In the book, Jade, a very promising first novel by Rose Montague, the main character has the ability to pick and choose the best of the best in terms of attributes and accessories. When this aspect of the plot was finally revealed, it was a question I couldn't stop pondering: if I could pick anything to be and to have, what would I choose? Why? And what might these choices say about me?
Do I get to choose with the wisdom of all my decades on the planet? Or do I need to make my choices ahead of time with no real context for decisions or a clear understanding of consequences, intended or otherwise, as Jade does? While it was very entertaining to read about Jade and her escapades, let's assume for argument's sake that I get to choose with the knowledge and understanding of my current self, and then I get to go back in time and rewind my life to my early 20s, just because (because this is my blog and my fantasy and because I'm hoping you will be able to find your own truths in my fantasy this time).
So, what would I choose first? I have one voice in my head arguing for looks (and that voice sounds a lot like my mother's) and another urging me toward intelligence and wisdom. I'll choose door number two, in this instance. After all, looks fade and learning is forever. On the other hand (and, unfortunately, there always seems to be another hand, until I feel like an octopus, sometimes), I don't know of a lot of normal, happy geniuses. With great intelligence seems to come great weirdness. So maybe being super smart is not all it's cracked up to be. I heard it said once about a self-help program that there was no one too stupid to go through it, but plenty who proved too smart for their own good. So, onto door number one, now, because, I've got to say, beauty would be a very close second on my list.
Like many of us, I've always wished my--fill in the blank--were: bigger/smaller/flatter/rounder/firmer/thicker/thinner, you name it. Sound familiar? And while we are obsessing over the imperfections, sometimes with OCD intensity, no one else really notices. I read recently that Shakira said that she doesn't dwell on her figure flaws (does she have any?) because men find confidence so much more attractive than any particular physical attribute or lack thereof.
So, instead of beauty, which is fleeting, maybe I should go for confidence, which can last a lifetime. Hmmm.
And then, onto door number three, where to go next? I'm thinking wealth. Fabulous wealth. Sounds good, yes? But wait, there's more (said in my best QVC voice). There are some issues with wealth, at least as far as I've observed, which also has some scientific support. Being wealthy does not seem to translate into being happy or content (which I think is the point of this particular fantasy sport). There are lots of wealthy people I know and read about who seem fairly miserable, in fact. And what's more, these folks' wealth provides an endless supply of diversion and distraction that only serves to delay any positive action they might otherwise take to ameliorate their personal circumstances to make them more supportive of happiness. It is hard to buckle down and do the difficult work to walk through fear, insecurity and anxieties when you can just buy another outfit or go on another fabulous vacation. It sounds good, sure, but putting off the need to confront reality only goes so far. Look at the mess most famous people make of their lives, despite the wealth, or, in some cases, maybe because of it. And there are studies that show that people who win the lottery are actually less happy afterwards than they were before.
So, ix-nay on the ealth-way, I think. And that brings me to a screeching halt on this exercise in mental masturbation. Because I don't think I'm going to get any satisfaction at all here. Every time I think about rearranging the hand I was actually dealt, I can come up with reasons why I shouldn't. I read in one of my beloved fantasy novels (but I can't remember which one! An occupational hazard, I guess), that if each of is threw all our problems in a big heap in the middle of the floor, none of us would choose to pick up the problems of another.
And because every attribute comes with its own set of issues, some more numerous than National Geographic, as Molly Harper would say, I think I'll stick with my own set of perks and flaws, at least for today. And while I’m at it, I’ll go back to reading and contemplating the wisdom and entertainment of Jade.
But if someone offers me the winning lottery ticket tomorrow, I might have to rethink this whole thing again.