Greener Grass

I was jealous of a woman that I passed at the grocery store last week. It was around noon and I clearly remember thinking that she was probably on her lunch break by the way she breezed by at an alarmingly high rate of speed. She was tall, thin and attractive… but surprisingly her beauty was not the object of my scorn.

No, I was envious of her because it was obvious that she had a job. A real, professional job. One with paid vacation, full medical (probably dental too) and a 401k. She was very well-dressed in a crisp, white blouse tucked into a smart pencil skirt paired up with some killer heels. And she walked with purpose — a woman on a mission.

Once upon a time, I knew that mission well. The object is to get through traffic to the store, gather everything on your list as well as something halfway decent to eat, get back through traffic and slide into your parking spot in 60 minutes or less. After all, the day is now half over and there are STILL calls to be returned, emails to respond to and deadlines to meet.

Yes, cruising by her in my khaki shorts, flip-flops and loose-fitting summer top I had plenty of time to take in the scene. I had no where specific to be. I got up at ten, fed the cat, watched Hoda and Kathy Lee conduct a few “ambush makeovers” on the plaza during the Today Show, showered and threw on something I found laying at the bottom of my closet. I had no list. My mission was simple: To procure some bagels and OJ.

But I found it to be quite a curious thing—my jealousy of this woman—because whenever was working, I envied all those women dressed in khakis, flip-flops and summer tops. They always shopped at a leisurely pace, flip-flopping their way around the store… taking time to sniff and squeeze the produce and casually wait for the sorts of food that needed to be sliced, trimmed, weighed and wrapped.

I often fumed at the notion that these privileged women obviously enjoyed the luxury of having no schedule and certainly nothing that even remotely resembled a deadline as I would tensely zip straight to the freezer section, filling my cart with armloads of Lean Cuisine and frozen (not fresh) veggies. After all, my “smart pencil skirt” was riding up, my “killer heels” were giving me blisters and as for my “crisp, white blouse” — there was a strange, unidentifiable smugde on the collar.

I have lived on BOTH sides of this fence and every time—no matter which side I seem to be standing on—I ask myself why it is that the grass really DOES appear to be greener on the other side. Why is it that I am never fully content with my own yard?

While watching a Sunday morning news program one day I heard a scientific explanation of why grass literally does appear to be greener on the OTHER side of the fence. When looking over the fence at your neighbor’s grass, you see only the sides of the blades of grass which look like a sea of green. However, while looking straight down at the grass beneath YOUR feet, you see the grass… but you ALSO see the patches of dirt in between. You’re acutely aware of all the natural flaws and imperfections.

Apparently, vantage point makes ALL the difference. Where we are standing at any given time has a direct effect on how we see the world around us. Literally and figuratively. Perhaps I’ll try to remember that the next time I go to the store and see that working gal. Perhaps I’ll look close enough to notice her frazzled, white-knuckle grip on the cart handle as she heads for frozen foods. And perhaps I’ll pick up an orange or an avocado, give it a squeeze and then casually flip-flop my way over to the deli counter.


17 thoughts on “Greener Grass

  1. I often have the same feeling not because I want to be a working woman but because I would like the respect that she earns. And the money would be nice too. Also the independence, if she earns enough. It is more than though. My sister in law works. She always has a great job and respect. She moves up in her field as often as she can, studies, works hard and is smart as a whip.

    Now don’t get me wrong all I ever wanted to be was a stay at home mom but that has been very difficult in many ways. I would have been a total wreck if I had had to leave my babies at home but now since they are grown I think…mmmmm I don’t know how to explain it. I wish I had done better in school and had the ability and courage to blossom more at that time. Or even now I should say. Oh blah, blah nevermind me. I think for most of us the grass is always greener on the other side. It’s the human condition.

    • I know what you mean Linda. It is a catch-22 no matter which path I think we choose. I guess we just have to take what we are given and do the best we can to play our hand well! 🙂

  2. JT says:

    Excellent Post Joanna, I have found that not only does the grass appear greener the house looks cleaner the cars are nicer and they just seem to have it all together. That false perception is quikly eradicated while walking through their yard I step in their dogs crap 🙂

  3. Loving your post and oh so true! I always seem to want the opposite of what I currently have and have to remind myself, self be grateful for what you do have:) Have a Great Day!

  4. Donald Miller says:

    A wonderful post, except for you not landing that awesome job that you should have. I keep wondering about the prospective employers. Are the blind?! When I see that picture of you on the magazine I think, now there’s somebody who really does stand out from the crowd. Mostly it’s the eyes. The lights are on and everybody’s home.

    I hope you get what you deserve. (Funny how people usually mean that in the negative sense.)


    • Thanks Donald 🙂 Right now I am just applying to every job that fits my skill set online. I also have 2 head-hunters who specialize in creative talent looking for me as well. It has only been about 6 weeks that I have been searching, so I’m still trying to be patient. (Easier said than done!) I’ve had a few nibbles but no takers yet.

  5. Oh! This reminds me of this quotation I saw the other day and thought was quite clever: “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” (Steven Furtick) I think it applies here.

    Good luck with your job hunt. Job hunting is the worst, so I feel for you. You will get a job soon enough though, and when you do you will miss the tomato-sniffing liberty of unemployment. So enjoy those avocados while you can. 🙂

    • Sorry, I don’t know why that would be happening… but I have a friend who I can contact that might. Thanks for reading and I’ll get back to you with a solution if we can find one! 🙂

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