It seems that during my meditation each morning I find myself apologizing to The Divine for the prior day’s failings and asking for strength to do better in the day ahead.
Until last Monday, when a voice rose from deep inside and yelled: “Can’t you give Me just one perfect day in return for all the years I’ve given you? Just one?”
I can’t make a rainy day turn golden or ensure that each of my two daughters will call to chat with the old dad.
But I can accomplish what I set out to do on any given day, and not give in to laziness, gluttony, or any of the other seven deadly sins. I can brush my teeth both in the morning and before bed, complete every task on my To Do List for the day, eat right, and get through the cocktail hour without falling into the bottle.
For me, a perfect day means controlling the things I can control. I fail only if I don’t live up to my own expectations.
When I was writing speeches for the future chairman of IBM, I wrote a line that proved telling in motivating employees: “When you give less than your best, you’re the first to know.”
For many people, a perfect day might be something big: their wedding day, or graduation, or promotion to head honcho. It could be something small: a memorable meal, a day devoted to doing your favorite thing, an uninterrupted day with a loved one. Days like these end with the feeling that “life is good.”
One of the most popular features in The New York Times is called “Sunday Routine.” Each weekend, the paper details the hour-by-hour activities that describe how a celebrity typically spends their day of rest.
The people who are featured are unfailingly, uniformly, and vomit-inducingly pretentious.
Each featured celeb usually owns a captivating pet, has clever children with uncommon names, sleeps with an equally successful spouse/partner, does brunches at little-known but marvelous neighborhood eateries where they are fast with the owner. Almost all of them fill the day with workouts at the gym, visits to boutiques and galleries, suppers with fascinating friends, and on and on.
What fascinates me is how hard these people work to make their day of rest special—all of them seeking the same rainbow’s end.
My daughter was sad when I told her that I continually judge myself as failing in so many of the things I set out to accomplish. She said, “Dad, you set your expectations too high.”
I took her words to heart and did a little reading. Here’s some of what I found:
Author Richelle Goodrich:
I think in the heart of every human being there burns an ember of hope that warmly entices us to believe everything will eventually come together into one perfect day, and that potentially the hours in this day will stretch on indefinitely. And so we live our lives in hopeful anticipation, dreaming and praying to reach this wondrous day, while in the process we miss out on the anxious affair that life truly is. Life is not perfection; it is everything else.
In other words, now is the perfect time. Today is the perfect day.
Finally, this from A.A. Milne’s endearing and enduring honey bear, Winnie the Pooh:
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
The next time my inner voice yells at me to do better, I might just yell back.
(Image: E.H. Shepard’s ink drawing, from The House at Pooh Corner, was the most expensive book illustration ever to sell ($493,000) at the time of its Sotheby’s auction in 2014. It depicts Pooh and his friends, Piglet and Christopher Robin, at the Posingford Bridge in East Sussex’s Ashdown Forest, Milne’s hometown.)
If you enjoyed reading this, you will like my new novel, Billy of the Tulips, a sensitive boy’s grim engagement with innocence and iniquity, now available in both print and Kindle from Amazon.