After dinner showed up an hour late and cold enough to ice down the beer, I was a jerk to the delivery guy. In my defense, dinner was an hour late–and unprotected by those thermal sleeves pizza places who make their own deliveries use. If I’d known the 7:15 delivery estimate meant central time, I’d have gone myself. And then I got in a fight with my wife to cement my title of asshole of the day.
Because I expect I’m not alone in these periodic moments of assholery these days, it’s important to do the following:
Recognize that it’s hard. When I grew up, news really was boring. We spent the better part of a week one year on the rabbit that tried to attack Jimmy Carter while he was out. We have more tough news every month than we’d have in five years back then. This isn’t then. The news is happening around us and to us in a way that’s unparalleled for most of us. We get to struggle a bit.
When the shit’s hitting the fan, accept that there won’t be style points. The fan is buried these days. We’re facing the worst parts of 1918-1919, 1968, and 2009 all at once. And that’s before you add in the political angst of the end of the Nixon era and a growing mound of internal violence unparalleled since the US Civil War. Are you mostly holding things together right now? Congratulations. You’re a bad ass, especially if you don’t think you are. (Bad asses rarely recognize their status in the moment.)
Accept that you aren’t Jesus (or Gandhi or <insert mythically good role model here>). You’re gonna bitch at the delivery guy sometimes. Or get in a fight with your spouse. Or whatever it is that you do when you fall short. It’s not okay, but it’s understandable. Own it, try to do better, and move on. (Bonus note: Jesus doesn’t expect us to be him. And while he doesn’t brush away our hurts of his other people as meaningless, neither does he define us by them.)
Spend effort giving yourself credit for the mundane day-to-day. Are the kids you wanted to strangle for fighting during your work call healthy and relatively happy? Did dinner get on the table? Did you keep the lights on at work in spite of mind-numbing sameness and elbows thrown by people as stressed and frustrated as you are? (Especially that guy. You know who I mean.) Recognize that 2019 you thinks you’re amazing.
In every instance, we can choose to add to the experience of others or subtract from it. Last night I subtracted. But over all, I think I add. I suspect you do, too.
It’s a long game. It’s baseball, where you don’t reach base two-thirds of the time and the best teams lose sixty times a year.
Turn the page, learn, and do better today–and accept that you might not.
This will end, the same why everything does. In the meantime, the world is better for your presence in it.