Which type of person are you? Let’s say you have two pieces of food on your plate, one you like more than the other. For example, you have a salad and a piece of kugel, and you like the kugel better. Which one do you eat first? One school of thought is “save the best for last,” while the other approach is, “quick, eat the good stuff because who knows what will be later.” Do you eat the kugel first because it is your favorite and you’re so excited to eat it, or do you eat the salad first so that the taste that lingers in your mouth is the kugel, your favorite?
I have always taken the first approach to save the best for last, even if it’s not always the smarter move, it is just how I am. This is true when it comes to the food on my plate, as well as the other areas of my life. I made sure to take all the requirements for college as soon as I could to get them over with, to save the fun and interesting classes that I really wanted to take for later. This is because I like to have something to look forward to. Somehow it feels like I can make it through anything if I know there is something good waiting for me at the end. You know, the light at the end of the tunnel attitude. Part of this thinking, however, involves the good ending point being at a fixed point in time. I know exactly when my birthday is, so it is easy to look forward to it, but if someone tells you, “I’m going to give you gift,” but doesn’t say when, then the longer that time goes by, the more you start to think, “So, um, when exactly are they going to give me this gift? Are they really going to?”
This is part of what makes dating so difficult or frustrating at times. In some ways I would be much better off if someone walked up to me today and said, “Stop being anxious! You are going to meet the right person in 5 years from today, so stop worrying” than I would be if I were to find the right person in only 2 years, without knowing that information in advance. Instead I’m stuck with that secret hoping of, “Maybe it will happen today…or maybe not for years.”
I was thinking about this recently and I realized I have it all wrong. Instead of being so focused on when I’m finally going to get married and I won’t have to wait anymore, I should be focusing on the fact that there is a lot of good in the fact that I have to wait- it gives me something to look forward to. You see, once I get the good thing I’ve been waiting for, I’m inevitably left with this drop of sadness of “Oh, now it’s over. What will I look forward to next?” I remember when I read the final book of the Harry Potter series. I had been waiting to read the seventh book probably ever since I finished the third and had to wait for the fourth, finish it, then wait forever for the fifth, then wait forever for the sixth and then wait for the seventh. As much as I enjoyed reading the book, and I enjoyed it a great deal, when I reached that last sentence on that last page, I was so sad that there was no next book to look forward to.
Marriage, of course, is a different story because it is not something you reach and then move past the way you finish a book or the way you eat a piece of kugel and then it’s over. But there is the point of waiting to meet the person, and then you’ve met them and the mystery of, “Who will I spend the rest of my life with?” is over. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’d rather stay on this side of the mystery, I can’t wait to be on the other side, spending my life with the person. What I am saying is that this side of the mystery has some good aspects, firstly that there is something to look forward to, something to hope for, something to dream about, and while I’m not there yet I might as well enjoy that aspect.
Another good aspect is something I touched upon in this post about appreciating the process. It’s a reflection that I had when I was looking back at the past year around Rosh Hashanah time, and that is the fact that I realized that last year at this time I was not quite as ready to get married as I thought I was, and that last year at this time my desire to get married was not nearly as strong as it is now. As each day goes by I feel more and more ready to get married and I want to get married more and more and more. I truly believe that there is a point where you cannot possibly want to get married anymore, no matter how many more years pass, no matter how many more days pass, no matter how many more Tefillot you daven, no matter how many more dates you go on. And as many times as I’ve thought I’ve reached that point, I am no where near that point at all. There is benefit, I think, from Hashem’s perspective, to forcing me to wait until my desire is stronger, because the greater my desire to get married, the greater my happiness will be when I finally meet the right person.
It’s like a child in a candy store. If the child asks her mother for a candy and the mother says, “Yes,” then the child takes the candy and eats it and is perfectly content and satisfied. But if the child asks and is refused and then asks again and is again refused, then ten minutes later when the child screams on the top of her lungs, “PLEASE, MOMMY, PLEASE????!!!” and the mother gives in and says, “Yes, my darling, Ok, I will give you a candy,” the child’s response is to jump up and down excitedly shouting “YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” And while being content is nice, a big huge “yay” is a whole lot better. Every day that I wait I want to get married even more, and I know the “yay” gets bigger and bigger, too. Yet at the same time, I certainly hope to get married soon and that my “yay” doesn’t end up getting stretched to be as big as it could be.
I don’t want to wait forever to get married, and I certainly hope each day that it will happen soon, but in the meantime I appreciate that I have something to look forward to, because that is always fun, even if I don’t know the exact end point in time. And even though at times I get impatient or frustrated, I can feel the “yay” feeling growing until the time when I don’t have to wait anymore.