I sat in my backyard the other morning and mindfully appreciated a rare quiet moment. The early morning breeze gently greeted my skin with a welcome good morning caress. The rumbling ocean crashed into the shore nearby. The birds sang sweetly in the tree. And then I heard it, the unmistakable crinkling of that fucking plastic bag. The same piece of plastic bag that has been in the neighbor’s tree since we moved in about nine months ago.
This would be the perfect moment if it weren’t for that goddamn bag, I kept thinking. I started considering my options. It’s pretty high up in the tree, so I’d have to get up on our picnic table and climb onto the side of the wall that separates our properties and try to reach up and snag it with something, while I balanced on top of the concrete wall. I could try to lean out of our second-floor window with a broom. Or I could ask them (people I’d never met) to remove the deteriorating piece of plastic grocery sack from an inconvenient height in their tree because it was harshing my mellow.
I heard myself when I got to that point. That Karen-esque point. I was investing quite a lot of my precious time, building up real frustration over something small, silly, and insignificant. Something that really didn’t matter. Maybe it was never really about the bag at all, but what it represented — something to keep me from being happy, an obstacle in the way of my joy—an excuse.
Maybe deep down, I don’t believe I deserve to be happy and to experience peace. Maybe it’s habitual to find something negative about every situation. It’s likely a culmination of many pieces.
I don’t think I’m alone in getting sucked into the things would be perfect if it weren’t for (fill in the blank) trap. In fact, I’m almost certain plenty of us are guilty of feeling like things will get better once this One Thing changes, whether it is a location, job, partner, cosmetic surgery, etc. You can always find a reason not to be happy if you’re looking for it.
I had to remind myself that it was all about perspective, and it was up to me how I felt about that gift of a rare morning. I was perfectly allowed to rage about the bag. Fuck that bag. Littering up a tree. Distracting me from the birds’ songs. I could put all the frustration from everything I was feeling about everything in my life into a war against that piece of trash.
But I was also allowed to not care about it. I was allowed to appreciate it for what it was, a small piece of trash in a tree full of singing birds on a warm breezy morning near the sea. Just another thing I could see while I relaxed with a cup of coffee in a mug that brought me joy before anyone else woke up.
The sun started to come up behind the house next door, and almost comically, to make my point, a beautiful sunrise shone through the bag and lit it up just so that it looked as if it were glowing.
I will try harder to appreciate the precious moments and stop waiting for things to line up perfectly. That’s something I get to choose, something I have control over. Sand gets in your eye at the beach, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a magnificent place, you know? Stop waiting for things to be just right, and enjoy the experiences that bring you happiness and good feels.
Nikki is a photographer, writer, and general creator of things. She writes about mental health, sex, and relationships.