More than 20 years ago, I was called by someone in the publicity department of the company that was publishing my second book.
“We all love it!” she enthused. “It’s so funny! Your book took this place by storm!”
I hung up, wondering about it. I had already gotten my heart broken after a bitterly disappointing experience with my first book, and I wasn’t as naive and hopeful as I’d once been.
“You know what?” I said to my husband after I recounted the phone conversation. “I’m thinking this may be the high point of my publishing experience. I’ll have to remember this after it all passes and I can’t get anybody to return my phone calls.”
Sure enough, the critical storm of enthusiasm passed and phone calls stopped getting returned. I was disappointed, but not terribly surprised.
But I do think I’ve learned something from this that I’ve tried to preserve: Celebrate, whenever possible. You’re right; it’s not permanent and it won’t last and any day now, a miserable experience will blow through and shake you to your soul. In the meantime, celebrate any happy news.
Last night, I met my daughter and son for drinks to celebrate an exciting event in her life. We sat on a broad patio with warm breezes and touched our glasses to toast. I looked at the two of them — two of the people I love best in the world — and felt warm and happy. At one time, I didn’t think I’d live to see either of them grow up, but I’m fortunate enough to have survived. I’ve attended middle-school, high school, college and graduate school commencements for them. I’ve watched them turn into delightful, funny, smart, warmhearted young people.
There are all kinds of superstitions, positive and negative, around, and I possess many of them. Ever since a friend threw out her wig, then suffered a recurrence of the Hodgkin’s disease that eventually killed her, I’ve clung to my own wig. It sits on a shelf high in my closet, the blank face staring down at me. Similarly, I always go with my husband to my annual oncologist’s visits and wear a necklance I’m semi-convinced is lucky.
That’s one kind of superstition — warding off negative, dark and fearful events. But there’s another kind, I’ve learned, that’s more pragmatic and leans toward the positive: If you don’t make a point to mark and celebrate the joyous events in your life, you’re never going to fully enjoy them. Whatever you do, don’t wait.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)