I never have a bad day.
And while that statement sounds like an obnoxious brag, it’s true.
You might think the pandemic, separation, COVID or the cyber attack that paralyzed and erased ten years of work at the college where I teach could cause a bad day but NOPE.
There is no secret formula, and I am not numbed out on drugs or alcohol. I have just become really close with pain and grief— like pull-up-a-chair-and-stay-a-while close to heartbreak. In so doing, I have learned to be absolutely, irrefutably honest with myself. And if I am being truthful, I will admit I have no bad days.
But...I can have some really bad quarters.
In one of the quatrillion self help books on my shelf, I read that we should measure our life in 15 minute increments rather than days. It makes sense. I mean, I can change minute to minute. Give me 24 hours and I might not even be the same woman. And if the saying goes, “It’s a bad day, not a bad life,” this philosophy takes it even a step further.
Let me explain how it works. This week I went back to my office for the first time in about a year (I have been teaching and handling office hours virtually). I was having a great day out enjoying the sunshine with my kids when I remembered I needed to get something from campus. It would only take a second, I told them. I’ll be in and out.
When I turned the key and flipped on the light, my heart dropped to my toes and I gripped the side of my desk to steady my weak knees. I had walked into a lifesize time capsule— a quantum leap back to pre-pandemic, pre-separation life. I sat down and let the pictures of memories and family trips wash over me. I looked into the sparkling eyes of a woman standing next to her best friend. I touched the framed faces of my blonde babies. Party of four. It was the ghost of marriage past.
The campus was completely deserted; no one was there to interrupt me sitting through my pain. It was a very tough quarter.
But as the theory suggests, a day is made of many, many quarters. One hour has four all of its own. I will admit that this jarring quarter kept me down for at least two but not many more. See, I have learned that pain and heartbreak can come, but they can also keep on going. I can wave hello, hug them close, then send them on their way. They don’t live here.
As I reflected back on that day in my journal, I listed out all the beautiful quarters that happened throughout the twelve hour period— a sunshiny walk with a neighbor, a haircut for my dog, thrift shopping with my daughter, a workout on my back patio, etc. Yes, there were bad quarters sprinkled in there, but it would be pretty misleading to label it a bad day. It wasn’t.
While I might not have bad days, I have bad moments that I would not wish on my worst enemy. If CrossFit taught me anything, it is that time can be an evil trickster. Fifteen minutes can feel like an eternity in a workout. But while the clock can save you from a grueling WOD, so can time keep you moving through life’s painful moments. The same impermanence that used to scare me to death now brings great comfort. You can do anything for 15 minutes. And this is not where you live, fellow traveler. You’re just passing through.
Image: Spending my birthday with a horse named Gypsy thanks to the world's best best friend.