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When life is charmed but unsatisfactory

We take the children out for ice cream at Baskin Robbins every once and again. On a couple of occasions, one of the younger kids chose a clown-flavor – something like cotton candy, pink bubblegum, or rainbow sherbet.

I tried to convince her that she was making a mistake. “What about Oreo or Rocky Road? You love those… Are you sure?” She could not resist the pull of the bright contrasting colors. She pointed enthusiastically and announced her selection to everyone in the shop. As the apron-clad employee extended the single scoop to my daughter, she reached out with two hands and awed excitement. The cares of the world melted away as she took that first taste.

After a few more bites though, my daughter noticed my chocolate fudge cone and how much I was enjoying it. She asked for a taste. Then another. Then she offered a trade. I rejected it knowing that I had chosen the ideal flavor for my palette. Then came the tears, pointing, and denunciations. Her mother stepped in to console her and resolve the situation.

So there I was holding a bright blue and/or pink ice cream cone and watching my little girl smear chocolate all over her face. Of course I still ate the sticky cone but was not happy about it.

Our family has a phrase for the times when life is objectively amazing yet somehow miserable. We call it “ice cream angry.” These are the moments when we are holding a figurative ice cream cone on a perfect summer day and still screaming. We look around and see people who have seemingly larger scoops, better flavors, or more toppings.

Examples of ice cream angry people are all around us: millionaires unhappy with their paychecks, Olympians disappointed with their silver medals, spouses upset at their devoted but imperfect partners, and plane passengers dissatisfied with the Wi-Fi connection when flying 500 mph through the sky!

What if we are all ice cream angry in a way? What if we could step back and see that so much of life is glorious and beautiful? What if we could forget the unfairness of it all and remember that we are each holding an oversized ice cream cone?

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