How The Lottery Won’t Ruin My Life

Mar 11….our water heater broke.  Well, not so much broke as it is leaking.  This actually happened a few days ago.  Or at least that’s when Chris found the puddle in the basement.  Neither one of us complained about it.  He told me about the water on the floor, I went down and looked at it, he said he’d call a plumber, he did a little research online, and somewhere in there he put things in perspective when we were both having a long work day and he reminded me that by us working so hard it allows for things like broken water heaters or new backsplash to not become a financial burden.  Which got me thinking of a conversation I had with someone a couple weeks ago (and attempting to articulate how I’m relating this to my no complaining goal) where we were talking about relationships in general – be it a spouse, friend, family of any sorts, etc.  I was saying that one thing I’ve observed is that we know what to do for people when they fall on hard times, it’s when things are good that it’s a different story.  I’m guessing that if I did a study of people who have gone through some form of a difficult time (illness, lost their job, etc) that the majority would say they received some ongoing support from friends and family.  I hope I’m not living in a bubble with that statement but I’m guessing that I am and I’m ignoring that part for now (forgive that part of me, please).  I’m thankful that my only data point in my own life was when I had my gallbladder removed last year (yes I’m still talking about it – it was my first and only surgery, it’s still a dramatic moment in my life) and my mailbox was flooded with cards from friends….even friends of friends…there was a gift basket, a visit from a bestie and her son, emails, and flowers.  I pray others have had similar experiences during times like these (and I’m assuming they do in my next statement).  But if I were to ask the same people what kind of support they got during good times in their lives, I would expect that it would be less (I’m discounting “routine” or “assumed” things like graduations and weddings).  I’m sure there were the “congrats” in passing, there’s probably still cards in the mail, there’s lots of positive posts on social media, and there may even be a happy hour but the drop off happens at a quicker rate and then the inverse happens.  My theory is – we know how to support people when they’re down, we don’t know how to celebrate them when they’re up.  We know how to complain when things are bad.  I know how to tell 100 people that our water heater broke and that someone has to come out in the middle of the work day to fix it.  I know how to get them to join me in it and how to hear all the stories about water heaters that broke at their house.  I know that on some level they will enjoy that the odds are against us when it comes to hard water in Jefferson Township (even with a water softener).  What we don’t know how to do is support people when things are good.  Who cares that the cost didn’t break our bank?  Who cares that we save money for these types of things?  No one.  I can actually tell this just by google analytics when I see how many people click on my blog.  If I title the blog “Our water heater broke and it’s a month I’m not complaining” then people read it.  If I title it “Our water heater broke and we had the money to get it fixed” then people are like ‘yeah, and, so?  where’s the misery?’  Similarly with other life events – if a friend losses a loved one we kind of know what we’re supposed to do to support them.  Some of us say the wrong things, but the support and love is felt I hope.  If a friend gets a promotion or some extravagant material item, we love it, but we only love it up to the point that we personally feel threatened by it.  I can’t remember if that is my own original thought or one that I’ve rephrased after I’ve read another blog post a friend shared about competition/a misperception of a scarcity of opportunities for success (and if I wasn’t too lazy in this moment, I’d insert the link to that blog post, just take my word for it though…it was good).  Because if you think about it, we don’t hesitate to build up someone who is down, but man, we sure know how to bring down someone who is up don’t we?  We’re like “yay, congrats, you got that promotion”…….”now you’re going to have to work a lot”……”I hope you find a work-life balance”……”I didn’t even think you wanted that job”…..phase in comments you say behind their back.  Let’s use another example.  Again, if someone losses a loved one, we know what to do in a general sense.  If that same someone has a baby…we start with the “congrats,” a visit, a photo of you holding the baby….and then what do we do?  Do we keep building her up?  No way….we find fault in her choices as a mother.  She’s too overbearing, or makes weird choices for her and her kid, or she doesn’t have time for us anymore, and so on.  You get the gist.  So how does this tie into not complaining?  We are comfortable in a valley.  When we’re in a valley we can bring others there and there’s no competition anymore.  Everyone is complaining about something and no one really has to worry about winning.  If I’m complaining, you can complain, and in turn…we can relate to each other.  It’s that stupid cliche phrase “misery loves company.”  I always fight cliches, but my mom said somewhere along the line that cliches are cliches for a reason…..and that reason being that they’re true.  It’s similar to the phrase “when (insert event) happens, that’s when you learn who your real friends are.”  I have been blessed enough to have not had to face that many hard times that I would’ve inserted in that sentence, but I’d say that I’d switch it around and say that “when unexpected or overly great things happen, that’s when you learn who your real friends are.”  When great things have happened in my life – the friends I have that genuinely support and celebrate it with me longer than a fleeting moment – those are my real friends.  I want to be more like that.  For myself, in this weird month of not complaining and overanalyzing life and social behaviors, I am taking away a lesson to celebrate those who are up to the same degree or more that I’d commiserate with those who are down.  This all obviously ties back to the show “How the Lottery Ruined My Life.”  People know what to do when they’re broke….but who the heck prepared them for when they’re rich?