Isn’t it strange how life’s little disappointments can knock you sideways? Life’s so full of incident that we become blasé, barely pausing when a real tragedy occurs, but even then we can be caught unawares and be left breathless and gasping by a trivial set-back.
A case in point: I went out to buy some trainers today. Not a big deal at all but I was, as they say, ‘psyched’ as I’ve been in desperate need of new footwear for both work and otherwise. On Saturday, just three days ago, I saw a pair of fairly cute, yet very practical, trainers in a shop that was having a ‘buy one, get one free’ sale. Fantastic, thought I, as I’d previously bought shoes from the same shop at the same sale rate. The shop being packed to the gills though, I left it for the time being. Hence today’s little jaunt into town. So, I strolled in, grabbed the shoes I’d seen previously, and another equally nice pair. I tried them on, faffing about the sizes. I walked around plenty to ensure they fitted comfortably. Then I took them to the counter, only to discover that the sale had ended. Disappointed? That doesn’t seem a strong enough adjective for what I felt. I felt as though someone had knocked the legs out from under me. Two other emotions vied for my attention: anger and frustration. Anger at myself for not braving the crowds and buying the damn things on Saturday, and frustration because despite really needing new shoes, I can’t afford to spend that much money on just one pair. Living on a budget really sucks sometimes, but I just can’t bring myself to be one of those countless people who live beyond their means.
As I wended my way home, shoeless, slightly dazed and on the verge of tears, I wondered why I was taking it so hard. It wasn’t just the disappointment itself, I think; it was the fact that it’s the first stroke of bad luck, trivial or otherwise, that I’ve had for a long while.
We grow thick skins to deal with the sometimes hideous things life throws at us. We learn to shrug things off as though they’re nothing more than specks of dust. So what happened to me? Perhaps my emotional calluses have softened through lack of abuse, leaving me vulnerable to any little set-back. Perhaps it wasn’t disappointment, but instead a sense of impotence because I can’t actually afford to clothe myself at the moment. Or perhaps I just really wanted the damn shoes.