I guess I'll take another look at yesterday. It was a 24-hour panorama, and I have offered a gloomy 2-minute snapshot of the thing, meaning that for 23 hours, 58 minutes, I have been blind.
Blind. "Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness." (Jesus) Bad eyes--bad, dark days. Good eyes--maybe something else.
Pollyanna played The Glad Game, and we have come to use her name to belittle people who intentionally choose an optimistic view. Pollyanna wore these words on her brooch (with fictional attribution to Abe Lincoln): "When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." Could the same be said of what I look for in a day? Was Pollyanna really that far off base, or are do I just feel safer in my cynicism if I blow her off as a cheesy Disney character?
So here is another view of the same day I described yesterday. No less true, just seen through a different glass, less darkly.
I woke up--dry, safe, beside the woman I've loved for the last lucky 13 years, whose warmth radiated onto my skin under the thick covers.
I took a hot shower with running water and soap. I chose from an assortment of clothes and found something in good repair, nearly clean, warm enough, that I liked.
I went into the overstocked kitchen and drank two large glasses of clean mountain spring water from the tap. I opened the cupboard and spread my very favorite food--Laura Scudder's peanut butter--onto two slices of bread, adding a half banana to each and rolling them into tacos for breakfast. I threw my favorite apple (Fuji, the big ones from Costco) into the bag and headed for the door.
My daughter, Brielle, opened the door to the great room, walked over in silence, and opened her arms to me for a giant tiny embrace. "Bye-bye, Daddy. I'll miss you while you're at work today." A few seconds more of her squeeze and she slid to the floor and disappeared again into the hallway.
I stepped out of the house I own (with a nice 30-year fixed-rate mortage) and into a world of white. Three inches of snow had covered the trees and everything else. I breathed it in.
Having heard the forecast, the car--still going strong after 200,000 miles--was already chained up. I drove to the highway, which was in excellent repair and well plowed. The snow-covered mountains at dawn were a freezing delight, like ice cream for the eyes. I listened to my favorite band, Jars of Clay, on the CD player half the trip and then switched to my favorite radio station, KVCR, our local NPR. I got a call from my brother about our childhood friend who was in grave danger after complications from a C-section, asking me to pray and invite others to pray. I did.
I made it to work late, but didn't get in trouble. I was paid well for doing a job I love, and it was a minimum day because of finals. I grabbed lunch at a local taquería that makes a killer veggie burrito. After school I helped our best and brightest students hone their speeches for the weekend's Academic Decathlon.
I swung by the public library and checked out eight books free of charge, then drove to the urgent care center, where I hung out with Brielle and Rachelle. Brielle's right eye was barely open after her faceplant into the log while sledding that morning--but she was an angel despite that and her three-hour wait to be seen. Rachelle was still sane too, and happy to see me. I paid a $15 copay for Brielle to see a licensed physician and have X-rays done. Both doctor and X-rays told us we had nothing to worry about.
I went to the auto parts store, where they exchanged a broken set of tire chains without any questions. Rachelle and I met up and ditched a car, allowing us to carpool home. We made it up the snowy road safely without putting chains on. Passing a car that had gone over the edge, I thought about how fragile a package is life, and prayed thanks that mine was being delivered safely home today.
We arrived at the home of my in-laws, who had been willing to watch the twins while Rachelle took Brielle to urgent care. They were well-fed, well-loved and happy to see me. I smashed my head on their countertop, but neither head nor counter were seriously damaged. I made an idiot of myself in front of Rachelle's folks with the ensuing tantrum, but they have still not threatened to take their daughter or granddaughters away from me. I also made an idiot of myself in front of my daughters, but Ashlyn, at least, got a laugh out of it.
I drove my family home.
Questions I'm asking myself:
- Which of these stories--today's version or yesterday's--will readers prefer?
- What is it that makes me so attached to yesterday's version when today's leaves my soul in such a better place?
- How can I reconcile or balance the need for realism, and compassion for real suffering, with the benefits of focusing on the positive?
- Which of these do my kids need my help seeing more of?