When I was young I loved to watch Let’s Make a Deal. You know how this game show works. Monty Hall chooses someone from the audience and you’re given some entry-level prize, a TV or a wad of cash. But then Monty offers you the opportunity to trade for another prize—for what’s behind door number one, door number two, or door number three, where Carol Merrill is standing.
Now the drama builds. You could chuck your silly Magnavox and choose door number two. The curtain would open and there would be an exotic Polynesian diorama all set up, Carol sipping a drink with a little pink umbrella in it, and the announcer, Jay Stewart, would intone, “You’ve just won an all-expenses-paid trip toHawaii!”
But beware: you could chuck that perfectly good Magnavox for, say, door number three. And the curtain would open and there would be . . . a rusted out Studebaker, or the one I remember so well. A swayback donkey, and Carol in a silly Mexican poncho with a big gaudy sombrero on her head as if to mock you. As a child I felt sorry for that poor contestant. I wondered how she was going to get that donkey back home with her to Dayton.
The whole premise of Let’s Make a Deal is, what you hold in your hands is not worth much, but if Monty Hall chooses you, you have the amazing opportunity of getting something better, something really nice. That’s the Creed we Americans live by. The life you have in your hands is not really worth anything, but if you’re shrewd you can trade it for something better. Flip your house. Flip your wife. Change jobs. Move somewhere better. To be happy you have to get something you don’t now have. You have to make the right trades.
On Black Friday (well, actually, Thursday is now darkening) we enter the alternate reality of the “shopping season.” There’s something out there that you don’t now have, something that can bring you happiness or fulfillment. The trick is to find it and snap it up, preferably before someone else does.
Let’s make a deal.
Look at the gifts you hold in your hands. Maybe you wish they were different, larger, more valuable, as attractive as your neighbor’s. ‘Tis the trading season. The sense of something-better-in-the-offing is in the air. But think of this as Gold Friday, the day when everyone is able to see the riches, the treasures they already hold in their hands. See it now, as if for the first time. Don’t trade it for anything.
Susie Middleton says
Love that — “Look at the gifts you have in your hands.”
Thanks David. This is another excellent post and what I’m gathering from what you’re doing, post by post–you’re finding and naming the big truths and illustrating them with great stories. The big truths are those common truths, “what has been believed always, everywhere and by all”(to quote the Vincentian Canon). Some of these truths are self-evident. And some are not really evident at all until you invite us to think about them. That’s what you help us do. Thanks.
Right. Nothing new under the sun. Just a new way of seeing old truths, eternal truths.
I always loved that show and, like you, always felt so sorry for the losers. If only they had chosen door number . . . . Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for the gifts we already possess.
Read somewhere this weekend that happiness is appreciating what you have, not getting what you want. As for me I think “winning” that swayback donkey would be pretty cool!