Do you remember tobogganing as a kid? Careening down huge slopes laughing with ease and glee.
I remember the hill behind our house when I was growing up. It had 2 slopes! And a gentle plateau in between. It was AWESOME! But then – that climb back up, whew! Trudging, trudging, trudging, working, heavy breathing. And with an awkward saucer in tow. So much slower was the work of climbing up than the enjoyment found in sliding down.
A 15-minute climb
1-minute ride down
In the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, the same kind of ratio is at work. Chris Gardner [Will Smith] narrates the whole movie in segments that are titled by the struggles he encountered during this time in his life. It isn’t until the very end of the movie, after the whole venture, that we see the contrast of the reward to the work. He says, “This part of my life … This. Little. Part … is called happiness.”
The ratio of work to reward is an exceptional example of delayed gratification for sure. The running time of the movie is 2 hours and 25 minutes. It is only in the final scene, the last 5 minutes when he experiences the reward of his pursuit, happiness.
I think sometimes, well actually more times than sometimes, we want our lives to resemble the last 5 minutes of that movie. To be able to slide along into the ease of happiness as though it were something we deserved, instead of an opportunity worthy of pursuit. In truth, most of us would rather have the ratio inverted: 2 hours and 25 minutes of laughing with ease and glee gently leaned up against 5 minutes of struggle. After all, the world says, I deserve to have it now. In other words, I’m entitled to an easy life along with easy relationships. When this perspective of entitlement slips into our view of marriage we are destined for failure.
Inherently we all know, marriage isn’t a gentle downhill slide. Maybe not from personal experience but we’ve read the statistics and know the stories; nobody drifts into a vibrant successful marriage, coasting along in my role as a wife won’t be enough. I have to accept that a successful marriage includes diligent concentration and a commitment of energy into that uphill climb before I can settle into the rewards. I have to ask myself: Am I still on track or have I slipped into an attitude of entitlement?