When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be?
Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?
Here's what she said to me:
Que Sera Sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que Sera Sera
- From "Que Sera Sera," sung by Doris Day
It was the last line of one of those chatty e-mail lists that got me thinking; the kind of e-mail that asks you to answer a dozen or so questions and to forward your answers, along with the questions, to a bunch of your e-mail friends.
"Getting to know you," the e-mail title usually reads. Although I've completed them and sent them along a couple of times, I've often wondered, who has the time to think up these things?
Over the last year, I've learned my New York cousins' favorite foods and colors, my sister's favorite TV show and the middle name of my friend, Linda. All pieces of information, while interesting, I probably could have survived without knowing.
The latest version of "Getting to know you" was sent to me by my mother, someone you might think that I know a lot about. Actually, though, I did not know that her favorite brand of clothing is Liz Claiborne (useful for future birthdays and Christmas), that she would like to vacation in Paris and uses Arm & Hammer laundry detergent.
So, as I was sitting down to get some work done at the computer, in that, "Let's-just-check-my-e-mail-again-and-make-sure-there-isn't-anything-other-than-work-I-can-do" mood, I blithely followed the directions of the "Getting to know you" e-mail, cutting and pasting the e-mail into a new outgoing message for completion.
Then, I went down the list, responding to each question, one by one. Until I got to the end of the list, to this fill in the blank question, which still sits heavy on my mind.
"If I could, I would be..."
Hmmm. I thought about, "If I could, I would be rich."
Except, who is defining rich? I am rich in love, rich in history and even rich in money, compared to when I was in college. But that's not the most important thing, to me, anyway.
How about, "If I could, I would be pretty."
Again, the standards are questionable. To my husband, I am already pretty. To my children, I am beautiful. Also, not the most important thing in life.
Among other things, I considered wishing for health, youth and fame, to be a faster runner, a more patient person. All relative, all superfluous, all things I have wished to be over the years.
But none of those things felt right, until I filled in the blank with this:
"If I could, I would be happy."
And that's when the "aha" about my life kicked in, after those early years of wondering, imagining, and working on what I would be.
I am as rich and pretty and successful and healthy and young as I want to be. It is all within my control.
And after all the wishes I might make upon a star, the sweet dreams I dream at night and the hopes of being the best I can be-when I wake up, I can decide to be happy.
Sue-Ellen Sanders writes about family issues every week in the Hometown News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.