“There are good days and bad days.”
The words come out of my mouth. I sense an odd discomfort. The phrase once belonged to my brother Tim and later my late husband John. Each lived with pain awaiting their death. It was a way of saying “Some days it hurts a little less than others.”
I live in a pain-free body in apparently perfect health. I hope to become a centenarian. Yet these words were now a part of my pandemic vocabulary.
What was I calling a “bad” day? A “good” day?
I hit the gene lottery good days. I got the happiness genes. (Yes, they’re a thing.) I also got circumstances— being born white and healthy into a Midwestern two parent family.
Despite my baseline of positivity, some of my days are definitely better than others.
I have a longstanding habit of taking in news from my neighborhood to New Zealand. This now gives me an exponentially increased opportunity for giving myself a “bad day”. Fears of being irresponsible or ignorant in a time when my acceptance of a party invitation or failure to don my mask could lead to someone’s death keeps me taking in some dose devastating data most days.
When I was a stressed-out young mother and struggling solo lawyer, my friend Melinda gave me advice for my overwhelm. Ask yourself, “Who is important? What is essential?”
As I create my overly optimistic daily To Do list, I reserve the upper right hand corner for a current short list of my “Who.” My friend Tony, who lost his father to the virus. Marisa, my stepdaughter schoolteacher re-entering the classroom under COVID. Christine, who lives alone.
My “best” days are the ones where I choose to connect. I’d be wise to put “Me” on the list sometimes, too, since solitude gives me connection with myself. I can then shift my thoughts from the massive suffering and its exacerbation by those who might ease it. I am comforted by the voice of a loved one and the monarch munching on my pink zinnia.
Even the smallest connection is good, and it always guarantees a better day.
May this day of yours be good, with many better days to follow. That will be just the best.
What makes your days “better”?
Does connecting with others increase the meaning or happiness of your day?
Who might you reach out to make this day better for them?