The trouble is, you think you have time.
Today was a bad day. Not a bad day because work didn’t go well. Not a bad day because something bad happened to someone I care about. Not a bad day because of a car accident. Not a bad day because someone was climbing out windows and running down the street. Today was a bad day because I chose to make it a bad day. That’s the truth. It was my day to make and I kinda bumbled it.
I really wanted to blame it on my husband. We had a tiff last night and my feelings were hurt. We both over-reacted. We said sorry. He said it was ok and to let it go. He was right. But I held on. I managed to successfully blame him for a good chunk of the day. After all, he hurt my feelings, right? He should take more responsibility for his part in how things went sideways, right? I am totally justified in being hurt and nursing my wounds…right…?
I really wanted to blame my daughter. She’s an easy target because she can be really difficult. She wasn’t being really difficult today. But I was having a bad day and it was spilling out all over the place. Why can’t she clean up after herself? Why can’t she brush her teeth right? The food in her braces is gross. Why can’t she just leave her brother alone? She’s ten years old, how come she can’t load the stupid dishwasher?
I really wanted to blame the Universe, Spirit, God, Buddha (or whatever makes sense to you) for my crap day. Why is my life so hard? Why do I always struggle? Why can’t things just be easy? Haven’t I done enough to earn some easy??
I wasn’t very nice today. I snapped at my husband– he better be home in time so I’m not late for my client. I snapped at my son– he better not keep leaving things out on the grass overnight or he is going to spend time in his room. I snapped at my daughter– you better stop (insert pretty much anything she was doing) or you are going to your room and you can’t go on your playdate.
Actually, I wasn’t snapping so much as talking loudly and angrily. Fine. I yelled. Yuck. So not proud of that. But I did and no one but Ernie (our dog) was exempt from my pity party. I even yelled (internally) at the Universe, Spirit, God, Buddha (or whatever makes sense to you). You better help me because all I want is to feel happy, I yelled. Isn’t that your job? Why aren’t you doing your job?
Except I know it’s not Buddha’s job or my husband’s job or my kids’ job or even my dog’s job to make me feel happy. It’s my job. It’s not like I don’t know that. I know that. And for most of the day, this voice inside my head kept yelling, “Megan, what the fuck is wrong with you?? Pull it together! You are being a bitch! You are completely ruining this day! You are hurting everyone around you and you know better!! What is wrong with you???” So you see? I know whose job it is. I knew I was doing a poor job.
Unfortunately, that particular voice didn’t help. In fact, it made things worse. It just added feeling-like-shit-about-myself-for-being-such-a-bad-person to the mix. Then the guilt about acting this way took over. It was lurking in the background all day anyway because I knew I wasn’t doing anything that would help the situation. I was doing everything to nurse my bad mood. I knew my bad day was because I was choosing to have a bad day. Period. No one was doing this to me but me.
It was at this point that I finally started paying attention to the other voice that had been trying to be heard all day. This voice was quieter and more gentle, but definitely persistent. This voice kept saying it was going to be ok. That I didn’t have to stay angry. That I could let it go. That I’d feel better if I just took a deep breath and stepped back and put down my crankiness and said sorry and moved on. Like, literally– stop, breathe, make a choice that feels good. And then just move on. That’s it. That’s all you have to do.
Every thing in me calmed down. I finally journaled and did my meditation and let myself let go of my anger (I couldn’t even name what I was so pissed off about at that point). I took responsibility for the lovely (not) day I had created. I know that sounds like what you are ‘supposed’ to do and maybe woo-woo and “yeah right”, but it’s what I did and it’s what worked. Finally. I wasn’t all giggles and over-the-rainbow happy, but I felt a lot better. I was a lot calmer. I knew tomorrow would be better for sure.
I had some apologizing to do, so I did it. And I meant it. I felt really bad about how I had acted and I felt not so proud of my choices. I had some lingering guilt. Who wouldn’t? I was definitely not at my best. But I remembered that saying about how it’s not a bad life, just a bad day. Have you heard that one? And that’s the truth of today. My life isn’t bad. I’m not bad. I just had a bad day. It happens. To everyone.
You probably think we have reached the final moral of the story, right? It’s actually a pretty good ending. But it’s not the end, because I actually got hit by a big ‘ole grand-finale type moral for The Story of the Bad Day.
Once I’d gotten everything turned around and going in a better direction, I had a thought. I thought, “I need a do-over for today.” Pretty benign, right? Except it hit me like a ton of bricks. Seriously. It was one of those a-ha moments that rocked me. I had this huge understanding: I don’t get a do-over. Do-overs don’t exist.
It’s true. I don’t get this day back to do again a different way. I don’t get to go back and change my attitude and change things so that I have a fun day with my family. I don’t get this day back. Period. I don’t get to do it over. I don’t get to make it different. Because you don’t get time back.
It is so critical to remember that NOW never comes again. Never. Choosing to nurture my anger and frustration for those 8-10 hours meant that I didn’t get 8-10 hours of joy or happiness or anything that I really wanted.
I didn’t get to re-do Zumba class and rock-out to Shut-Up and Dance with Me. I didn’t get to re-do my interaction with Eli (my son) where he was showing me the sword he drew on his arm as a tattoo and make it so I paid attention and told him how cool it was and helped him feel good. I don’t get to go back and re-experience my morning that was actually better than normal because Ari (my daughter) was kinda easy, for her anyway. I didn’t get to re-do any of it. I don’t get a do-over because do-overs aren’t a real thing. They don’t exist.
I don’t share this to be a downer. I share this so that you might feel the urgency I did in my heart around choosing– very carefully and wisely— how to use my time. We only get right now once. That’s it. And then it’s gone.
The Buddha taught that, “The trouble is, we think we have time.” We think we have plenty of time, so we aren’t careful about how we spend it. But the reality is that we don’t have any idea how much time we’ve got. What we do with our time matters because we don’t know when we we will run out of it. And that is the final moral of this story about my bad day.
Plus, I’ll tell you this– I don’t want to look back on my life and see a whole bunch of days I want to do-over because I chose poorly. If do-overs did exist, I’d want to look back on my life and see a bunch of days I’d love to do-over because they were so ‘EFFING FANTASTIC!! I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you want the same thing :o) Pretty safe guess, right…?