One of my all time favorite childhood books was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. When the movie based on the book, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the one with Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka), came out it became one of the few movies that in my mind just may have eclipsed the book. It is still one of my all time favorites. (The Johnny Depp version was good, but still doesn’t beat the classic to me.) Besides Willie Wonka (oh, how I adored Gene Wilder in that movie), the most memorable character in that movie to me was Veruca Salt, the rich girl whose daddy turned his factory into a candy bar opening operation to find her golden ticket. She was the ultimate spoiled rich girl whose whiny cries of “I want it now” are still implanted in my brain. Sometimes I mentally call myself Veruca when I get in that whiny self-centered frame of mind. And OK, I admit it. Sometimes I just may have called you Veruca too! (You know you deserved it!)
There are a lot of Verucas in the world today. People who want things without working for them. People who get things or do things on a whim, not thinking of what the consequences of that decision will mean to their lives or the lives of others. People who want things because in their minds they deserve them because…well, for some reason they consider themselves more special others. People whose parents have given them the world, but not a work ethic or an understanding of personal responsibility. Oh, and I won’t blame just the parents here. Sometimes the parents have taught everything right, but the lessons just didn’t stick. We sometimes just forget the lessons and start to live in our own fantasy world, in which we are at the center. And where we assume no responsibility or consequences for our actions.
I do not have a pet. I do not live the life of a responsible pet owner. I often am gone from home for long periods of time. I like being able to travel on a whim. I don’t want to have to remember to buy dog food, or fence in my yard, or add veterinary visits to my days and all of the expense of animal ownership to my budget.
But sometimes I see some of the cute rescue dogs that people post on Facebook and I melt. I want one. If I look at it logically, I would not be its best option for a happy life. Most of my animal loving friends suggest to me from time to time that I need a dog. I have to remind them of how I live. While I love the idea of dogs, I would not be what a dog deserves as a pet owner. I love dogs too much to own one. I remember that because I am an adult…..and I consider more than just my current emotional needs. (I will hug on yours instead!) But I see so many people who see those cute doggie faces and have to have it….now! Whether they are going to be home to take care of it or not. Whether they have room in their budget for dog food or not. Whether they have investigated all of the aspects of dog ownership, and made a conscious decision to make a full commitment. Owning a pet is hard work, expensive and a big responsibility. If you do it well!
I’m not against immediate gratification. I am a big fan, as a matter of fact! I wish I got everything I wanted as soon as it came to my mind. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen quite that way. (Yeah, it disappoints me, too.) Sometimes we have to wait for the things that we want. Sometimes we have to work for things….and work and work and work. And while delayed gratification is sometimes difficult to endure, usually when we get to the prize, it is something we appreciate all the more.
Working out has been a struggle for me lately. It always is, but the last month it has seemed especially difficult. I am starting to see the impact on my body. It makes me mad that I have to devote so much of my free time to working out. Because I have a sedentary job, I am growing older, and I love food, I just do! I find my internal messaging being very Veruca-like. “It’s not fair that I have to work out so much while (insert your name here) looks awesome and never seems to have to do all that I have to do.” Like Veruca, I am not considering all of the angles. Why shouldn’t I have to work out harder than you? How do I even know how hard you are working out? How do I know what you are eating….or not eating? How do I know what you are going through to maintain that amazing body?
When we look at things from a self-centered basis, we see things from only one perspective….our own. The viewpoints of others don’t enter into our spectrum. We don’t see them with sympathy or empathy….frankly we often don’t even see others at all!
There is an old contemporary Christian song by Keith Green from the 70s called “Make My Life A Prayer” that contains the sentence “I’d like to thank you Lord, for being patient with me, Oh, it’s so hard to see, when my eyes are on me.” As it is difficult to see God’s patience with us when we are being self-centered, it’s also difficult to see the gifts.
My goal is to quit being the Veruca Salt of the workout world. I need to remember that I have been gifted with a healthy body. I need to celebrate it. It’s a privilege to be able to run. It’s a privilege to be able to walk. It’s a privilege to be able to lift weights. It’s a privilege to be able to walk extra steps in the parking lot. It’s a privilege to be able to do planks (yeah Patsy….there is your planking reference!) It’s a privilege to do squats. Working out this body of mine….it’s nothing but a privilege.
I need to remember this…. and also remember that results take time. For me especially. The upside is that when I make strides that are small steps to others, they get to be major victories to me. So I am going to get back to the regular workouts….and get ready for the little internal celebrations that I get to have each time I do anything that is hard for me to do. Right now that bar is low. It’s just making an attempt. I need to celebrate my “privileges” in a big way and look at them not as burdens, but as gifts. Keep me accountable…..and if I need to keep you accountable for something, let me know. Because we need to know what we are struggling with, hold each other up, and be there for encouragement. It’s what separates us from the Verucas of the world.
I still can’t have a puppy. Even if I want it now!