Someone said to me the other day, “Well, everyone thinks you have the perfect family”.
I should tell you that I have a superpower. I over analyze EVERYTHING. So that remark has rolled around my head since I heard it. Now, I know this person absolutely meant no malice – and there wasn’t a smidgen of snide in that remark. But it made me wonder if somehow I was giving the impression that anything about my life is perfect.
I can’t stand pretentiousness. I despise folks who “put on airs”. Thankfully, I am neither smart enough or have enough energy to participate in that sport. Truly, what you see here is what you get. But there is a disclaimer and that is: I try to live my life hitting all the high spots.
My family disappoints, squabbles, fusses, acts a fool and breaks rules like everyone else does. I’m overweight, cranky, would rather rake than vacuum and I eat way too much pizza. Dave – well that’s a whole other story! Anyone who knows us knows that no one here on The Dirt Road is perfect. No one here on The Dirt Road is even vaguely spectacular.
But I have discovered the secret of life. And here it is, free of charge, I’m imparting it to you:
Life is short. Everything in life is temporary. All of it. The good times, the bad times, the insufferable years of living with teenagers, middle age crazies and confused old people. The times you have to count every penny, and the times you win the lottery and spend two million dollars in a day. (I’m not sure that’s even possible so consider that artistic license.) The day that everyone laughed at all your jokes and the day that no one cracked a smile. Temporary. This, too, shall pass.
Now that part is not the secret because everyone knows that part. Here’s the secret:
If I give the appearance that I lead a perfect anything it’s because every day I try to get up and put on my happy pants. I am not always successful but it is my primary goal every day. Some days I earn Olympic gold for sucking at it. But I try.
This morning I got up just after dawn. I wrapped myself in a blanket, got a cup of coffee, grabbed Hank and went outside to watch the day arrive.
I could choose to notice all the things that never get done around here, wish for my dream-house and that giant-big-ass-chrome-encrusted-four-wheel-drive-Dodge truck – or – I could sit still and watch Mr. and Mrs. Woodpecker catch bugs for their babies. I could sit here and worry about the lives of my children and obsess over their happiness and their sadness, their successes or their harder life lessons – or – I can thank God for their health, their intelligence and trust in His knowledge to keep them close in His care.
Every day it’s a choice. Dwelling in the sadness, counting the insults life has dealt you, keeping score over all you possess or are missing is one way to live. But it’s my choice to count the little things, love the simple things and be grateful for all things. Because some of the worst things that have happened to me in life eventually brought me great gifts. There’s a lot to be said for self awareness, cultivating joy and living in awe of our Great Creator.
I really can’t take credit for this attitude. A long, long time ago in a land far away I was young, single, heartbroken and lost. No direction, no self confidence and no hope for a happy future. Twenty one and divorced. A total loser. And my brother, in a stroke of cruel wisdom said, “Well, at least you aren’t in an iron lung.”
Stunned WTF silence. A brief moment of self pity that I had the biggest asshole of the universe for a brother. And then, total epiphany. So, thank you, Jim. I forgive you for that firecracker incident and for shooting me with a BB gun. I forgive you for making me your personal channel changer in the prehistoric days before TV remotes and for blaming me for the candy wrappers mama found between the couch cushions. It’s taken me a while, but now I get it.
This morning I got up and marveled at my very perfect iron lung-free life: a very basic home in the country, a porch, a good cup of coffee and a huge, yellow tomcat on my lap.
It doesn’t get more perfect that that.
Choose it. Choose happy.