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You’ve Got Mail!
Mom with a View

You’ve Got Mail!

Remember the excitement of getting a letter?

by

Almost nothing comes by snail mail anymore, except a few bills and a few catalogs – the latter to excite my desires, the former to dampen them.

It used to be an event when the mail came; we would run to see what was there. Even if it wasn’t an inheritance from a long-lost relative or “fan mail from some flounder”, there was always potential. An old friend had sent a letter. There was a postcard from some exotic locale (I still send my grandchildren postcards whenever I travel but I wonder if postcards are also a dying breed…).

Nowadays we turn to our Inbox. Maybe that’s where we’ll find it – that unexpected missive, that elusive excitement. But each day (Each hour? Every few minutes?) my hopes are thwarted. It’s most frequently ads (no matter how hard I try to unsubscribe), business matters and brief social arrangements (Okay, we’ll meet you at 7 at…). There’s never anything new, exciting, out of the ordinary, something that inspires or lifts me out of the routine of my daily existence.

And if I was smart, I’d get the message. I’d stop expecting. I’d stop looking. Because what could possibly be in my emails or on any website that would give me that boost, that would give me new energy, new optimism, new perspective? It’s a foolish and unrealistic hope. And yet I keep checking. Why?

Of course we should be hopeful – but we need to temper our hope with being realistic. Nothing that comes via the post or via the web or via any other media is going to give me what I’m looking for. Not even O magazine, no matter how hard Oprah tries!

Because if I’m feeling low or slightly dissatisfied or a little bored or a little off, there’s only one person who can fix it. There’s only one person who can change that attitude – and that, fortunately or unfortunately, is me!

The truth is it’s fortunate. Because it means I’m not dependent on anyone else or anything else. Not the mail, not my emails, not what’s happening on Facebook, not my friends, family or even my husband. It’s all up to me. Sometimes this is overwhelming. Sometimes I don’t want this responsibility (Okay, more than sometimes). But it’s also empowering. Because it means I can change my attitude. I can change my expectations. I can choose hope and optimism and joy.

Whatever the external circumstances, whatever my challenges, whether that inheritance or newsy missive arrives in the mail or not. Whether that closeout sale or exciting invitation or friend request pops up in my inbox or not.

I can choose. Our power to choose is the greatest gift the Almighty has given us. But it’s not always about choosing between this course of action and another. Sometimes it’s choosing an attitude, frequently it’s choosing whether to face the word with happiness or with gloom, with the expectation of good or not. This choice may even be more significant than our choice of action. It may be harder. It may be required for a longer period of time (like every day, all day) and it may have more lasting ramifications.

I know I’m idealizing those former days. Letters were not that frequent and not that exciting. Rarely did they bring uplifting or life-changing news. And it’s really irrelevant because all I have is now. And if I want to make now count, I need to approach it with a positive attitude. Not only can no one else do that for me but no one else will reap the benefits as much as I will (even though my husband and children will certainly be grateful!).

And I’ll continue to greet the postal carrier with warmth and a smile. It’s not his fault he’s only delivering bills.

April 22, 2018

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Anonymous, April 25, 2018 12:11 AM

Yes Emunah, Hashem’s gift of choice is great and no one can do it for us :) It is therefore with gratitude and joy that I begin my day with aish.com and aish.com daily, so I, for one, love my mail!

(1) Eric Wood, April 24, 2018 2:37 PM

Thank you that encourages me.

Just when I am feeling down waiting an overdue hospital appointment, watching everyday with anticipation, your article came in. love you Emuna. Thanks.

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