Putting Down Roots


we get what we get and we don’t get upset
November 7, 2011, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Annie was the one who brought this gem to camp from her days working at a day care. It has a not-very-sophisticated tune and she sang it mostly when doing things like handing out different-colored freeze pops: “we get what we get and we don’t get upset, we get what we get what we GET” (the caps there symbolize both an increase in volume and a rise to some indistinguishable high note.) At camp, we used it with campers for, yes, freeze pop distribution, as well as when campers were balking about having to get into the grey kayak instead of the green-flowery one, or when a group of swimmers had to practice backfloats (yes, again) before they could dive for rings.

The phrase gained popularity amongst the staff. We’d say it to each other when we didn’t want to teach swimming lessons, or plan another on-the-spot lunch skit, or have a meeting during rest hour when we really only wanted to nap. I found myself saying it even in fairly serious situations: a counselor coming to me in tears with a particularly difficult cabin group, a staff member getting moved unexpectedly to a different job.

And, at the end of the summer, when I was hoping to get the year-round position working at camp, and didn’t: we get what we get and we don’t get upset.

It’s a philosphy that I’ve adopted heartily this year, as so much hasn’t gone the way I would want it. It’s taught me a lot.

For years, between college and summer camp, I’ve been completely surrounded by fabulous people who are my same age, and share my same interests, and are mostly warm and kind and interested in building relationships. I have had more potential friends than I’ve had time to build friendships; I’ve had days full of meaningful conversations where I’ve gone to bed with my head swimming with all of the folks that I missed and needed to connect with the next day.

I used to live in a place where I couldn’t make breakfast without rubbing shoulders with any of a dozen people who I genuinely love; now I live in a weird cul-de-sac community where I don’t know any of my neighbors. I used to wake up every morning, look around, and think gratefully, “wow, I get to live here;” now, I work to look for things of beauty and wonder on my concrete-and-strip-mall-and-housing-development lined bike communte.

At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t do much good to dwell on all the things that I want or don’t want, that I have or don’t have. At the end of the day, I’m still remarkably blessed: even if my best friends are women in their fifties, even if the people I spend most of my day with can’t really talk, even if I’m kind of lonely and frustrated. I’m trying to put less energy into the “what-ifs,” and more into making the best of what I’ve got.

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