I think I’ve figured out what I’m doing wrong. I have failed to apply the concept of reverse object permanence to my life.
“Object permanence” describes a phenomenon whereby children learn that even if something cannot be sensed, it still exists. Until age eight or nine months, they lose interest in something if they can’t see it. Developmental psychologists believe that very young children forget something exists if it’s concealed.
This must be what happens in my life. I don’t exist when people aren’t looking at me. This explains so much. I go about my life thinking everyone will be there when I go back for them. But the people in my life lack an understanding of object permanence with respect to me. When I’m absent, I simply cease to exist.
This explains a lot. All the slights about which I yearn not to complain might simply arise from every one’s mistaken impression that if I’m not in their field of sight, I vanished. From the earth. Forever.
My clients don’t pay their bill? Lack of object permanence. Friends forget to include me in a gathering? They don’t realize I still occupy a space in the universe. The yard guy misses a scheduled cutting? My insubstantiality extends to the entire property which I inhabit.
If you think you detect a bit of sarcasm, let me assure you that what I’m employing is not bitterness but humor. The solution to this phenomenon lies on the two-way street between me and everybody else. So be on notice: I have a new phone, and you’re all going on speed-dial.
As of this writing, I intend to call one friend every day to be sure that each of you knows that I recognize your continued existence. To be entirely honest, I’ll admit that I’m also motivated by the desire to alert you to my own continued presence. I won’t announce the order in which I intend to call. I will contact folks randomly and when they least expect it.
Don’t worry, though. I’ve mastered the concept of object permanence. You exist. You matter. I intend to be sure you never forget either point.
It’s the sixteenth day of the forty-third month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.