Monday December 21st 11.48 am:
I barely made it out of Wal-Mart before the self-made salt water was reacquainted with my cheek. I had tried so hard to keep it together but my morning had spiraled out of hand. My 7.33 alarm clock sounded the promise of a bright day. Boy, was I mistaken. I felt like I was the protagonist of an Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day sequel (otherwise known as, the book that teaches 2nd graders the importance of a thesaurus).
On my (first) drive home from the aforementioned store, I had talked myself down. It wasn’t even noon yet. There was plenty of time to turn the day around. I pulled into my drive way, grabbed the ceramic pot that I had purchased for my overgrown cactus and headed inside. That’s when I broke.
I had bought a ceramic pot, ceramic pot base-looking thing, page protectors, and a small .99 cent photo album. The bag of extras was not inside the ceramic pot as I had thought. I slammed my bag onto the kitchen table and stormed back to the car. The bag wasn’t there either. I went back to the kitchen. No bag. The car. No bag.
I called Customer Service as I yanked my car into reverse. Wal-Mart is only about 15 minutes from my house, but with holiday traffic and impatient drivers, it was the last place I wanted to return to. I was barely in the strip mall parking lot before I heard horns blaring and people yelling…because that’s my favorite way to get into the holiday spirit too.
I finally parked (far away from the chaos) and trudged through the rain into the store. I waited in an outrageously long customer service line and was promptly told that my stuff had been relocated and I’d have to find it again. No problem. Back to the gardening section. Back to finding an employee who would open the wall to the outside of the gardening section (the inside had been replaced with Christmas and who in their right mind wanted to go out to the normal section in the December rain? Oh that’s right. Hi, sir, it’s me again, could you open the wall)? Back to the office supplies. Back to the photo section. Back to customer service.
I had the wrong page protectors. Back to the office supplies. They’re out of the cheap page protectors. Pay the difference.
I just wanted page protectors.
I stumbled back into the parking lot. That’s when it happened. I mean, it happens every time I go into Wal-Mart. It happens after a 5 minute trip or a 50 minute trip. I leave the store and lose my car. This was it, I finally had my coveted page protectors and as my face felt the slap of cold wind and rain, I lost it. I walked aisle to aisle in confusion and finally let the moment break me.
Then, suddenly, like a glass of water for a parched man, my glance caught the oval WC sticker that adorns the back of the car as an ode to my alma mater, Westminster College. It was the greatest site of the morning.
I climbed into my car, collected myself, and forced myself to believe that the day was salvageable.
I came home (part II), page protectors in hand and immediately grabbed my stop watch and sneakers. Rain mixed with sweat off my shoulders and I got to thinking.
It didn’t have to be a bad day.
I proceeded to run my pre-measured course faster than I had the day before and took time to properly stretch and cool down afterwards.
Maybe it was just a bad morning.
I showered and made myself an egg and cheese sandwich.
Or is “bad” really the right word? Maybe things were just “off.” It was an off morning.
I watched the tail end of a Jeopardy recording (my favorite) while I ate my late (but warm) lunch.
I mean, after all, a bad morning doesn’t mean a bad day.
I sat down at my computer to work on various projects and contact people about The Smile Project.
And so then a bad day doesn’t mean a bad week.
I got caught up with the emails I had missed in the morning.
And a bad week or a bad event wouldn’t justify calling an entire year bad.
And that’s when everything clicked. Each year around this time, there are people who eagerly announce to their social media world that “2015 just wasn’t their year.” and “Thank goodness it’s almost 2016.” (Coincidentally, these are the same people who wrote “2015 will be the best year yet” and “can’t wait!” this time last year).
Now I’m not trying to call anyone out, but simply serve as a subtle wake-up call. You should never write an entire day off just because of a less than ideal morning. I was not at all happy with the course of events that occurred on my Monday morning. But I didn’t let them ruin my afternoon. And in fact, that’s the most important take-away here.
A bad morning is not a bad day. A bad day is not a bad week. A bad week is not a bad year. And most importantly, a bad year (if you really must use that phrase) does not equal a bad life.
I had two options when I returned from the store (part II). I could have dragged my sleep deprived body into a bed and given up on the day. Or, I could have grabbed my running attire and headed out the door.
I chose to run off my frustration and landed with a small victory, even if it was just in the form of a 20 second improvement from the previous day. I chose to make myself a healthy meal and indulge for a few moments with the only relevant television show (Jeopardy, I’m still waiting for my phone call). I chose to sit down and be productive and work on projects that bring me joy. I chose to fight the day.
I think I won.
To all those who are engaging in “end of year reflections” I challenge you to think of three good things for every one bad. I know for some of you, that may be difficult, but I never assign challenges I don’t think you all can keep.
Maybe you think there is no way you can find that much good. But did you ever realize that that may be because you are focusing too much on the bad?
Sir John Lubbock, an English banker, philanthropist, scientist, and politician once said:
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”
If this is the case, then how about we change the way we remember our year? How about we take the days as they come and when the morning turns to hell, how about we make the afternoon into our own heaven?
There’s no reason to throw away a day, a month, or even a year in hindsight because somewhere in the past almost 365 days you have laughed until you’ve cried and you have danced with someone you love, even if it was just a friend or family member and you have seen a small child smile and you have watched an elderly couple in love and somewhere in the past almost 365 days you have been happy. And even if it was only for one fleeting moment, that makes it a good year.
Thank you for being part of another amazing year.