Disappointment. It’s a long and stringy word, like a rope. It tends to tangle itself around our limbs, clinging on as if it were a living thing every time we try to drop it. It is one thing to cognitively adhere to the idea that gifts should not be obligatory or transactional, but it is an entirely other matter to make it through a birthday or other special event without disappointments of one kind or another.
I can do my best to just keep uttering the words, “It’s ok, it’s not that big of a deal,” but that is not enough to shake loose from the cords of disappointment that slither out of a well of never-ending hope and expectations. Like a snake, they quietly find their way into the room where my attitude sits.
It is not maturity to ignore them, any more than it is to throw a tantrum with them. Instead we must notice them and learn to sit with these additions to our attitude. To tame them. Disappointment is not foreign. Since our early days we have found the cords entangling us. Sometimes we have fought against them, other times we’ve joined forces with them and used them as a weapon attempting to strangle those around us. It is time we made peace.
When we learn to sit still next to our disappointment, the struggle ceases. The rope, though still attached to our wrist, lies still. And in that moment we notice that it is only one thing, not the entirety. We look around us and see that we are surrounded by many things–beautiful gifts left for us not just on this day, but on all the days preceding this one. Expressions of love, bright points in dark days, smiles of friends, words of appreciation. The disappointment may never disappear, but if we learn to accept it and give it just the space it needs, no more and no less, it will not overwhelm us.