This summer, we had to put new shingles on our house. Our next door neighbor, as it happens, does that for a living. As does his son. So, being good neighbors, we hired them to do it. During the course of conversation with the father one evening, I mentioned that my wife, Tracy, and I were both authors.
A couple of days later, while they’re working on the roof, the son says to me, “The way I hear it, you guys are made of money. Maybe we should shingle the roof in hundred-dollar bills.”
I told him we could do that, as long as he supplied the hundred-dollar bills.
Mostly, I find the perceptions about authors amusing. I know lots of New York Times Best-Selling authors that have to have a day job because, y’know, the bills just keep showing up in the mailbox. And the companies that send them actually expect them to be paid. <gasp!>
Anyway, it’s always fascinated me how easily perceptions can lead you astray. Lemme show you what I mean.
There’s this couple in our neighborhood. One of those couples.
You know the kind — they’re perfect. Their lawn is always perfectly manicured. Their hedges are always perfectly trimmed. They drive the latest, greatest vehicles. Their house is always clean and neat. They just put solar panels on the roof of their house. In the winter, their driveway and sidewalk is always shoveled. Never a hair, a leaf, or a blade of grass out of place.
There’s another couple in the neighborhood — health nuts. Vegans. Both of them wear Fitbits. Their dinners consist of nothing but chick peas, steamed kale, and carrot sticks. Up before the crack of dawn, 4:30, most mornings. In bed before 9:00 PM, most nights. Own their own business, work from home, and spend most of their day either cooking or working.
There’s a third couple for whom, if you asked them, the world is a very dangerous place. Everyone’s always out to get them. They’re always watching out for the next threat, the next time somebody is going to stick it to them. He spends two hours a day at the gym and has earned his black belt in Karate so that he can protect himself and everyone he loves. She stays locked in the house unless she absolutely has to go out.
I suspect that all of us know couples like this — couples whose lifestyles we can’t fathom, can’t even conceive of. I also suspect that each person reading this has already, at least subconsciously, decided whether or not they would like each of those couples, whether they would get along with them, be friends with them. I think that’s just human nature.
But, we’re only seeing one facet of each couples life. The exterior. And we’re viewing it and filtering it through our own interior lives. It’s an apples to oranges comparison.
What if I told you that the first couple, Mr. & Mrs. Perfect, are in debt up to their eyeballs? That they lead a tension-filled existence, just one lost paycheck away from total disaster? Always on the verge of that house of cards collapsing?
What if I told you that the second couple, Mr. & Mrs. Vegan, were just one Happy Meal away from death before they changed their diet? That now, the high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and pre-diabetes-level high blood sugar had all been taken care of, returned to normal, by what most of us would characterize as an extreme diet?
What if I told you that the third couple, Mr & Mrs. On Guard, were not very popular when they were in school? Constantly picked on and taunted, tormented and teased until they were in tears? And, as we all know, the lessons we learn in our formative years follow us into adulthood.
It’s interesting how the perception surrounding those couples changes, isn’t it? Although, you might still hang on to the subconscious decision that you probably wouldn’t ever be best friends with them.
Now, I’ve got one more for you. I really do know all three of those couples. I haven’t made them up. In fact, one of them is Tracy and I. Can you guess which one?