, on Sunday night or any other time for that matter.
Sunday night also meant there was school the next day. I liked school okay but I didn’t like the regimentation. I wanted to decide what I did and when. I also hated homework. I loved learning but I had no patience with rote exercises.
When I got older, Sunday night meant that I had work the next day. I dreaded work for much the same reasons that I dreaded school. I have been lucky enough to enjoy most of the jobs that I’ve had. The thing that I don’t like is that I have to follow someone else’s processes and schedule.
I wonder if I were to retire from my job and start writing for a living, if I would have the same attitude toward Sunday night. I would still have to do things that I don’t like very much. If I’m my own boss, I have to do all of the distasteful tasks, not just the few that I get assigned working for someone else.
On the other hand, I get all of the benefit of my efforts. That should count for something. And at my age I have the benefit of a retirement fund to underwrite the risky endeavor of being a freelance writer. If push comes to shove, I can find another job to supplement my income. I might even find one that takes advantage of my writing ability.
Okay. Go ahead. Someone ask me, “Pleased or displeased?”
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.