The Possibilities in Disappointment

 Sometimes I get disappointed. I feel it slither inside me when people don’t return phone calls or emails, leaving me to wonder how much energy can it take to type ‘Yes, got it’ or ‘No. Too busy” and hit ‘send’? I figure you make time for what’s important. It’s disappointing to be reminded in this small way of my unimportance.

I’m disappointed  (baffled!) when WCI’s donors don’t respond after news of successes or, more distressingly, after urgent requests for help to keep the good news coming.

I find it disappointing when people don’t bother to do their work guided by a standard of excellence. Life is short. Why piss away an opportunity to shine?

A recent disappointment provoked this train of thought. Last year, I’d submitted an essay for inclusion in an anthology by a women’s network purportedly dedicated to “leaving no woman behind.” The essay got accepted and I got a release to sign. I questioned why the writers (all women) had to sign away every right to their work without any compensation. I was informed that the last anthology made no money and this one likely would fare no better.  I could sign the release or be removed. So I signed.

At the recent book debut party, I discovered that my essay had not been included. Not a word of this from the editors. The readers at the event had not  been given even a complimentary copy – the minimum professional courtesy in publishing. And by way of introduction, the editor declared the previous book has been “well received” and a “bestseller.”

I care less about publication than about the business of ‘handling’ writers. It matters that we be treated with a modicum of respect accorded to other useful human efforts. Are women writers so undervalued as to feel flattered when their words end up a book without any compensation beyond “having our voices heard?”  Banks don’t honor that currency.

Perhaps I’m obstinately naïve, but I take it harder when dissed by women, from whom I expect at least a nod of consideration as sisters in a common struggle. Of course the dangerous word here is expect. Who am I to expect? Life is full of obligations pulling us from all sides.

Joseph Campbell (The Power of Myth) offers a way to triumph over disappointment. I paraphrase:

Take your life’s situation AS IF it had been your intention – not literally, but AS IF it had been your intention. With that, you evoke the participation of your will to look for the possibilities in your situation.

So, I move on. I forgive real or imagined slights. I keep on my path, mined as it is with distractions and rejections. I’ve got enough allies to keep me fueled. And surely more will show up. There’s grace and serendipity in a life lived with intention to explore possibilities – without expectations.

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