A very close friend just recently moved to Hawaii, and if anyone was paying attention to the news the weekend before last you already know why that’s a problem. To shorten a long story there was a false missile warning and everyone was thinking it could be the end. Terrified, everyone in the 50th state, scrambled into buildings got into traffic jams and basically didn’t really know what to do.
Having just read a couple headlines and not knowing any details (thinking it was maybe a 1 or 2 minute ordeal at best, and finding out later that it lasted nearly 40 minutes) I ‘tactfully’ fired off a text to my friend thinking this was my chance to make a ‘ha, ha, you were terrified you were going to die’ joke…you know, like grown ups do.
Here’s our actual text exchange (poorly edited for clarity):
Me: "Sooo, have you cleaned the shit out of everyone’s pants after the ‘Emergency Alert’ you got this morning?"
Him: "No amount of cleaning product can take care of that. Those pants are trash. I thought today was the day I die. Scariest thing that has ever happened to me."[He then went on to detail being terrified, scrambling home to get his family, and taking them to hide in a concrete building]
Me: Bug eyed moji, (to express shock at his response).
Me again: "I slept in this morning and made pancakes."
Me a third time: Guilty 'teeth clinch' moji.
Him: "I’m taking my third diarrhea today!"
Needless to say that after hearing this story it put me in one of those “I need to appreciate every day” moods. You know, that sensation that you get after hearing about someone who just found out about their terminal disease or after watching any inspirational movie ever.
“Today’s the day,” we all say, “I’m living to the fullest from here on out!”
But what does that really mean? What can we really do? I mean sure I’m scheduled to participate in 3 separate eating contests next weekend, but I planned those weeks ago after watching Rocky 4.
The reality was, after I heard this news about the missile warning, I woke up the next day feeling maddeningly cranky. I had endured an especially shitty sleep that night and I proceeded to be annoyed and irritated with every point of resistance and set back throughout my day. Here’s some stuff I said that can’t be taken back:
“If I step on one more sharp Lego I’m gonna put someone’s teddy bear in the blender!”
“Who moved my glasses?!! Huh? Who did that? I swear I’m gonna load these kids in the car and drop them off at the orphanage until they…oh, here they are!...WHO HID MY GLASSES IN THE uh…case?”
“Son, if you don’t eat that quarter cup of Mac and Cheese, that cost me $4, I’m going to sublet your room to those two ‘methy’ looking hitchhikers we passed on the way here!”
O.k., maybe those weren’t my EXACT responses, but what troubled me was my inability to truly be awoken, I mean, this was my response to my friend’s story? A day of snapping at my kids and feeling vulnerable to every unplanned setback?
I really don’t know what I expected. I mean, what was supposed to happen? Were birds going to fly in through the window and dress me like Snow White? Were my kids supposed to understand my new mindset all of a sudden and NOT be picky eaters, NOT touch my glasses, and pick up all their Legos? Of course not, life continues, even the shitty stuff, and it doesn’t care about my epiphanies or what stories I heard or saw or read the day before that gave me this new lease.
I think the will to change was there but the problem was a lack of definition and specificity about what I planned to do. The only thing I can come up with that might have some kind of effect on my attitude is some kind of gratitude habit.
My last blog post was about New Years resolutions and our inability to stick to them. I sort of declared I was going to get up earlier, and so far I’ve done EHHHH…o.k. Out of the 22 days we’ve had in January I’ve risen early for 9 of them but perhaps what needs to be heaped on top of my efficiency resolution is a consistent daily gratitude session. Given the day I had directly after my text exchange with my friend, don’t think it’s realistic to expect life to be this perfect, glorious, journey. What we can do, however, is take a moment and be aware of what we have on a more consistent basis and maybe over time that can make my kids SEEM less picky, and the Legos SEEM less like razor blades. Plus it’s really the least I can do to compensate for the reality that I can’t remember the last time I had diarrhea.
HEY! I think I just found the first thing I’m grateful for!