I think disappointment is the worst type of emotion.
You can feel sad without having to pinpoint a reason. Something as simple as the shining sun can turn a frown upside down. Plenty of people feel anxious or nervous for no real reason at all.
But with disappointment, there’s usually a definite cause, maybe sparked by an individual, group of people, or worse yet — oneself.
Disappointment in oneself means placing blame on the one person that no one wants to — right back in the mirror.
A couple of weekends ago, I felt disappointed in myself for one reason or another. (I won’t divulge details with the risk of this column turning into a dear diary event.)
Anyway, I was feeling pretty down in the dumps for a few days as I tried to get out of my self-induced funk.
It took me several days, but I returned to my normal self — cracking jokes, trying to get back to my usual productive lifestyle.
I’m lucky in that I think I’m a relatively mild-mannered individual. It takes a lot to rile me up. Conversely, it takes a lot to make an impact on me.
Something happened last weekend that did just that.
Driving home from a trip to Columbia, I passed a man walking down Highway 54 in Miller County.
This man wasn’t carrying a backpack, thumb outstretched. Rather, this man took a powerful pace down the shoulder, donning a neon windbreaker, athletic shorts and tennis shoes.
I’ve passed this man in my car before, so I knew what was coming. This power walker gave me an emphatic wave as I passed him by — a gesture I returned because of my familiarity with the situation.
This man is a stranger to me — I don’t know him from Adam — but thinking about his disposition in life gave me a sense of pause as I remembered how hard it was for me to snap out of my bad mood a week before.
I don’t know how often this stranger glides up the highway. I’ve seen him maybe about a half dozen times throughout my year and a half at the lake.
But each time I’ve seen him, the situation is the same. No matter what kind of day I’m having, he still has that wave and smile.
What an excellent metaphor for how to handle the various challenges — in my case, disappointment — of life. Although I’m no great connoisseur of poetry, there’s something poetic about this scenario.
Page 2 of 2 - He just continues on, head up, smiling despite the clouds, or wind, or drizzle. There’s a wave for everyone, despite a good possibility that the driver won’t reciprocate the simple act of kindness. And the wave is not half-hearted in any way. The wave is a full arm, all-in greeting a long-lost friend from afar type of wave.
I think we all ought to take a lesson in life from the “highway waver” as I like to call him.
No matter what kind of difficulties one faces, no matter how much hurt or disappointment one faces in what can be a cruel world, barrel ahead with a dogged perseverance, a smile and wave, and a dark place might just become filled with sunshine.
Yes, it’s hard to maintain that kind of outlook, especially when one considers the type of tests life throws at some individuals.
But that “highway waver” mentality might just make life’s disappointments a little easier to swallow.