"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
October 16, 2012
What You Want and What You Like - by MJ Johnson
by College Voices
MJ Johnson
Freshman, Brigham Young University

Overused adage: “You can’t always get what you want.”

Well, no derp. Isn’t that kind of a theme with adages? Everybody knows it, yet people feel the need to repeat the sayings as though they’re Confucius bestowing some choice grain of wisdom upon the ignorant.

But, contrary to common sense, even if the adages aren’t any revelation to us we usually stuff them in the butt pocket of our jeans and forget the significance of what they really mean. For instance:

Over-used adage: “You can’t always get what you want!”

Response of every human being that’s ever inhabited this planet: “BUT I WANT IT!!!”

Last week, on a particular day in history, there were originally two things that I thought would be the glorious, bright beams of sunshine shining through the mundane clouds of 11 October 2012 (pardon the hyperbole).

Number 1: I’m expecting a text from someone I haven’t talked to in awhile.

Number 2: I’m going to get Jamba Juice for lunch.

But, sure enough, the aforementioned adage decided to pay me a visit and unload all his baggage right on the front stoop of my brain. In other words, I lost my student ID card (meaning no Jamba Juice, nor could I buy any other food), and guess who didn’t text?

Well, apparently not only had I stuffed that adage into the butt pocket of my jeans, but I had also put those jeans through the laundry about ten times over, until, in my consciousness, that adage was reduced to little balls of dryer lint. Consequently, I responded to these inconveniences with about as much maturity as a five-year-old. The voice in my head that blurted, “BUT I WANT IT!!!” was literally a tape recording of the little blond girl of fourteen years ago who started screaming this in the middle of Menards when her parents refused to buy the layered crystal chandelier as her main bedroom light fixture.

My brain immediately slumped into my usual response, assuming the worst. “I’m going to have to pay for a new ID, and I’ll just have to skip lunch — probably dinner too. It’s probably best; I’m starting to gain weight anyway. I look so awful. Why haven’t they texted back? Did I do something wrong? Maybe I shouldn’t have been so harsh yesterday. They might be mad at me.

Surely you see the flaws in this? It’s pretty clear from an outside perspective that I’m just moping, swilling negative thoughts into the mop bucket of my mind.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have a bucket of clean water basically thrown in my face.

Sitting in the middle of one of my classes, I was thrilled to notice that my phone had received a text. I mentally bobbed my head to a cheery tune of, “He texted, he texted me!” for the remainder of the hour, then skipped out the door and popped open my phone, complete with a big silly grin on my face.

Yeah — it wasn’t they.

It was my sister. I read the message anyway: “Hey! I just realized that in military time it was just 10/11/12 at 13:14.”

Your expectation of my response, from what I’ve told you about my dreary mindset, is probably something along the lines of me dramatically tossing my phone and letting it skitter across the pavement. But then you’d be forgetting I’m the type for whom the thought of Jamba Juice is enough to make the day exceptional. With this in mind, you can probably justify my actual response:

“Whoa!! That’s so cool!!!!!!! Who knew, eh?!?”

A few minutes later, back in the dorm, I examined the piles of boxes and cellophane bags around our mini fridge that serves as a makeshift pantry. No Jamba Juice to be found. But as I stared, feeling a little like Einstein, I watched things slowly click into places. And five minutes later I was sitting at my computer desk with an apple, a glass of juice, a couple Hershey’s kisses, and what was suddenly the crown jewel of my day — a peanut butter, honey, and banana sandwich, made with the sandwich cutter that removes the crust and makes the sandwich into two brontosaurus-shaped halves.

Here the five year-old surfaces in me again — but this time I give it a high five. If playing Jurassic Park with your lunch doesn’t make your day sunny, I don’t know what does.

Well, then I remembered that big smoothie that would never make it to my stomach that day (or possibly for the next week, if I don’t get that ID back soon), and how my texting mailbox from you-know-who was empty and echoing.

And with those two thoughts, I popped the last chocolate kiss into my mouth and took a sip of my 100% grape juice with a big, satisfied smile on my face.

(Incidentally, this knocked the smile right off my face. Never, ever, ever drink white grape juice after chocolate.)

But that’s beside the point. After I chugged another glass of juice to get the taste out of my mouth, the grin was right back on its throne. No, I didn’t get what I’d wanted — not my smoothie, not any correspondence from the exact person I’d been thinking of. But the clouds coating 11 October 2012 had been blown wide open and things were going awesome.

And I didn’t even have to put any effort into it. I didn’t have to sit down and go through the process of reasoning myself out of gloom and forcing myself to be happy. It happened on its own, simply because of naturally occurring alternatives. And this is about when I opened up Microsoft Word and ditched my homework to jot this down: During October, keep an eye out for alternatives.

October is a rough month. It’s getting cold and the sun is starting to hang around less, as if he is realizing he doesn’t enjoy your company as much as he thought he did at first, when he would shine on you for more than ten hours a day. Homework is being tossed on us like a ton of wet towels onto the football team’s runt, and that’ll snowball into an insuperable mass of stress and lack of sleep.

And that’s not even the end. Even the thought of what this month has in store has me biting my nails — I don’t handle this type of thing well (I’ve mentioned how quickly I spiral down into being mopey). So, naturally, I’ve been keeping my eyes wide open for any sort of life-saving debris, in the form of advice, that might float my way as I try to stay afloat this month. And maybe this is it — this adage I’ve resurrected from the depths of my metaphorical lint trap.

Overused adage: “You can’t always get what you want.”

Corollary: “So stop whining about it and realize that the alternatives that you end up with can make you just as happy.”

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