I remember being little and hearing old folks talk about having good days and bad days. They would be speaking to another older person when asked how they were doing, and the reply was always, “Well, you know…. there are good days and bad days.”
Perhaps prematurely, we understand what they mean by that. Some days are good. Some days are bad. Yesterday was bad.
We’ve learned that most difficult days are caused by fatigue. I remember some super-wise young dude I met at a cook-out my sister and I had many years ago. It’s funny how little, seemingly insignificant moments like this stand out, and yet you draw upon them for decades. This guy was a coworker of my sister, and I never talked to him before or since. I don’t know his name, yet I think of what we said many, many times. The first thing he said was in regard to soul mates. He said there are probably 100,000 possible soul mates for each person right now. I remember joking that with my luck, 99,999 of my soul mates were in a rice field in China right now, on the other side of the world, and didn’t even speak my language. (In fact, as I would learn about 22 years later, my only, English speaking soulmate – Kevin -was in Atlanta at the time). The other thing – strangely – I remember from our brief conversation was this guy saying was that most people’s depression was caused by a lack of sleep. He said, “you know, if you think about it – if people just went to sleep instead of committing suicide, a lot of people would still be alive today. Because tomorrow is always better.”
How odd these things would stay with me and still be pertinent today. But so many years later it still begs the question:
Is tomorrow always better?
It’s hard to think of tomorrow being better when yesterday looked so good. I have stacks of yesterdays in my house. I have an attic full of them, several boxes in the basement, a whole dining room featuring a shrine of yesterdays. I have photos of yesterdays in clusters hanging on my walls. I save old perfume bottles for a long time to remind me of the times by scents I wore. I even have yesterday garments saved for no other reason than to remember a specific yesterday. When it comes to yesterday, I am an expert. Tomorrow has only been an acquaintance. So I’ve been wondering – perhaps it’s time we get to know each other better.
Old people sure look frail but they are incredibly strong. I cannot comprehend the grace and faith my grandparents had in their later years, right up until their deaths. How do you approach these things with such courage and steadfastness? Perhaps it is a matter of knowing. Or, perhaps it is a matter of not knowing, and being okay with that. Perhaps they knew tomorrow better than I.
I think more about dying than most people do. I have books upon books about dying, after death, near death, reincarnation. These stories are lovely and inspirational to read about, like holding a newborn baby after labor, but skipping the labor part. These are unearned experiences. I trick myself this way. It’s my way of playing. I strive to turn the unknown into something familiar, and attempt to create a map for tomorrows. This is futile because there’s no studying a map for the unknown. One can only practice how to best contend with tomorrow.
I traded “why” in for “how”
How has become a big question I decided to start asking myself.
A favorite customer named Billy is someone Kevin and I like very much. He is by nature, a very inspirational guy – one of those people everyone speaks to when they have a problem. If he’s reading I hope he knows how much his limited time spent with us has influenced us. Aside from great, fun projects, working with and knowing him has been a real treat, and has improved us.
While we love his job and the work he does, what I find most amazing is his optimism. Not blind optimism. This man routinely does the impossible, and under tremendous pressure. When things go wrong, he rights them. When there’s a decision to be made and people clamoring, he answers every single person, and still gets things done. When he’s under pressure he remains calm. He is nearly always smiling. There are times when he’s short, terse and busy, but he is conscious to make those communications brief and spend more time in areas he prioritizes. We admire this. He rewards himself, he has fun, he is gregarious and kind – BUT in my opinion, the most important thing he does is ask “how?”.
- “How can we make this happen?”
- “How can I help you?”
- “How can this be improved?”
- “How can we make it better?
How is a tomorrow word. It’s the smartest way of thinking because it borrows from yesterday and creates a bridge to the unknown.
So, while we had a bad day yesterday, today I will ask ‘how’ about something. Such as, “how can I do better?”.